All photography provided by Jack Affleck
Measure 1B is a continuation and augmentation of our Open Space Program, originally passed in 2002. This program will continue to conserve open spaces, farms, ranches, forests and mountains which, as we’ve seen these last 14 years, has conserved lands that work to keep water in rivers like the Colorado, Eagle, and Frying Pan; has protected critical wildlife habitat, wetlands, and scenic vistas; and continues to enhance our world-class recreational amenities, which drives our economy and sustains our quality of life. This extension will include new, dedicated funding for the creation and maintenance of soft trails, and bonding authority to expedite the completion of the Eagle Valley Trail.
On August 30th, by unanimous vote, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners referred an extension and augmentation of our open space program to the ballot. This measure does NOT increase taxes. By voting YES to Open Space, Rivers and Trails – 1B this November 8, we will:
- Enable bonding authority to complete the Eagle Valley Trail;
- Dedicate a portion of the mill levy for debt service to pay bond interest without increasing taxes;
- Dedicate a portion of the mill levy to the creation and maintenance of unpaved trails throughout Eagle County.
- Continue to protect water quality and quantity in rivers like the Eagle, Colorado, and Frying Pan;
- Continue conserving open space that preserves critical wildlife habitat, wetlands, and floodplains;
- Continue conserving scenic landscapes and vistas;
- Continue providing public access points to rivers;
The specific breakdown of funds is: 75% for the protection of water quality and conservation of open space, wildlife habitat, wetlands and floodplains, scenic landscapes and vistas, and to provide access points to our river; 20% for the creation and maintenance, as well as debt service for bonds, of paved trails; and 5% for the creation and maintenance of unpaved trails throughout Eagle County.
Since 2002, the open space program has been subject to a high degree of oversight in order to ensure that funds are spent in the best interest of Eagle County residents. Solid accountability measures will continue to be in place in measure 1B:
- An independent citizens advisory committee, the Open Space Advisory Committee, makes recommendations to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners
- The Open Space Advisory Committee oversees funds generated from the 1.5 mill levy
- Revenue generated from the program can only be spent on protecting water quality; conserving open space, wildlife habitat, wetlands, and scenic vistas; providing public access points to rivers; and constructing, improving, and maintaining paved and unpaved trails throughout the county
- Revenues and expenditures are subject to an annual, independent audit available for public review
- This temporary tax will expire in 15 years
Open lands, rivers, and wetlands are critical pieces of the environment in Eagle County. The use of open space funds to protect and enhance our water quality, protect wildlife habitat, conserve our open and beautiful views, and enhance recreation opportunities are vital to our quality of life, and keep our recreation and tourism economies strong. Since 2002, almost 11,000 acres have been funded by our open space program. The renewal of measure 1B will add to the legacy of this vital work well into the future.
EaGLE VALLEY TRAIL
The regional Eagle Valley Trail system is a paved trail, connecting Vail Pass to Dotsero, and is currently 67% complete. At current funding rates (generated by a small portion of our sales tax), it will take 40 years to complete the ECO Trail. 1B will enable bonding authority, and funds to pay for debt service, to expedite the creation of this paved trail, without increasing taxes. The Eagle Valley Trail adds another lifestyle element and economic driver to Eagle County.
With hundreds of miles of soft trails in Eagle County, on county and federal lands, effective trail stewardship is extraordinarily difficult. Measure 1B will dedicated funds toward the sustainable maintenance of our current trails and may, in time, be used for the creation of new, environmentally responsible trails, all of which enables residents and visitors alike to partake in all the exceptional outdoor experiences that Eagle County has to offer.