The origins of CVEPA began back in 1970 when a handful of Marble residents and others in the Crystal River valley, decided to form a group to oppose the development of a proposed major ski area in Marble, which also included a massive surrounding residential development. J.E. Devilbiss, a Carbondale lawyer who later became District Judge, drafted the charter for a non-profit to oppose it and named the new group the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association (CVEPA). Devilbiss also did the legal work to re-incorporate the town of Marble believing that an incorporated town would have a stronger voice to oppose the ski area. And stronger voices were surely needed. The Gunnison County Commissioner for the Marble area was handing out approvals to the ski area like they were popcorn, including residential lots all the way from the Darien property on the west to Beaver Lake on the east, a distance of about 3 1/2 miles. The property on which the ski area was planned was also included, extending nearly a mile up the hill north of town. As you can see on the map above, the ski area proposal would have surrounded and dwarfed the boundaries of the current town of Marble.
During the years 1971 through 1973, CVEPA opposed the ski area at meetings of the Gunnison County Commissioners and the Colorado Real Estate Commission in Denver. Gunnison meetings were raucous, with ski area supporters ridiculing and booing non-supporters. It was during one of these commissioner meetings that the ski area principal, John Zacovitch said “we’re going to develop this valley the way God would have if he had our money”. At this point, impressive numbers of valley citizens signed up with CVEPA to oppose the ski area.
Despite the opposition to the ski area development by CVEPA and others, Gunnison County continued to approve and support it. Then in 1973, it was the Colorado Real Estate Commission that finally paid attention, and in the face of title problems in the lot sales, this agency entered an order preventing the ski area from selling lots. Bankruptcy followed and the Crystal River Valley was left with only God’s level of development. But scores of hopeful investors lost their property through foreclosure and inherited substantial loan balances through local banks.
A ragtag citizens group was started in 1972 with an ambitious goal of preventing development of the Marble Ski Area and a related real estate scheme. The little group that helped defeat the Marble Ski Area celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association continues to help protect the special place!