Marble Wetlands Preserve
Eighteen months ago, CVEPA entered into a partnership with the Aspen Valley Land Trust with the goal of putting 55 acres of valuable wetlands near Marble into conservation. CVEPA sought assurances from the State of Colorado to protect any non-profit that would accept the property from environmental liability due to a smelter site remaining from a mining project that was decommissioned, circa 1913.
With only two business hours left in 2021 the deed for donation of the 55 acres was recorded protecting the land from development. The property is adjacent to the popular Beaver Lake and includes almost a kilometer of riverfront. It is also borders the Town of Marble and creates a scenic and habitat buffer at the town’s edge.
A benevolent property owner, who had previously donated Marble’s “Thompson Park” to the Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT), had hopes of donating the wetlands at that same time and needed to complete this transaction by year’s end or the property could have gone on the open market.
CVEPA began with a call to Pat Willits of the Trust for Land Restoration (TLR) restorationtrust.org in Ridgway, CO. CVEPA vice-president, Dale Will knew of Willits’ work with abandoned mine sites in Western Colorado, notably on Red Mountain Pass. Through several informative and supportive phone calls with Pat, CVEPA gained an understanding of the process and the name of Mark Rudolph at Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The chain of contacts grew over a year and half, as did the valuable relationship building. With the help of Rudolph, CVEPA applied for and received a grant for Phase I Targeted Brownfield Assessment (TBA) from CDPHE and was also able to complete the slag material analysis from a certified laboratory pro bono. In August of 2021 CDPHE issued the favorable Phase I report with their recommendations for mitigation of the site. The TLR deemed “that the (CDPHE) report more than adequately meets the standard of "All Appropriate Inquiry" of the 2002 Brownfield Act to provide TLR legal liability protection as a "Bonafide Prospective Purchaser".
In a remarkable acquisition that traveled full circle, it was the nimble and fast acting Trust for Land Restoration that accepted this property for the benefit of future generations. The TLR Board consummated in three days’ time what so many had worked to achieve for many years. The donor’s generosity, patience, and persistence to conserve this property for posterity became a reality on December 30th.
TLR’s mission of working on remediation and restoration of abandoned mine sites made them uniquely suited for this kind of land acquisition. TLR will work to fulfill the site mitigation recommended by CDPHE and, within the next year, will find the most suitable entity to assume permanent ownership of the property. The conservation values of watershed and wildlife protection and non-motorized public access are paramount to the new partners. Colorado Parks and Wildlife border the Hepola Wetlands on two sides, and they are a likely candidate. The Aspen Valley Land Trust remains interested in the land as are several other groups. Outreach and collaboration with numerous organizations will assure that stewardship of the property protects this gift for residents and visitors forever.
And thus, on the eve of the new year, the patience and persistence to conserve this property for posterity became a reality.
For More Information Contact
John Armstrong, President, CVEPA
Pat Willits, Executive Director, The Trust for Land Restoration
(970) 626 3236, (970) 596 5479
As Marble’s popularity surges, 55 acres of open space preserved on southern edge - Aspen Times article by Scott Condon
Wetlands Preserve - Read more on the TLR Website
Environmental analysis puts Marble wetlands donation within reach -Aspen Journalism article by Curtis Wackerle
Marble Wetlands Preserve created through land donation - Sopris Sun article by Olivia Emmer
CVEPA Joins Wetland Acquisition - Crystal Clear article by John Armstrong, CVEPA President, Fall 2020
Wetlands Conservation Easement Progresses - Crystal Clear article by John Armstrong, CVEPA President, Winter 2020, pg 3