65 Acres Atop Hogback in Montrose to Be Preserved
by William Woody
Aug 31, 2012 | 3194 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PRESERVING THE HOGBACK – Montrose resident James Branscome looked out from Sunset Mesa last Monday where he recently purchased a large chunk of land he intends to preserve for recreational purposes. (Photo by William Woody)
PRESERVING THE HOGBACK – Montrose resident James Branscome looked out from Sunset Mesa last Monday where he recently purchased a large chunk of land he intends to preserve for recreational purposes. (Photo by William Woody)
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A FUTURE OF RECREATION FOR ALL – A pair of bike riders navigated through the area recently purchased by resident James Branscome last week. (Photo by William Woody)
A FUTURE OF RECREATION FOR ALL – A pair of bike riders navigated through the area recently purchased by resident James Branscome last week. (Photo by William Woody)
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MONTROSE – Montrose resident Jim Branscome stood on a bluff a hundred yards east of Grand View Cemetery Monday, overlooking the bustle of South Townsend Ave., and claimed the best view in the county for now and forever.

From the Grand Mesa north to the San Juans, a 180-degree panoramic view frames the City of Montrose with clouds from an approaching thunderstorm. This view is now protected, spared from the bulldozers of development, to become the city's newest green space.

The bluff, with its native grasses and cacti, is part of 65 acres Branscome and his wife Sharen recently purchased, with the intention of preservation. The acreage begins on the southern east side of Sunset Mesa, or “Hogback,” to locals, and wraps around the mesa below the cemetery to the west side. In addition, the property runs from the cemetery's eastern edge to the Uncompahgre River bike path below.

The area, once targeted for home development, was valued at $3.6 million. Branscome, a member of the board of directors of the Montrose Community Foundation, said the property was bought for nearly 12 percent of its value, with the vision of one day developing a large recreational park there.

"I think I'm now the largest owner of prairie dogs in town," Branscome said jokingly as he described a variety of wildlife in the area as "pets." Each day, walkers and bikers can be seen enjoying the area – a great sign, he says, of how it will be used in the future, given its relatively central location within the city.

The Branscomes live just south of the property located off the north end of Chipeta Point subdivision. Jim Branscome said that initial plans include ripping out invasive plant species to restore native grasses, which is a key to preventing erosion, he explained.There are plans to work with the city's parks department, he added, to develop paved a bike path connecting the sports fields atop the mesa.

Plans for that path, marked by wooden stakes with orange ribbons, include having it connect the River Landing shopping center to the top of Sunset Mesa, with a new pedestrian bridge over the Uncompaghre River, according to City of Montrose Parks Planner and Project Manager Dennis Erickson.

Of the 65 acres, just five will contain city infrastructure, including walking trails and bike paths.

The Branscome property now connects to 35 acres of slender, mile-long riverfront property donated to the city to just the county-owned bike path running through it. Last year, the Branscomes donated $100,000 to help the city acquire that property, with an additional $300,000 coming from the Delta-Montrose Electrical Association. The city council approved the purchase, and provided closing costs, but titles for the property have not been finalized, according to Erickson. He said the 35 acres on the river are part of the Uncompahgre River Master Plan, and one in a series of steps planned for the improvement, protection and creation of recreational infrastructure along the river. Erickson said invasive plant species will be removed and improved fishing habitat will be created.

"It's going to be a nice addition, a great place for Montrose and fisherman alike," Erickson said.

Erickson and Branscome agree that foresight in protecting Montrose's open areas will help to preserve the city's open recreational areas, as the city continues to grow. Branscome said he encourages others to see the potential in preserving properties along the river for future generations.

"It's a wonderful place to have a dream," Branscome said.



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johnwontrobski
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September 01, 2012
The Hogback is one of my favorite places in Montrose- thank you Branscome family.