The lands are historically and scenically important, said Risch, adding that permanent protection of these parcels, among the “most spectacular locations” in the San Juan Mountains, has been a major objective of the Task Force.
“All of us, including coming generations who will treasure these scenic places, are indebted to family members who had the vision and commitment to make this conveyance to the public domain a reality,” Risch said. “I know that I am speaking for a great many people when I say ‘than you’ to the Zanetts for this public-spirited act.”
The purchase was made from the last remaining funds of a $14 million Land and Water Conservation Fund appropriation the Red Mountain Task Force received from the U.S. Congress a few years ago.
According to Risch, $200,000-300,000 in funds remains for other acquisitions. There is a three-year time limit on acquisitions with those monies, and whatever cash remains must be returned to the grant authorities. At present, with a deadline looming, the Task Force is working to acquire some land “over by Ophir” and some of the highest areas situated in Yankee Boy Basin – for about $231,000 – possibly as early as the end of March.
Over 9,000 acres have been acquired by the project to date, which have resulted in the stabilization of several historic mining and ghost town resources located throughout the Red Mountain Mining District.
The Task Force works in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Trust for Public Land and Colorado’s congressional delegation on the Red Mountain Project, a grassroots effort to acquire patented mining claims surrounding the former mining towns of Ouray, Silverton and Telluride.