Vail Resorts and the City of Vail have exchanged several letters in recent months regarding Vail Resorts’ efforts to build employee housing in East Vail.
On Thursday, Vail Resorts responded to a June 7 letter from the city of Vail, saying the company did not want to relinquish its rights to the property.
“We will not voluntarily abandon our private lands,” wrote Bill Rock.
Rock’s response was provided in response to the City of Vail posing “a fundamental question” to the company in the city’s June 7 letter: “Does Vail Resorts want to enter into an agreement with the City of Vail that results in the transfer of the Booth Heights Parcel to the town of Vail in exchange for the town’s delivery of one or more of the alternative housing actions proposed in the May 13 letter?
The Vail City Council, in a 4-3 decision, voted to pursue condemnation of the property in an effort to save a herd of bighorn sheep that uses the area for its wintering range.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has recommended finding an alternate site for development in an effort to save the Gore/Eagle’s Nest sheep herd, a herd native to the Gore Creek Valley that needs “a very specific set of biological conditions to exist and persist on the landscape,” according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The City of Vail presented several alternative sites for housing projects, which Rock said Vail Resorts would like to pursue.
Rock’s letter said East Vail aside, the city and Vail Resorts should work together on all of the opportunities detailed in the city’s list of alternatives, beginning as early as next week.
“Since these potential developments may take years to materialize, we would like to begin this work as soon as possible,” Rock said.
As for East Vail, however, Vail Resorts has a number of legal issues, Rock said.
“We will raise these concerns in the appropriate forum, and ultimately the decision of whether affordable housing will be built on our private land in East Vail will be decided by the courts,” Rock said.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the East Vail terrain is used by sheep for its access to steep escape terrain, clear sightlines, cliffs and specific south-facing slopes that provide relief. fodder in winter.
Without access to land with these characteristics, the sheep “simply won’t exist,” according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The Gore/Eagle’s Nest flock of sheep is already extremely limited in the amount of winter range available to it.”
Rock, in Vail Resorts response on Thursday, said all projects have impacts that require planning and mitigation.
Devin Duval of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in a statement to the Vail City Council in May, said Eagle County doesn’t have a very good record on mitigation.
“Looking at local elk herd populations as a case study for mitigation effectiveness, efforts to minimize or negate impacts don’t stand the test of time,” Duval said. “Mitigation measures, over time, are forgotten, not enforced, or entities slowly move away from agreed or desired conditions.”
Duval also said not all wildlife impacts are created equal.
“High-density, high-intensity human use will cause a different level of disturbance than lower-intensity distributed human impacts,” he said.
Rock, in Vail Resorts’ response on Thursday, said that while the company appreciates the concern over bighorn sheep habitat, “we cannot support this city council’s position to only prevent housing affordable in bighorn sheep habitat, while allowing for the construction of new luxury homes, commercial development, and a multitude of other uses in that same bighorn sheep habitat.
This story comes from VailDaily.com.