Trust and vision only can be shared between two parties where there is underlying mutual respect. The city of Steamboat Springs’ perception of “trust and vision” does not entitle the city to bully a landowner into unconditional public access across private property, or to ignore wildlife closure dates in order to provide year-round recreational access. In our case, the city even extended its intent to trespass by stating that it had the right to build a cabin on Humble Ranch lands without the owner’s consent. Is building a cabin on somebody else’s property called “trust and vision”? I hope not. That is why we were forced to file suit. Fortunately, the District Court and the Court of Appeals ruled in our favor, finding that the city did not have the right to build a cabin on our property without our consent.
In our deal, Great Outdoors Colorado purchased the development rights on 1,200 acres of land. In other words, the right to build 45 homes on the south flank of Emerald Mountain was extinguished even though the lands still belong to the Humble Ranch. GOCO did not allocate any funds to purchase a cabin site or public trails. In addition, the city of Steamboat did not pay anything to the owners of Humble Ranch.
Not all GOCO-funded projects are public properties. Even today, GOCO continues to use some of its funding to purchase development rights from landowners to protect wildlife habitat and scenic vistas. In many of these cases, the lands remain private. The acquisition of the Yampa Valley Land and Cattle Ranch was an incredibly complex project that involved private and public participation to successfully preserve wildlife habitat, hay pastures and public access to more than 2 miles of the Yampa River.
Like many of you, we embrace the scenic vistas and wildlife habitat of the Yampa Valley. During the past 10 years, we have extended our love and good fortune by sharing our ranch with those adults and children with special needs through the Humble Ranch Education & Therapy Center. Even today, we continue to vigorously protect wildlife habitat and the conservation values of our lands. And lastly, we would like to thank all community members who have supported us throughout the years.
Ed and Cheri Trousil