Our Annual Snowdown Wine & Spirits Tasting & Silent Auction was a HUGE success!
2018 marked the 24th LPOSC Snowdown Event. We had a packed house, full of wonderful supporters in Mutu’s to sample and celebrate. Guests enjoyed sampling carefully selected varietals of wine by Animas Wine & Spirits, and craft spirits from local and regional distilleries (Durango Craft Spirits, Honeyville Honey House Distillery, Woods Mountain Distillery & Peach Street Distilling), along with local foods from Sunnyside Meats and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
Responding to community requests, LPOSC once again focused its silent auction and raffle on “quality of life” items that connect LPOSC supporters to land conservation. From a llama guided day hike with lunch provided, to an Alpacka Raft, to fly fishing on private conservation easements – the auction and raffle had great energy and were a fun way to support LPOSC in its work.
LPOSC would like to thank our event sponsors for making this year’s event possible:
Gold Level Sponsors: Bank of Colorado, Jerry & Karen Zink, Kennebec Construction, LPEA, Maynes, Bradford, Shipps & Sheftel, and Tafoya Barrett & Associates.
Silver Level Sponsors: Animas Wine & Spirits, Compton Cattle Company, ImageNet Consulting, Intelligent Investment Management, Priority Financial Partners, RMBA Architects, Reynolds, Ash & Associates Architecture & Engineering, Russell Engineering & Planning Inc., Steve & Jeannie Wheeldon, and the Strater Hotel.
Bronze Level Sponsors: Amber Johnson with Durango Land & Homes, Colorado Water & Land Law, Durango Electrical Services, ImageNet Consulting, Jay Short Insurance, Jayne’s Corporation, and Oxford Asset Management.
Supporting Businesses & Donors Include: 2nd Avenue Sports, 4 Corners Riversports, Adam Reeves, Alpacka Raft, Andrew Gulliford, Animas Wine & Liquor, Backcountry Experience, the Bartig-Small Family, Bedrock Packs, the Brown Family, Carver Brewing Co., Durango Party Rental, Fresh Off the Press, the Fossel Family, Gardenswartz, Glacier Club, Jeff Jessing, Jeff McGarvin Photography, John Fielder, Karyn Gabaldon, King Cage, Kroeger’s Ace Hardware, Leland Holiday, Monique Holiday, Mutu’s Italian Kitchen, Native Roots, the Nordic Center, Osprey Packs Inc., Parelli Natural Horsemanship, Osprey Packs, Pathfinder Chiropractic, Pine Needle Mountaineering, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, SKA Brewing, Sunnyside Meats, Tafoya Barrett & Associates staff, Toh-Atin Gallery, Williams & Hall Outfitters.
La Plata Open Space celebrates 25 years of land conservancy, 30,000 preserved acres in seven counties
La Plata Open Space Conservancy turns 25 in March.
Because of it, more than 30,000 acres of land in seven counties are to remain untouched by development.
The land trust manages about 20,100 acres within 176 conservation easements, and has helped protect an additional 900 acres for other organizations. In December, two additional properties totaling more than 470 acres were placed in conservation easements in La Plata County.
These lands typically are open to hunting, agriculture and fishing. They preserve family legacies, and some, such as Overend Mountain Park and Horse Gulch, are popular places for public recreation. They exist in La Plata, Archuleta, Montezuma, Hinsdale and Ouray counties as well as San Juan counties in Colorado and New Mexico.
“Land trusts bridge the gap between government and the private landowner,” said Executive Director Amy Schwarzbach. “We have kitchen table conversations with a lot of these people.”
Protecting open lands on the local level began in the mid-1980s with a county governmental committee, formed at a time when a parks program and related policy didn’t exist in Durango. Kathy Roser was asked to lead the program in 1987.
The group was unlike other county committees in that it was semi-autonomous. Committee members would negotiate deals with landowners, then approach county commissioners for approval.
“There was not a lot of public support, mainly because people felt it was a government organization,” Roser said. “And there wasn’t a lot of support from the government. They didn’t stand behind it.”
Hesperus ranch placed on historic register
Helen Ruth Aspaas lives in a white house a mile south of the Old Fort campus in Hesperus.
The old coal-burning stoves are gone, and additions have been built, but the structure’s original design and layout – military officers’ quarters in the 1800s – are largely untouched. In summer, oriental poppies bob near the south windows and lilacs blossom to the north, both planted more than a century ago by Aspaas’ great-grandmother.
The 149-acre ranch was homesteaded 130 years ago by some of the first European settlers – Aspaas’ great-grandparents – to try their luck in the San Juan Basin.
On Tuesday, La Plata County commissioners unanimously voted to add the property to the La Plata County Historic Register, joining more than 10 ranches, old roads, government buildings and schoolhouses on the list. Between a conservation easement and the new historic designation, the ranch’s historic, cultural and natural integrity are among the most well-protected in La Plata County.
Standing close to the north-facing porch where her great-grandmother’s photo was taken a century ago, Aspaas, 65, explained her decision to preserve the place: “I grew up here.”
A working-class family
Fortune lured Hans Aspaas to the mineral-rich San Juans from Norway with his wife, Annette, and infant son (who later founded the town of Ignacio) in the early 1870s. Over the next 10 years, the family left its tracks all over San Juan and La Plata counties.
They weathered their first Colorado winter in Silverton in 1874 where Hans worked as a postman, but the cold drove them south the following year to farm the Animas Valley. The family subsequently moved to Parrott City where Hans tried placer mining along the La Plata River, then Hermosa, Animas City and finally to western La Plata County in the 1880s.
“That was typical,” local historian Duane Smith said of the family’s frequent migration. “As families tried to find their angle of repose, where they could make a living, that’s what a lot of them did. Mining: There was glamor and excitement over the idea of quick wealth, but then settlers found mining was hard. There was not a lot of wealth in it, and there were better occupations. The Aspaas’ were a pioneering family to prove that.”
At the Hesperus ranch, Hans worked as a clerk and mail dispatcher in Fort Lewis.
When Hans died, leaving Annette with four children, she worked as a laundress at the Southern Ute boarding school at the Old Fort. The officers’ boarding house was reportedly moved from the campus to Annette’s ranch sometime in the 1890s, and she filed for property rights in 1913.
Annette’s second son, Ralph, was Helen Ruth’s grandfather.