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Aspen Valley Land Trust launches fundraising campaign to buy "Marble Basecamp"

A local conservation group has launched a fundraising campaign to preserve a piece of land used by the Aspen School District. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports, the Marble Basecamp is at risk of being sold.

The 57 acre tract of land becomes an outdoor classroom every fall as part of the Aspen School District’s outdoor ed program. Brian Hightower is a former teacher.

If AVLT is able to raise enough money to buy the land, it will place a conservation easement on it.

"The entire 8th grade for, going on 50 years, has hiked through the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness for a four-day backpacking trip, and they end up at this place called Base Camp in Marble," he says.

The land went on the market last year. But, Hightower partnered with the Aspen Valley Land Trust and the landowners agreed to take it off the market temporarily. The price of the parcel is $400,000. AVLT has until the end of this year to secure grants and raise $200,000 in private donations. Martha Cochran is executive director.

"If we’re able to do that, AVLT would own the property. We haven’t figured out the details, but we would lease it to the schools for $1 a year, or some such arrangement," she says.

The parcel is an inholding in the national forest, adjacent to the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness. If the money’s raised, AVLT would place a conservation easement on it that would include a requirement that allows public education use. AVLT would like to open it up to other schools in the Roaring Fork Valley. About 4000 students from the Aspen School District have used the Marble Base Camp.