CWMB Starburst Award

Chapin Wright Marble Basecamp receives Colorado Lottery Starburst Award

August 2016

The Chapin Wright Marble Basecamp was selected by the Colorado Lottery as one of 22 projects around the state (and one of only two nonprofits) to receive a 2016 Starburst Award. The Starburst Awards recognize excellence in the use of Lottery funds for community and conservation projects, and winners are chosen based on the creativity of the project, the economic and social impact on the community, and whether the project achieved its goal.

Aspen Valley Land Trust received a grant in the amount of $273,000 from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), funded by the Colorado Lottery, earlier this year to complete the purchase of the Chapin Wright Marble Basecamp to provide outdoor educational access to area schools.

Until AVLT purchased this scenic 47-acre parcel east of Marble, Basecamp has been privately owned and shared with the Aspen School District since the inauguration of their acclaimed 8th grade outdoor ed program in 1969.  That program was founded by Bleu Stroud (then landowner), Jerry Defries, Wava Turner, John Kuehlman, and the Colorado Outward Bound School (who trained all the early teachers and helped conceptualize the program) – and developed and carried out by many teachers, volunteers and other luminaries ever since.

The property has been renamed the Chapin Wright Marble Basecamp in recognition of lead donor, the Chapin Wright Flatirons Foundation, named in honor of a former Aspen High School graduate that passed away on graduation night in 1972. Chapin was deeply touched by his Outward Bound experiences in high school and found great solace in nature, having himself missed a trip Basecamp by only a year.

Other donors to the project include the Gunnison Valley Land Preservation Fund and numerous supporters from the Roaring Fork Valley community, which helped AVLT raise $450,000 for the purchase and expenses, and over $150,000 for a dedicated land management fund to help care for the property in perpetuity.

The property also protects public trail access to the popular North Lost Trail as well as land along North Lost Trail Creek.  The property will remain undeveloped and protect important winter and other wildlife habitat as governed by a conservation easement granted by AVLT to the Crested Butte Land Trust.

“Willard’s Way” will be dedicated on the property to honor late Aspen Middle School teacher Willard Clapper, whose widow Anne Austin Clapper made a $10,000 challenge grant in his memory during the fundraising effort.  Numerous donations poured in honoring Willard alongside many other teachers, students and community volunteers who have been a part of the history of the acclaimed outdoor education program.  Fittingly, the Aspen School District will be the first to use the property this year under its new ownership.

AVLT has been conserving lands in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys for almost 50 years. In that time it has protected nearly 40,000 acres, including more than 60 miles of river and stream corridors, for open space, agriculture and public access. The Chapin Wright Marble Basecamp is the organization’s first acquisition specifically for educational use and “will help young people find that sense of place and connection that will inspire them to become community leaders and the next stewards of our land,” according to Suzanne Stephens, executive director of AVLT.

AVLT and the local schools are grateful to all who donated money, time, vision and effort to the cause, and to the visionary founders of the program, and to the previous landowners who’ve supported the project Bleu Stroud, the George Family, and Harry and Karin Teague.

Contributions are still being accepted for AVLT’s Basecamp Forever Fund, dedicated to the long-term care and maintenance of Chapin Wright Marble Basecamp.  A land management plan is being developed to help guide resource protection on the property while making it useful to area schools.

The Sunburst Award will be presented to AVLT this fall, and AVLT will also host a celebration and dedication to thank all of the Basecamp donors in Aspen.  A donor plaque will be erected on the property honoring the contributions from the community.

To listen to the Aspen Public Radio piece, click here.

For more about the award and the rest of the 21 recipients, click here.

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