On Tuesday, July 1, at 11:00 AM, Utah’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), and Utah Open Lands held a press conference to announce the successful preservation of 221 acres of Castleton Tower baselands from development.
After two years of hard work, Utah Open Lands’ campaign which drew national attention, succeeded in protecting the traditional campground and access to Castleton Tower from a potential subdivision.
Last week, Utah Open Lands raised the final dollar of the $640,000 price tag necessary to protect one of Utah’s most cherished areas from private development: Castleton Tower. The lands purchased by Utah Open Lands for permanent protection were formerly owned by SITLA. A contract negotiated by the organizations in January 2001 provided Utah Open Lands an 18 month window to raise the money and purchase the land from the state agency.
“The money goes to the beneficiaries of these Trust Lands, the school children of Utah,” said Kevin Carter, Director of SITLA. The agency, whose mission is to provide the greatest return on the lands under its ownership for the benefit of Utah’s school children, saw this deal as a win – win. ” We hope the precedent this effort has set creates more opportunities to protect Trust Lands for future generations while still fulfilling our mandate to provide critical funding for Utah’s school children.”
For Utah Open Lands, the preservation of the Castleton Tower baselands is vital to the organization’s efforts to continue working with the local community and the Castle Rock Collaboration to preserve additional lands within the Colorado River watershed. ” Everyone who visits Castle Valley is awestruck by the incredible beauty of the area. Now, future generations can enjoy this fantastic landscape as it exists today.” said David Erley, Field Director for Utah Open Lands.
An integral part of the success of this campaign was a lead grant from the George S. and Dolores Dore` Eccles Foundation who provided the initial down payment for the land. Additional funding was raised through Utah Open Lands ” Acre-buy-Acre” Campaign, through the community of Castle Valley as well as through support from the Conservation Alliance- a consortium of outdoor retail companies. ” We are grateful to the George S. and Dolores Dore` Eccles Foundation and the outdoor industry for their leadership and support of this historic campaign.” said Wendy Fisher, Executive Director of Utah Open Lands.
The campaign generated national attention due to the popularity of Castle Valley among rock climbers and tourists. Castleton Tower is noted as one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America because it is an unmatched sandstone spire with challenging routes.Climbers travel from all over the world to test their abilities amidst the dramatic setting of Castle Valley. The campaign received notoriety in more than 5 popular sports magazines and journals including Climbing, Rock and Ice, The Alpinist, Trail Runner and National Geographic. A National Geographic Adventure special about the threat to the area aired on May 29th