Jane Hickcox

Jane Hickcox, a member of the Valley Floor Preservation Partners celebrates the Valley Floor victory at Elks Park in this photograph from May 9, 2007. (Photo by Nick Wolcott/Special to the Planet)

 

The Valley Floor — a 570-acre gateway to the town of Telluride — was cemented as an open space in perpetuity in 2008 after contentious battles between the town of Telluride and the former Valley Floor landowner, the San Miguel Valley Corporation. 

The fight entailed several years of legal battles ending in a Colorado Supreme Court case, as well as a fundraising effort in 2007 to raise $50 million to lock-up the purchase of the Valley Floor through condemnation. 

The final fundraising effort was no easy feat, and when the money was raised in time (the court had given a deadline), it was considered the victory of the Valley Floor; the last hurdle the town overcame in preserving the land. Thus, May 9, 2007 — the day the Valley Floor Preservation Partners (VFPP), a nonprofit that was formed to coordinate the fundraising campaign, deposited a $50 million check to the court — was officially declared “Valley Floor Day.”

This year, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the fundraising feat and subsequent victory, VFPP is hosting a series of events throughout town and on the Valley Floor from June 1-3. 

Jane Hickcox, VFPP board member, said the celebration is a way to raise awareness about the Valley Floor and its history.

“The thing we are realizing now is that a lot of new people don’t know the story,” she said. “They know it is there but they just figure that’s a nice piece of open land.”

She added: “It seemed appropriate that for this 10-year milestone we revisit the story.” 

Hickcox said she remembers the fight of the Valley Floor well and that the struggle was like “something out of a storybook.” The part she holds the most dear “is the sacrifice that working people made” during the fundraising push, with stories of people mortgaging their houses and selling personal belongings to contribute. As a result, over 1,700 donations were made throughout the campaign to save the Valley Floor, she said. 

REMEMBERING THE FIGHT

Many local organizations will be contributing toward keeping the memory alive during the three-day event. 

On June 1, the Telluride Historical Museum will have a summer exhibit about the history of the Valley Floor with an installation that will take visitors through the geological beginnings of the land, to the fundraising campaign to save it, and finally its preservation, according to a news release. 

Also on June 1, a Valley Floor-themed art walk will conclude with a presentation of student work completed during a six-week class at the Ah Haa School for the Arts titled, “Love Your Valley: An Exploration of Place through Art, Poetry and Performance.”

Then, On June 2, as an ode to the first celebration of the Valley Floor victory 10 years ago, VFPP will “recreate the excitement with a party in Elks Park, featuring music, food, drinks, kids’ activities and guest speakers.” 

To top out the weekend, on June 3, the Sheridan Opera House will host films, speakers and poets who will present work related to the anniversary.  

San Miguel County Commissioner Hilary Cooper, who also is the VFPP program director, said the three-day event is a good way to remind the community of what can be done when everyone comes together. 

“We came together to preserve our culture, our landscape and our history and it is a remarkable precedent,” she said. “It is important to tell that story for those who weren’t around then.

“It is a reminder of what we can do as a community when we put our heads together.”

And she hopes people will come together again, this time to honor the land, which is said to be “forever protected” by a conservation easement.

Cooper said she and the event organizers are hoping more people will contribute to the celebration — whether through art, history or whatever other meaningful idea community members can come up with. 

For more information about the celebration or to contact VFPP with an idea, email Cooper at info@valleyfloor.org