Last of Windstar money awarded in John Denver’s honor

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
The John Denver "Spirit" statue was removed from the Windstar property in Old Snowmass in 2013 and was installed at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame at Red Rocks.
Aspen Times file |



Aspen Community School $153,000

Cradle to Career Initiative

Preschool on Wheels program $450,000

Aspen TREE $66,620

Rocky Mountain Institute

Reinventing Fire China project $1M

EcoFlight $75,000

Wilderness Workshop $15,000

United Way of Oklahoma $100,000

Colorado Music Hall of Fame $10,600

WindWalkers $27,000

LIFT-UP $50,000

Friends of Aspen Animal Shelter $10,000

Total $1,957,220


Aspen Center for Environmental Studies $18,000

Aspen Community School $99,999

Aspen Global Change Institute $180,000

Aspen Homeless Shelter $18,000

Aspen Public Radio $150,000

Aspen TREE $27,198

Challenge Aspen $93,900

Colorado Music Hall of Fame $10,000

Cradle to Career Initiative $99,999

Ecoflight $72,000

Feed My Sheep Ministry $45,000

First Light Foundation $220,000

LIFT-UP $36,000

Murie Center $50,000

Roaring Fork Conservancy

John Denver Sanctuary $70,000

Snowmass-Capitol Creek Caucus $18,000

The Buddy Program $25,000

Valley Settlement Project $115,000

Wilderness Workshop $25,000

Windwalkers Equine

Assisted Learning and Therapy $36,000

Yampah Mountain School $14,994

Total $1,424,090


Aspen TREE $36,000

Aspen Writers Foundation $45,000

Children and Nature Network $45,000

Huts for Vets $54,000

Lucky Day Animal Rescue $45,000

Rock The Earth $81,000

River Center of New Castle $4,500

Total $311,000

An organization dedicated to promoting John Denver’s vision says it has awarded the last of the money raised from the sale of Denver’s Windstar property in Old Snowmass.

The John Denver Aspenglow Fund has given nearly $3.7 million to nonprofit organizations, mostly from the Roaring Fork Valley, over the last three years, according to Karmen Dopslaff, who helped create and supervise the fund. The money went to social and environmental causes that she believes Denver would have wholeheartedly endorsed.

“He really believed that we could save the planet,” said Dopslaff, who met Denver in a chance encounter in Aspen in the early 1980s and befriended him. She was a supporter of the Windstar Foundation, which Denver founded to promote issues such as world peace and environmental sustainability.

The Aspenglow Fund was created after the sale of the Windstar property for $8.5 million in April 2013. The Windstar Land Conservancy and Rocky Mountain Institute split the proceeds. The sale was controversial among some devotees of Denver because they wanted the Windstar Foundation to reform and continue to pursue Denver’s vision.

Dopslaff said the conservancy’s board of directors made the tough decision to sell the land because Windstar was rife with problems after Denver’s death in October 1997, when the small aircraft he piloted crashed in California.

“It wasn’t the Windstar that John had created,” Dopslaff said.

The majority of the land, 927 acres, is held in a conservation easement, which guarantees public access and prohibits development. A small pocket of 30 acres, where RMI’s office was located until last year, can be developed.

In addition, the money that the Windstar Land Conservancy reaped from the sale has been dedicated to social, environmental and educational causes, Dopslaff said.

Dopslaff said she believes Denver would have approved of using the money to promote his causes rather than keeping Windstar alive in his name. “He wouldn’t want to be the icon, maybe the inspiration,” she said.

Annie Denver, John’s former wife, was another of the three supervisors of the fund. Dopslaff said they were amazed by the projects they were able to support and regretted that about 10 applications had to be turned down.

Among the grant recipients she spotlighted was Children & Nature, which works to get children worldwide connected with nature in their everyday lives. The organization says children spend 90 percent of their time indoors and have lost their connection to nature. Children & Nature received a $45,000 grant this year.

Dopslaff also singled out the Cradle to Career Initiative’s Enrichment Wednesdays program, which offered special enrichment activities to 1,500 kindergarten through eighth grade students in the Roaring Fork School District. The program received $171,000 via two grants in 2014 and 2015.

RMI received $1 million for its Reinventing Fire China project to promote efficient and restorative use of resources.

Aspenglow also provided money to move the “Spirit” statue of John Denver from the Windstar property to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison.

The John Denver Aspenglow Fund was held and administered by the Aspen Community Foundation. Money that hasn’t been awarded was reserved for work on a documentary on John Denver, according to Dopslaff.

The fund will be dissolved, Dopslaff said, but John Denver’s legacy will continue through the programs.

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