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Colorado River Corridor Campaign

by Bergen Tjossem

COLORADO RIVER CORRIDOR CAMPAIGN

Have you driven the Colorado River Road recently?  Development threatens this extraordinary, intact, natural landscape just north of the Vail Valley. We hope that as you learn more you will be moved to make an additional donation to EVLT this year, beyond your traditional annual gift, to EVLT’s Colorado River Fund.

Your support will continue to help us conserve land along this vulnerable and extremely vital landscape.

This area, more than any other in our county, exemplifies the rustic and historic beauty that brought people to this community in the first place. Still relatively free from development, the Colorado River corridor deserves EVLT’s focused attention to keep it that way. We invite you to help us save this beautiful place.

Spurred by a growing economy, the urbanization we’re experiencing along the I-70 corridor, and increased recreational uses of the river, development pressure is increasingly threatening this critical community asset. EVLT needs your help to preserve this land before it is too late. Unprotected, another concrete highway like I-70 and another urbanized river corridor will be the result – it is just a matter of time. You can be part of the solution and help us protect this incredible landscape for future generations.

Because Eagle County real estate is so valuable, we have already seen tens of thousands of acres of working ranches in Eagle County traded to land speculators, many of whom have no particular affinity for the rural character of our community. They offer high prices to ranchers, and then seek the highest returns for their investments – which usually means subdivision and development.

Please don’t let our legacy be that of lost agricultural land, repurposed water rights, destroyed habitat and diminished natural scenic beauty.

Your contribution will have impact far beyond the landscape itself, as the conservation of the Colorado River is of national and international concern. According to American Rivers, the waters of the Colorado River “sustain more than 36 million people, a great majority of our nation’s food supply, and endangered fish and wildlife across seven states and two countries.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture has named the Colorado River Basin as one of its eight Critical Conservation Areas for water quality and quantity improvements including land conservation projects and is directing $1.2 billion to “address these internationally significant conservation issues.”

EVLT is the central player on the ground to coordinate conservation projects that will be responsive to these issues. But we can’t do it alone. Your support, through both financial gifts as well as your awareness of these critical conservation issues and of EVLT’s conservation work along the Colorado River will have an impact on these much larger forces that affect all Americans.

There are some common misconceptions about the benefits and pitfalls of conservation easements. Some landowners think conservation easements are a government conspiracy to take over their land, or simply make the rich wealthier. To the contrary, congress and our state legislature have both put into place robust incentives to help ranchers continue their business while preserving agricultural heritage across the nation. EVLT needs funding for staff time and materials to connect with landowners along the river corridor. This will allow EVLT to share recent policy changes and benefits of placing their land into a conservation easement.

With your help, EVLT will greatly increase conservation along the Colorado River in the coming years. Work has started steadily and deliberately on this goal. Most recently, EVLT held a ranch tour attended by 73 members of the public. Visiting several ranches and driving the entire length of Colorado River Road, EVLT built goodwill with several ranching families and the general public. You can help us build on this initial success!

You would be surprised what goes into this work. Relationship building, outreach, and education require extensive planning, repeat face-to-face meetings, community meetings, and other frequent and repeated communications. All these activities require staff time, office expenses, and transportation. We expect annual costs of this program to be $25,000.

We appreciate your support. Even a small donation will have a significant impact. Ultimately, EVLT anticipates repeat and meaningful engagement with at least 20 landowners, and you can contribute to our goal of attracting voluntarily granted conservation easements for at least five working ranches along the Colorado River in five years.

You can help keep this scenic landscape beautiful and help ranchers and other local food and fiber producers continue to ranch.  Most importantly, you can be a crucial part of our team as we build a solid foundation upon which to effectively conserve the Colorado River corridor.

Please help us fund this effort by donating now. These funds will be deposited to our general operating account, but will be recognized specifically as contributions to the Colorado River Corridor Campaign.

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