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Heritage, Legacy, and Local Food

by Bergen Tjossem

A scrumptious Farm to Fork dinner on August 25 will cap off our summer events, which included our 2nd annual Ranching Heritage Tour and 3rd annual Legacy Festival – more below!

Long before skiers enjoyed a Gore Range sunrise from the top of Vail Mountain, ranchers throughout Eagle County enjoyed the early-morning alpenglow from their fields and atop their horses and tractors. In a community where skiing often takes the spotlight, the 2nd annual Eagle Valley Land Trust (EVLT) Ranching Heritage Tour connected guests with two ranching families who have worked on and cared for their land for many generations.

On a beautiful mid-July day, the Bair and Luark families hosted EVLT and 74 guests on their ranches. If you joined us on the tour, you heard tales of success and of overcoming adversity, and stories of change. Guests learned of the many creative ways ranchers adapted over the years in order to continue the work they love and deepen the ranching heritage of their families. The ranchers and their families shared how they hope subsequent generations will care for the land as well as they have.

Luarks Family Talking to Group
The Luark family speaks to Ranching Heritage Tour guests.

EVLT in collaboration with the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts is working to conserve ranching heritage, a national – and local – treasure. “There is tremendous economic value in keeping private lands productive – one way to do so is through conservation easements,” explains Amanda Barker, Executive Director of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts.

Many farms and ranches on Colorado’s western slope – like Bair Ranch – have benefitted from having a conservation easement placed on the landowner’s property, maintaining Colorado’s important ranching heritage, supporting local economies, and preserving landscapes, wildlife habitat, and industries that attract tourists year-round. Thank you to Eagle County Conservation District and Access Real Estate for sponsoring, and ECO Transit for providing two buses for the day.

On August 6th EVLT held its largest fundraiser of the year, the conservation-themed 3rd annual Legacy Festival. Thank you to our Title Sponsor Alpine Bank, Vail Honeywagon, R.A. Nelson, El Pomar Foundation, and more for making the event possible. An exciting silent auction, free family fun, and the famous Cow Patty Bingo brought people together to celebrate our community’s collective conservation successes.

Cow Patty Bingo & Vail Daily Banner
Bessie the cow roams the bingo field in search of the perfect square.

On hand were conservation-minded local agencies, non-profits, businesses, and community members, all of whom care about the question, “what will be our legacy?” When people from our community buy a deed to their square(s) on the bingo field, and even if they do not win, they know the “field of dreams” is more than just 40 x 80 feet. Our mountain community is that field. The impact of our largest annual fundraiser is enduring. Ranching and wildlife, wilderness, and scenic beauty are all alive in Eagle County. We must keep them alive and well, forever. That must be our legacy. You help make it possible.


For thirty-five years, many people have entrusted Eagle Valley Land Trust with the important role of preserving the places that mean so much to our community. Together with landowners, engaged citizens, ranchers, and community support, EVLT continues to fulfill its mission to preserve forever our scenic vistas, open space, historic lands, waterways, and wildlife habitats that represent the uniqueness of Eagle County and the central Rocky Mountains for the enjoyment, education, and benefit of all who experience this special place.

Together we are making a difference. We are leaving a legacy of conservation that will ensure the places we love that are still here today, are here tomorrow.  Already, more than 7,700 acres in Eagle County have been protected, forever. From the East Vail Waterfall and West Avon Preserve, to Miller Ranch Open Space and the latest Abrams Creek Open Space in Eagle, these places will be enjoyed for their scenic, natural, and recreational qualities for generations to come.

Bringing full circle the concepts of heritage and legacy, EVLT will host its first Farm to Fork harvest dinner on Thursday, August 25 on a ranch in the Lake Creek Valley of Edwards. Guests will enjoy locally-sourced food, some from Lake Creek itself, while overlooking another ranch conserved forever by a forward-thinking landowner in partnership with EVLT. One will quite literally get a taste for the connection between land conservation and the local, healthy, and vibrant food our community values. While enjoying a fine glass of wine, one might also ponder – and realize – the importance of ranching heritage, protecting our historic land and precious wildlife habitats, and the legacy we desire to leave for future generations.

Only a few tickets remain. Call 970-748-7654 to buy your tickets today.

What will be your legacy?

Tom Wessel is the Community Outreach & Development Manager at EVLT. Call 970-748-7654 or visit for more information.

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