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Vail Daily Trust our Land: How conservation benefits you

by Bergen Tjossem

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk of land conservation around here. Not only is the Eagle Valley Land Trust partnering with Eagle County and others to forever conserve a parcel of ranching land in the Brush Creek Valley, but also we’re working on several other important conservation projects in our community because these projects are at the heart of what we do to protect the lands we love. Over the years, we have conserved 33 properties here in the Vail Valley, to be exact.

Simply put, we enter into agreements called conservation easements with landowners with the goal of permanent conservation. And there are many reasons to conserve land here in Colorado: for our iconic landscapes, our wildlife, our agricultural heritage and our own recreation and enjoyment, to name a few.

But how does land conservation affect our wallets?

A new research study from Colorado State University found that each dollar invested by the state for conservation easements produced benefits of between $4 and $12 for Coloradans.

Public benefits include clean water and air, scenic views, access to things produced by local farms and ranches and wildlife habitat: all things that contribute to a high quality of life in the state. Researchers said these data show that easements are conserving land that is important for wildlife, agriculture, tourism and outdoor recreation for Colorado’s visitors and residents alike.

The study’s authors — who examined data on 2.1 million acres of Colorado lands with conservation easements — said the related benefits for state residents are as high as $13.7 billion.

Here in Eagle County alone, Eagle Valley Land Trusts’ land-conservation work is valued at $37.5 million. For a community of our size, that is significant. The net public and financial benefit of our work far outstrips the minimal dent in tax revenue, and our work does not negatively impact the affordable-housing situation.

Our most recent fundraising effort to add another conservation easement, and thus forever protect a working ranch from development, and keep it accessible for public use, ends Monday. We are grateful for the support of this community, which made the dream of conserving Hardscrabble Ranch a reality.

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