Our Story

Eagle Valley Land Trust endeavors to conserve and protect our natural spaces and special places… Forever.

In the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, our community is a special place with unique and unparalleled natural beauty and natural resources. We are preserving the character of our community one acre at a time.

Saving Land for People

Open space conservation in our community connects people to the land.  The Eagle Valley Land Trust saves and protects our local land for our people – our families, neighbors, homeowners, businesses, ranchers, sportsmen, tourists and guests.  Your local Land Trust provides outdoor experiences, emotional connections and economic benefits to the people of Eagle County… forever.

Protecting Our Views and Landscapes

Supporting local lands and open spaces protects our lush valleys, mountain vistas, waterways, and wildlife.  Our conservation work has a lasting impact on scenic view sheds and helps save our Colorado landscape and Western heritage for the benefit of our entire community… forever.

Protecting Our Recreational Opportunities While Fueling our Economy

Local land conservation protects the recreational values, outdoor experiences, and sporting opportunities that drive the local economy. Our beautiful local lands are places for people… hunters and fishermen, bikers and hikers, ranchers and cowboys, snowshoers and skiers, bird watchers and boaters. Your local Land Trust protects the open spaces and wild places that supply outdoor recreational opportunities and fuel our local economy… forever.

Providing a Legacy for Our Future

Investment in open space and land conservation allows us to preserve a mountain legacy for ourselves, our kids and grandkids. Saving our Colorado landscapes and waterways will guarantee the quality of life we enjoy today will remain unspoiled for tomorrow. The great outdoors, the exhilaration and the emotional feeling we all experience in the nature that surrounds us… this is worth protecting for future generations… forever.

Recognized for Excellence

Your local Land Trust has been recognized for our leadership of local conservation by numerous organizations over our 30 year history.  In 2000 we were honored by the Eagle County Soil Conservation District for our “numerous contributions to the field of soil and water conservation”.  In 2012 we received the Jane Silverstein Ries Award for our “pioneering sense of awareness and stewardship of land use values in the Rocky Mountain region”.  And we have twice been named the “Small Non Profit of the Year” by the Vail Valley Partnership, most recently in 2012.  These honors prove that when we make a promise to land owners and our community, it truly is… forever.

EVLT Quick Facts:

  • Eagle Valley Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered with the IRS
  • Eagle Valley Land Trust is certified by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs (DORA)
  • Eagle Valley Land Trust is nationally accredited by the Land Trust Alliance
  • Eagle Valley Land Trust was founded in 1981.
  • Eagle Valley Land Trust is governed by a 17-member volunteer Board of Directors
  • Eagle Valley Land Trust works with a variety of entities including private landowners, Eagle County Government, town governments, metro districts and numerous state and federal agencies.
  • The mission of the Eagle Valley Land Trust is to protect forever our scenic vistas, open spaces, 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 people who live in and experience this special place.
  • Eagle Valley Land Trust is supported by a generous grant from Vail Resorts EpicPromise.  Learn more about EpicPromise here.

A History of the Eagle Valley Land Trust

The Eagle Valley Land Trust was founded in 1981 by ranching advocate and passionate conservationist Roger Tilkemeier. Originally called the Eagle County Land Conservancy, the organization became the Eagle Valley Land Trust in 1982 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization supported entirely by charitable contributions. It was the third land trust established in the state of Colorado.

From 1981 to 1997, the Eagle Valley Land Trust was operated solely by a dedicated group of volunteer conservationists who served on the Board of Directors.  The all-volunteer organization created awareness of the need for conservation in Eagle County and educated the public about the benefits of land management, wildlife habitat protection and the use of conservation easements.  During this time, they accepted the first donations of land, made by the Johnson ranching family in the Brush Creek area of Eagle, Colorado.  The Johnson Family lands were placed into conservation easement in 1993, the first recorded conservation easement for the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

The recording of this first conservation easement generated renewed energy amongst the volunteer-led organization.  Long-time Board President Terrill Knight reinvigorated the Eagle Valley Land Trust, added several new board members and began a fundraising campaign to raise the necessary money to hire a full-time professional staff member.  In 1996, the Land Trust was awarded a grant by the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund, which was matched by local dollars to complete the funding necessary to hire an Executive Director to lead the organization.

After a substantial search, the Land Trust hired Brad Udall, son of U.S. Congressman Mo Udall and nephew of U. S. Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, as their first Executive Director in May, 1997. He served as Executive Director from 1997 to 2001.  Under Brad’s leadership, the Land Trust completed several significant projects, including the permanent protection of the Webster Ranch, the first conservation easement placed in the pristine Lake Creek Valley, an early achievement the Land Trust continues to build upon to this day with our “We Like Lake Creek!” campaign.  During Brad Udall’s tenure, nearly 2,000 acres of private property were protected with conservation easements.  The Land Trust was also successful in the public acquisition of more than 1,800 acres along East and West Brush Creek which became part of Sylvan Lake State Park.

In 2002, driven by the energy and leadership of long-time supporter Diana Cecala and President Emeritus, Dr. Thomas Steinberg, the Eagle Valley Land Trust helped to organize and lead a community-wide effort to create a dedicated source of funds at the County level to acquire open space and conserve it for the benefit of the citizens of Eagle County.  A citizen-drafted ballot initiative was undertaken, and in the Fall elections of 2002, Referendum 1H was passed by the voters to establish a dedicated mill levy specifically ear-marked for open space projects in our community.  In early 2003, responding to the will of the people, the Eagle County Commissioners established the Eagle County Open Space Program which is funded annually by the mill levy authorized by the voters.

From 2002 to 2009, the Eagle Valley Land Trust saw a period of growth, adding 14 conservation easements to the community portfolio of permanently protected land, consisting of more than 4,000 acres conserved forever for the people of Eagle County.  The Executive Director during these years was Cindy Cohagan.  One of the highlights of these years was the creation of The Eagle River Preserve, a 72-acre conservation easement created from the former Eaton Family Ranch.  The Preserve has become a “central park” for our mid-valley region with over a mile of publically accessible river frontage.

In 2004, the Land Trust received the coveted and highly competitive “Non-Profit of the Year” Award presented by the Vail Valley Partnership – our community’s Chamber, Tourism and Convention Bureau.  Eagle Valley Land Trust was selected in February 2007 to be one of 22 land trusts to participate in the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission’s pilot program.   In September 2008, EVLT became one of the first to be awarded national accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance based on a rigorous external review of the governance and management of the organization, and its systems and policies used to protect land. The accreditation seal is awarded to land trusts that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.

In 2009, Kara Heide was named Executive Director of the organization and she served in that capacity until 2014.  Heide is a 35-year veteran of Vail Resorts, Inc. and former Senior Director of Corporate Contributions and Public Affairs for the resort company.  Under her leadership, community outreach, public awareness and conservation education have become a strong focus for the Land Trust.  The annual conservation easement monitoring program and land stewardship program were also expanded.  During this time, an effort to connect people to the lands that they love was undertaken, and priority was given to local conservation projects offering public access and passive outdoor recreational opportunities to the citizens and guests of our community.  From public hiking trails to public access along our local rivers and streams, the Land Trust saves land for the people of our community.

In 2012, the Eagle Valley Land Trust added 5 new conservation easements, totaling more than 350 acres of publicly accessible lands for the citizens of Eagle County.  The hallmark of these efforts was the successful Homestead Conservation and Public Recreation Project providing extensive public trail systems and ‘front door’ access points directly from local neighborhoods into the White River National Forest.  The achievement of this ‘front door’ access was Phase II of the Land Trust’s “We Like Lake Creek!” campaign to create a mosaic of conservation in the Lake Creek region.

In 2013 and 2014 the Eagle Valley Land Trust added four new conservation easements, totaling more than 930 acres of conserved land for Eagle county residents and their guests. Three of these conservation easements, Duck Pond, Horn Ranch Conveyance, and the West Avon Preserve, provide  exceptional public access to our rivers, mountains, and open spaces.

In August 2014, Jim Daus was named the new Executive Director at the Eagle Valley Land Trust. After four highly productive years at the Eagle Valley Land Trust, Jim moved to New York with his wife, Larissa, to be closer to family. Jessica Foulis took over as executive director in January of 2020.

The Eagle Valley Land Trust annually stewards, monitors and inspects over 7,300 acres of land conserved for the benefit of our county, its residents and our guests; and has helped to protect nearly 10,000 acres of land in the greater Eagle River Valley and surrounding counties. Currently, the Land Trust holds conservation easements on 38 properties that include working ranches, scenic viewsheds, riparian and wildlife habitats, and community accessible open space. These properties stretch from East Vail to the entrance of Glenwood Canyon and from Tennessee Pass near Leadville to Yarmony Mountain near the Routt County border.

Your local Land Trust continues to actively pursue new conservation projects for the people of Eagle County by identifying future lands for protection within our mountain community.