Trust Our Land: Looking Back on 2020 with Gratitude
By Jessica Foulis
As we celebrate the end of this most challenging year, let’s toast to each other; to the accomplishments and successes big and small that got us through. Gratitude is a strong foundation for the year ahead.
I’m grateful for the incredible ensemble of nonprofit organizations that serve our community. Throughout the past year, despite challenges in funding, social distancing, and a dramatic shift in the needs of our communities, local nonprofits have pushed forward, persevered, and doubled down on providing the essential services that we depend on. To the staff, volunteers, and donors of our local nonprofit community, thank you.
The nationwide effort to support local businesses has been truly inspiring, especially around here. There’s a compassionate group of local businesses that I want to give special thanks to – businesses participating in the Land & Rivers Fund. These 35 businesses, despite the challenges they face, have continued to support the Land & Rivers Fund, which distributes funding to the Eagle River Watershed Council and the Eagle Valley Land Trust to support conservation work throughout our community. To these businesses, thank you.
During these uncertain times, our federal, state, and local government agencies and municipalities have been working hard to keep us safe and support our local economies – from public health messaging to programs for businesses and individuals, to opportunities to escape to public lands to recharge in nature. To our elected officials and government staff, thank you.
When economic uncertainty threatened to cut short virtually every conservation project across the country, many in our community took action. Local stakeholders, friends of Sweetwater Lake, and conservation advocates showed up to help push this project forward. The Town of Gypsum, Eagle County, and the Town of Eagle, among many others, made generous contributions that helped propel the campaign to save Sweetwater Lake. To everyone that has made a contribution, of any size, to this project, thank you.
Two other important conservation projects came to fruition this year thanks to the tireless work of several partners. The 1,540 acre Brush Creek Valley Ranch & Open Space grew by 131 acres thanks to the conservation of a critical inholding – the completion of a long term vision made possible by Eagle County Open Space, Great Outdoors Colorado, a passionate group of local stakeholders and donors, and the Ridgway Family. In addition, 1,908 acres of critical wildlife habitat near the Colorado River were permanently conserved this month thanks to the Mulroy family’s conservation vision, along with support from Eagle County Open Space. To all the folks that made these conservation wins possible, thank you.
Local youth-focused organizations have been working overtime to support students through a year like none other. Partnering with organizations like Walking Mountains Science Center, the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM), and The Cycle Effect this year has been a humbling experience. These organizations strive every single day to make sure our community’s youth have a strong foundation. We’re honored to work alongside them on programs like Future Conservationists and the Serie de Conexion.
This holiday season, we’re grateful for the community that we serve; for the generosity of donors that make local conservation possible; for the hard working volunteers that continue to show up; for board members that ceaselessly innovate; for open spaces cherished by people and wildlife; and for the access to nature that have helped make a difficult year one to be proud of.
Jessica Foulis is the Eagle Valley Land Trust’s Executive Director. She can be reached at Jessicafoulis@evlt.org. To learn more about the Eagle Valley Land Trust’s local conservation work and community conservation initiative, visit www.evlt.org.