Trust Our Land: Putting land to work for our community
by Bergen Tjossem
By Jessica Foulis
Conserving Eagle County’s most important lands for our community has been at the heart of the Eagle Valley Land Trust’s mission since its creation in the early 1980s. EVLT and land conservation nationwide have come a long way since then. This November, we are thankful for our local partners that have helped to advance the mission and impact of conservation in our community.
Our local lands are physically and metaphorically the foundation of our community. For many, our lands are the reason to live in Eagle County. Protected land, especially near our homes, workplaces, and schools, allow us to enjoy nature’s diverse benefits and reap the physical and mental health rewards. Maybe that means going for a walk with a loved one at Miller Ranch Open Space, mountain biking at the West Avon Preserve, or appreciating our agricultural heritage at the Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space. These protected lands provide the space and opportunity for reflection and relaxation that are increasingly fleeting in our busy world.
Protected land can do more. Community Conservation is a term that begins to describe how conservation work and protected lands can meet needs in our communities and neighborhoods in addition to being open and free. EVLT’s signature Community Conservation programs are Future Conservationists and the Community Land Connection Series (CLC), both of which rely on partnership and protected open spaces throughout Eagle County to build meaningful connections to nature.
Future Conservationists aims to connect as many youth to local conserved lands as possible to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship that can last a lifetime. Our outstanding youth-serving partners, including Walking Mountains Science Center, Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement, The Cycle Effect, Bright Future Foundation’s Buddy Mentors, and the Homestead Club Kids Program help connect even more students to local protected land, and for that we are grateful.
EVLT’s signature Community Land Connection Series is a program designed to engage locals and visitors alike on some of our local protected lands through guided educational hikes on historic and culturally significant lands. Thanks to support from Alpine Bank, EVLT was also able to launch two volunteer restoration pilot projects as part of the CLC series. These projects were designed to not only improve and restore important local wildlife habitat, but also to connect community members who care deeply about our wildlife and natural environment. CLC 2019 was successful because of our partnerships with Eagle County Open Space, Eagle County Historical Society, Nurtured By Nature Forest Therapy, Family Leadership Teaching Institute, 4-H, Eagle County Extension Office, Town of Eagle, Town of Avon, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Hike it Out, and Las Chicas Trepadora.
The Eagle Valley Land Trust is in the process of designing the 2020 Community Conservation calendar and we want to hear from you about how we can build land-based solutions to important community issues. Are you interested in participating in a volunteer restoration project? How do you think we can further connect our community with nature and protected land? Would you or your organization like to partner with us? Other ideas? Share with us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Foulis is the Stewardship and Outreach Manager at the Eagle Valley Land Trust. She can be reached at email@example.com. EVLT is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For more information about the Eagle Valley Land Trust and how it is conserving land and benefiting the community, visit http://www.evlt.org.