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Trust Our Land: Together we can double conservation in ten years

Watching the elk herds descend into the valley is a reminder of the value of conservation. These elk aren’t returning to just any piece of land – they’re returning to the critical winter habitats where they know they’ll find solace. Many of these wildlife sanctuaries are open spaces protected by the Eagle Valley Land Trust. That means they’ll be here for the elk every year, forever.

When I see elk in the open spaces our community has permanently protected for them, I feel overwhelming gratitude to everyone who has supported EVLT and our work for the last 42 years.

It takes an enormous number of partners, resources, donors, staff hours, and community advocates. But every single protected acre is worth it.

Let’s Keep Going

Since 1965, Colorado land trusts have protected over 3.3 million acres across our state. That’s an area the size of 624 Vail ski resorts. 

All that time, we’ve listened. The recurring feedback we’ve heard? “Keep going.” A recent poll by Keep It Colorado found that over 80% of Coloradoans feel more needs to be done to protect open spaces and natural resources. On top of that, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, our local elk herds are struggling to survive as our community grows. 

To protect more of the lands that our wildlife, community, and economy depend on, we’re announcing an ambitious goal: to double conservation in the next ten years.

Help Us Double Conservation

It’s a simple goal that requires a multifaceted approach. To double conservation, we need to double three things: engagement, resources, and strategies.

Doubling engagement means connecting more community members with protected land and the conservation process. We’ll increase the number of outreach programs, facilitate more diverse program offerings, expand conservation visibility, and continue to break down barriers to accessing open spaces. Increasing landowner engagement is also critical, since good conservation is done in partnership with willing landowners who care about the future of their land.

Doubling resources means bringing more dollars to conservation. With more funding, we can increase the number of resources available to landowners interested in conservation, fund more conservation easement transactions, and support our land trust’s operations.

Doubling strategies means creating and implementing new conservation tools like critical habitat linkages, collaborative water solutions, innovative financing strategies, and resilient agriculture. While conservation easements are a phenomenal tool, they don’t fit every situation. There are more strategies we can deploy to protect our lands, rivers, ecosystems, and open spaces.

Conservation takes commitment. It takes funding. It takes a community. Doubling conservation in ten years is a massive undertaking that will require greater financial resources. I believe this community is ready for the challenge. 

Thank You for Your Support

As we close out the year, I want to share my gratitude for everyone who got us to where we are today. Your support prepared us to take on this ambitious goal.

First, I want to thank the EVLT team. Our board and staff work tirelessly to make local conservation possible – from monitoring our conservation easements, to launching new community programs, to unveiling our new brand and website. This team makes it happen, and they’re ready for the next step.

I also want to thank landowners who make conservation a priority. This includes individuals and families who have conserved their lands, and also Eagle County and the towns of Gypsum, Eagle, Avon, Minturn, and Vail. This work is only possible because of willing landowners.

I am grateful for EVLT’s steadfast donors who provide the fuel that drives our work forward. Some of you have donated annually for decades. Others made their first gift this year, and we are so happy you have joined our team. Big or small, every dollar makes a difference.

Lastly, thanks to all of our partners, including the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement for their work addressing barriers to accessing nature, and the Eagle County Community Wildlife Roundtable for their collaborative conservation work. Partnerships help our small teams make a big impact. 

As open spaces in our community become fewer and farther between, protected land becomes far more valuable, and protecting more land grows increasingly critical. As we chip away at a pipeline of exciting large-scale projects focused on protecting the scenic open spaces, critical wildlife migration corridors, and recreation opportunities that support our mental and physical well-being, we’re grateful to this community for its continued support. 

It’s because of you that we’re ready to take on this goal to double conservation in the next ten years. Thank you for joining us on this journey to protect our community’s most important lands. Forever. For all.

Jessica Foulis is the Eagle Valley Land Trust’s Executive Director. You can contact her at Jessicafoulis@evlt.org. To learn more about EVLT’s land conservation work, partnerships, and to donate, visit their new website at www.evlt.org.

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