Coalition launches push to save 3.3 million acres of Colorado private property from development |

Coalition launches push to save 3.3 million acres of Colorado private property from development

Bruce Finley
The Denver Post

A state-backed coalition of conservation groups is launching an unprecedented push that would pay private landowners to save 3.3 million acres of natural terrain from development.

That’s a small portion of Colorado’s total 66 million acres, which include nearly 40 million acres of private property. Robust real estate activity and new construction, bringing high-end houses and commercial buildings to once-pristine mountain valleys, has added urgency to the effort.

“They’re not making any more land. We can always build more, but we can’t get those natural spaces back,” said Jim Petterson, a board member for the Keep It Colorado coalition, made up mostly of land trusts. The coalition also includes other conservation nonprofits, Colorado Springs Utilities, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Colorado Youth Corps Association.

Saving 3.3 million acres of private land within ten years — the goal Keep It Colorado announced Wednesday at the Denver Botanic Gardens — would match the amount of private land protected against development since 1965, according to data in a “Conserving Colorado” strategy unveiled after a $300,000, 18-month planning effort. Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Water Conservation Board and Great Outdoors Colorado provided funding.

Private land conservation increasingly is seen as essential for enduring multiple threats: cascading impacts of climate warming, including droughts, heat waves, wildfires, erosion, extreme storms; degradation of ecologically sensitive areas; water scarcity; and economic challenges that threaten to drive ranchers and farmers out of agriculture.


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