Letter to the editor: Beetle kill does not diminish conservation value of protected lands
“When Colorado Open Lands accepts a conservation easement, we make a firm commitment to the landowner and the community that we will steward and protect that land forever. And forever is a very long time.”
County Commissioners, using our tax dollars, are fighting Colorado Open Lands to break their “firm commitment to the landowner and the community,” just 22 years after a conservation easement was accepted for the Fiester Preserve.
Commissioners voted on this precedent setting extinguishment of a conservation easement without the subject being on the public agenda. There have been no public hearings. This, after a remarkable 78% of Summit County voters passed a tax on themselves, to purchase more open space.
Forests naturally cycle over perpetuity. The conservation value of the land does not change. Karn Stiegelmeier argues beetle-kill trees removed from the preserve have diminished the conservation value. Beetle-kill trees have been removed from thousands of acres of Summit County protected lands to mitigate wildfire. Have these parcels lost their conservation value? Of course not! These treated lands and the Fiester will be forested again. Nature recovers. Several years ago, Frisco Elementary students planted trees on the Fiester. Some are 5 feet tall now.
Land preserved in perpetuity cannot be at the mercy of the latest development idea addressing pressing community concerns. How about affordable housing on the Giberson Preserve? What about a much-needed county airport on the Doig Homestead Preserve? Let’s not start down this slippery slope. We all have our cherished open spaces that we count on.
Karn Stiegelmeier, Elisabeth Lawrence and Thomas Davidson, our commissioners, should do the right thing and stop their lawsuit against Colorado Open Lands.
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