Letter to the editor: Conservation easements are a perpetual protection tool | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: Conservation easements are a perpetual protection tool

Melissa Daruna
Keep It Colorado executive director

There has been significant discussion about whether to develop Fiester Preserve. A perpetual conservation easement designated the property as a protected landscape, and that is worth honoring.

A perpetual conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government entity to protect land — and its associated natural resources — forever. The easement placed on Fiester Preserve was intended to protect the property’s value as an open space. Colorado Open Lands is the land trust that was made responsible for the management of that easement and stewardship of the property. Like other accredited land trusts, Colorado Open Lands relies on perpetual conservation easements to ensure this activity continues.

Like many Coloradans, we and our land trust members place a high value on protecting Colorado’s precious natural outdoor spaces, which are unquestionably vulnerable to population growth and development. We’re not antidevelopment. We believe in creating a state where people thrive alongside the lands, waters and wildlife that define Colorado. Fitting those pieces together takes careful thought and planning, and conservation easements play an important role in that process.

What some people might not realize is that many of the iconic views that draw people to Colorado in the first place are protected by perpetual conservation easements: from the rolling hills and sweeping vistas of Greenland Ranch, to Fisher’s Peak in Trinidad, to a former mining claim in Weminuche Wilderness, to recreation trails in Eagle Valley. Many Coloradans would feel devastated if tract housing developments and Walmarts filled these landscapes.

We must carefully consider strategies to protect Colorado’s nature. We want our grandchildren to look back on our generation and say, “We’re grateful for what they did to keep Colorado special.”

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