Estes Valley Land Trust Opens New Office
Mayor Bill Pinkham was on hand to cut the red ribbon and welcome the Directors, members, volunteers and interested public to celebrate the spacious, new location and sample delicious appetizers.
Rebecca Urquhart, President of the Board, said “Estes Valley Land Trust is one of over 1,500 land trusts nationwide, 30 of which are located in Colorado. Each Land Trust is unique in the type of land it protects and the way it is structured. The Estes Valley Land Trust is no exception.”
Started in May 1987, EVLT is an incorporated and tax-exempt nonprofit organized to preserve and protect open space, valleys wetlands, streams, ranch land, and wildlife habitat in the Estes Valley and surrounding area. Distinguished among Land Trusts as part of the first group nationwide to be awarded national accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in 2008, EVLT is also unique because during its first twenty years, its operations were entirely reliant on volunteers.
Only in the last four years has EVLT hired office staff and acquired office space. As size and responsibility increased, one part-time staff member was hired four years ago. Last year another part-time staff member was added.
Today EVLT is still unique as its office staff is small compared to the workload of over 155 land parcels under conservation protection covering 9,200 acres. Mary Banken, Director of Operations, said, “EVLT still relies heavily on an active working Board of Directors and a host of volunteer monitors and committee participants to accomplish its tasks in an efficient manner. In addition, EVLT has been joined by crucial financial partners including Great Outdoors Colorado, Colorado Department of Wildlife, Larimer County Open Space, the Town of Estes Park and many private citizens.”
Why has the EVLT grown so quickly in the Estes Valley? Our residents love open space and our landowners want to maintain the beauty of this valley for future generations.
Every time another land owner places a conservation easement on property, the land is protected from development “in perpetuity.” A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a land owner and a land trust. Individually designed to meet the owner’s intent and wishes, an easement permanently restricts the property’s use in order to preserve its conservation value. Title to the property remains with the land owner who may receive tax credits or other benefits (state and federal) for the donation of the development rights.
Once the conservation is in place, the work of EVLT does not stop. EVLT is responsible for annual monitoring of each property to make certain the contract provisions are fulfilled and there is no non-conforming use of the land. When properties change ownership, the conservation easement remains in place, and EVLT helps future owners to understand and comply with requirements.
Next time you drive to Estes Park on Highway 36, enjoy the view of Meadowdale Ranch and Hermit Park. The lands are in conservation easement “in perpetuity.” Next time you are in downtown, walk the property at Knoll Willows. It is in conservation easement as is the land across from the River Walk.
Stop by the new office of EVLT and view the map of all the conservations easements that exist in the area. Learn more about how you might support the efforts through donation, membership, or land conservation. Open spaces are preserved through the commitment of the entire community.