Colorado has a rich heritage of productive farms, ranches, and abundant natural resources – all of which can be found in our mountain landscapes and prairie vistas. For decades now, Colorado’s working lands have attracted businesses, families, and tourists – requiring a shift towards a delicate balancing act between development and maintaining what makes Colorado, Colorado.
Colorado, like it or not, continues to grow. Our working landscapes and iconic viewsheds are under constant pressure of being broken up for a variety of reasons – generational shifts from family farming or ranching, development, financial hardship, and more.
We know Coloradans overwhelmingly support the conservation of our resources, including our private lands. One tool available to landowners interested in preserving their heritage is the conservation easement. The conservation easement is a tool for some – not all – landowners interested in preserving their private property in order to continue their family heritage, or protect an iconic viewshed. Private property rights mean that all landowners have the ability to do with their land as they wish. For some, a conservation easement makes sense, for some, it does not – but it remains the right of the landowner to make that decision.
What is a land trust?
A land trust is a non-profit organization organized as a charitable entity under the laws of the United States and Colorado. Land trusts work with landowners to voluntarily conserve open lands located in the area the land trust serves. Land trusts in Colorado are located in communities across the State, and are run primarily by volunteer boards, some of whom have the assistance of paid staff. Land trusts work with their neighbors to help voluntarily conserve Colorado lands without government regulation.
What is a public agency or local government open space program?
Some state agencies and many local governments including cities, counties, recreation districts and conservation districts have publicly funded local and regional open space programs that work to preserve urban and rural open space and natural areas by providing planning, management and maintenance of neighborhood parks and open space. Many hold conservation easements as well as acquiring land through methods such as direct purchase, transferred development rights, intergovernmental transfers, and others. Like land trusts, local governments work with their neighbors to help voluntarily conserve Colorado lands.
What is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement that a landowner can enter with a qualified conservation organization typically a land trust or a public agency. The conservation easement restricts particular development and uses on the land in order to protect conservation, agricultural, and scenic values of a property in perpetuity. The landowner still owns the land and can sell, transfer, and use the land. Conservation easements are flexible and tailored to meet the management needs of the landowner and their family. More information about CCLT member land trusts and public agencies in Colorado is available in the Membership section.
How do I conserve land?
Land trusts and public agencies use a variety of tools to accomplish voluntary land conservation, including the acquisition (by donation or by purchase) of conservation easements, deed restrictions, and fee title to land, envelopment of management agreements, and strategic estate planning. CCLT member land trusts, public agencies, and professional members are experts at working with willing landowners to craft the result that works best for the landowner and their community on each individual transaction.