The Outdoor Adventure Expo is fast approaching!

Taking place at Cherry Creek State Park September 23rd & 24th. It is a free public event to encourage outdoor recreation opportunities throughout Colorado. There will be motorized and non-motorized boating, shooting sports, camping, hiking, biking, climbing, fishing, education programs and more!

Click here to learn more about the event.

CPW is still seeking organizations for participation as exhibitors; this would be a tabling/booth opportunity to showcase products or services that they provide related to outdoor recreation. Click here for the registration web page with more information about exhibiting at the Expo.

Investments in conservation easements reap benefits for Colorado

A new study from Colorado State University finds each dollar invested by Colorado in conservation easements produces between $4 and $12 of public benefit for Coloradans. Read the press release here:

Colorado’s diverse landscape has a rich natural and agricultural heritage that fuels the economy. Photo: Michael Menefee

Colorado’s diverse landscape has a rich natural and agricultural heritage that fuels the economy. Photo: Michael Menefee

From the press release: "Based on the new analysis, the CSU research team found the investments from the state programs conserve:

  • More than 114,450 acres of preliminary priority habitat for greater sage grouse
  • Nearly 300,000 acres of prime farmland
  • 250 miles along designated scenic byways
  • More than 4,100 miles of streams, creeks, and rivers
  • More than 270,000 acres of habitat used by elk during severe winter conditions

The state programs have invested nearly $1.1 billion on conservation easements since 1995, according to the new analysis. CSU researchers — who examined data on 2.1 million acres of Colorado lands with conservation easements — said the related benefits for state residents are as high as $13.7 billion."

Colorado Trail Explorer

Gov. Hickenlooper announces Colorado Trail Explorer -

an online statewide trail map

posted from news blog

DENVER — Friday, June 2, 2017 — The Colorado Trail Explorer – a comprehensive online statewide trail map and a key component of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful initiative – is now live and available to the public in celebration of National Trails Day on June 3.

The Colorado Trail Explorer includes more than 39,000 miles of trails managed by more than 225 jurisdictions across the state. It ranges from paths managed by towns and counties to hiking, bicycling or motorized trails running through state parks and federal lands. It represents the first-ever effort to provide routes for every trail in Colorado through a single mapping tool.

“The Colorado Trail Explorer builds on our Colorado the Beautiful initiative by giving people quick and easy access to recreational opportunities and more readily connects people with the outdoors,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “Consolidating trail information that traditionally exists in dozens or hundreds of places into a single application makes it easier for Coloradans to find the trail options that might be just beyond their back door or near a favorite destination.”

Trail managers across Colorado have collaborated with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and mapping leader Esri to provide data for the project since it was announced in June of 2015. To date, the Colorado Trail Explorer includes more than 17,000 trails and maps more than 1,400 trailheads. While the online map is now fully public, work continues to add additional data, particularly related to non-motorized trails on federal lands. CPW will continue working on a mobile app for the Colorado Trail Explorer. Currently, the desktop version is mobile friendly.

The online tool allows users to search for trails by name or to simply pan and zoom to explore trails across the state. Trails and roads in the map are color-coded to indicate their primary use, such as trails that allow only horses and hikers, those that allow mountain bikes and other bicycles, those that allow motorized access, and those designated as urban bicycle routes.

The project marks a major step forward for outdoor recreation in Colorado as even navigating various trails in the Denver metro area often requires a piecemeal approach with maps from different jurisdictions.

The Colorado Trail Explorer project is a key component of Colorado the Beautiful’s broader goal to ensure, within a generation, every Coloradan will live within 10 minutes of a park, trail or vibrant green space as a way to develop deeper connections with the natural environment that sets Colorado apart as a special place. Wide access to trails also translates to physical and mental health, as well as economic benefits for the state.

Colorado Trail Explorer Tutorial Video

Learn more about Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful initiative. Learn more about Colorado’s outdoor industry at the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. Find outdoor recreation opportunities at Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado.


Ilana Moir named Kinship Conservation Fellow

Congratulations to Ilana Moir! She has been selected to be a 2017 Kinship Conservation Fellow. Ilana is a leader in the Colorado conservation community as Director of Conservation at Mesa Land Trust in Grand Junction and on the CCLT Board of Directors

The 2017 Fellows program will take place in Bellingham, Washington from June 25-July 26. Ilana's fellowship work is titled, "Wetter Isn’t Better: Developing a Toolkit for Western Land Trusts for Conservation of Water..."

The Kinship Conservation Fellows train experienced conservationists in the use of market-based principles to address environmental challenges. The program’s ultimate aim is to see large-scale conservation outcomes related to increased health of environmental systems and reduced environmental threats. Read more about the fellowship program here.

Sagebrush Landscapes Program

Montana Sagebrush landscape, credit to NFWF.

Montana Sagebrush landscape, credit to NFWF.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation created the Sagebrush Landscape Program in 2017 to address bottlenecks in sagebrush conservation and promote healthy rural agricultural economies in the western United States. The program is a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and NFWF.

Key conservation strategies for this program include wet meadow habitat enhancement and restoration as well as the “all lands” management approach. Learn more about this new program on their website here.

New clarity on the IRS tax shelter notice

The IRS has published a welcome supplemental Notice complementing an earlier Notice that made conservation easement tax shelters "listed transactions." The Land Trust Alliance has provided a blog post and links to the notices and provided background information.

In the new Notice 2017-29, which was published April 27, the IRS makes clear that land trusts are not material advisors. This confirms what the Land Trust Alliance has said since the publication of the earlier Notice 2017-10, and we are pleased to see this affirmation.

Notice 2017-29 also makes clear that individuals and entities that packaged and promoted conservation easement tax shelters must still meet a May 1 deadline to report their involvement with those transactions to the IRS. That deadline is unchanged.

This new clarity represents a victory for all people who support land conservation. That's the bottom line. But if you would like to better understand the background, please review IRS Notice 2017-10: What Land Trusts Need to Know and IRS Notice 2017-10: What Landowners Need to Know.

As always, we will continue to keep you abreast of significant developments regarding the IRS Notices and the transactions they target.

GOCO board selects Chris Castillian for Executive Director position

Tuesday, February 7, 2017 -- GOCO

To our partners and friends,

On behalf of the GOCO Board of Trustees, I’m pleased to share that we have selected Chris Castilian for the GOCO executive director position.

A native of Colorado, Chris has worked in both the private and public sectors. He brings a lengthy history of public service, including serving as deputy chief of staff for Gov. Bill Owens, as well as director of the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners. Most recently, Chris was director of strategy and engagement for Anadarko Petroleum Corp., where he led government affairs, social investment, employee engagement, and stakeholder outreach for the Rockies region. He currently serves as a commissioner for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and is on several other boards of nonprofit organizations throughout the Denver metro area.

We’re confident Chris will bring his expertise in strategic management, government relations, and community building to GOCO and lead this organization through the implementation of our strategic plan—Protect, Connect, and Inspire. Throughout Chris’s life and work he has continued to carry a passion for the outdoors and conservation. With his combined skills and passion, he’ll be a strong leader for GOCO, and we’re excited to see how his innovative approach will help shape the organization’s future.

Please join us in welcoming Chris into the GOCO community. As always, thank you for your partnership and support and for doing the great work you do for our state.

Jason Brinkley
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)

Please contact GOCO at with questions.

Denver Post Op-Ed: Conservation tax credit program too critical not to fix

Rob Bleiberg, Executive Director of Mesa Land Trust since 1996, penned an eloquent opinion column published in the Denver Post on Colorado's conservation easement tax credit program. 

Rob's long history in this community gives him a powerful voice to our community's issues. Rob has served on the CCLT board of directors, the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission, and the Colorado Board of Real Estate Appraisers. Thank you, Rob, for sharing your unique perspective

This Colorado legislative session, CCLT is working with our conservation partners to effect positive change for the conservation easement tax credit program. I look forward to sharing more details as the session unfolds. 

Photo courtesy of John Fielder.

Photo courtesy of John Fielder.

via Denver Post
January 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Maxine Aubert spent her honeymoon as the camp cook for the family sheep ranching operation atop Pinyon Mesa, southwest of Grand Junction. In the following decades, she returned each summer with her husband, Auggie, a crew of relatives and hired help. Children soon joined the mix, and later grandchildren. Summers with her family among aspen forests and wildflower-filled meadows were an annual ritual that Maxine repeated for 52 years.

Perched on the rim of Unaweep Canyon, the Aubert Ranch is a strategically located wildlife mecca. It provides critical habitat for deer, mountain lions and bears, and is a migration corridor for one of Colorado’s premiere elk herds.

After her husband passed away, Maxine became determined to conserve the place that held so many memories. Because of its incredible wildlife and scenic values, my organization, the Mesa Land Trust, was delighted to help.

Colorado’s conservation easement tax credit offered the perfect tool to make Maxine’s dream a reality. In 2006, Maxine donated a conservation easement, safeguarding a family legacy and protecting a remarkable piece of state.

Unfortunately, problems in the state’s management of the conservation easement program may make success stories like this less common.

Read More

USDA Announces $252 Million Available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Kaveh Sadeghzadeh

Applications requested for innovative partner-driven projects

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2017 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today invited potential conservation partners, including private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments, water districts, and universities to submit project applications for federal funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Through this fourth RCPP Announcement for Program Funding (APF), USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will award up to $252 million dollars to locally driven, public-private partnerships that improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability.  Applicants must match or exceed the federal award with private or local funds.

“Through unprecedented collaboration, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program has established a new paradigm for working lands conservation that yields unparalleled results,” Vilsack said. “Working together, RCPP projects in every state are demonstrating the ways in which locally-led initiatives can meet some of our most pressing natural resource concerns.”

Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP connects partners with producers and private landowners to design and implement voluntary conservation solutions that benefit natural resources, agriculture, and the economy.  By 2018, NRCS and its more than 2,000 conservation partners will have invested at least $2.4 billion in high-impact RCPP projects nationwide.

For example, three existing RCPP projects bring together more than 40 partners, including USA Rice, Ducks Unlimited, California Rice Commission, the Walmart Foundation and The Mosaic Company, to accelerate conservation on rice lands in six states facing water quality and quantity challenges. These projects, collectively called the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership, aim to conserve water and wildlife habitat while sustaining the future of rice farming in the United States. With unique technical expertise and needs, each state is leading a partner-driven, local approach to conservation in rice agriculture.

In its most recent RCPP awards, NRCS last month announced that 88 high-impact projects across the country will receive $225 million in federal funding, with more than double that investment from partners.  The new Gulf of Mexico – Forest to Sea RCPP project will conserve Florida’s pristine “Big Bend” area along the northeastern Gulf by implementing innovative conservation solutions with private working forest owners. Using an impact investment approach, The Conservation Fund and 12 partners will implement an easement and restoration plan on large forested tracts to address the natural resource concerns while allowing sustainable timber harvesting and maintaining local jobs. The project will serve as a model for further conservation and impact investing in the region and beyond.

NRCS Chief Jason Weller encourages partners to consider conservation finance and environmental markets as they develop RCPP project applications. “The growing field of conservation finance provides opportunities to inject significant investment capital into projects that protect, restore and maintain our natural ecosystems,” says Weller.

USDA is now accepting proposals for Fiscal Year 2018 RCPP funding. Pre-proposals are due April 21. For more information on applying, visit the RCPP website.

Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat. For an interactive look at USDA's work in conservation and forestry over the course of this Administration, visit