To our donors, supporters, and fellow community members,
You voiced your opinions, shared your thoughts, and contributed when it was needed most. Through these efforts, your passion for land conservation helped us make a case for how much this community values the protection of local ranches and water rights. As a result, the Conservancy recently secured a generous grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). We are pleased and honored to announce that the Conservancy and its partners have received $1.6 million from GOCO to help us protect 2,400 acres near Browns Canyon, in the heart of Chaffee County. This is our largest project to date, and we have you to thank for helping us achieve this massive milestone in our work.
Along with your support, the unique partnership driving this project also made this good news possible. To safeguard all 2,400 acres spread across four different local ranches, the Conservancy has partnered with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) to make this project a reality. This collaboration is critical to the closing of these easements, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of our partners and their time and energy spent to protect Chaffee County.
Conservation easements on these four ranches will protect critical agricultural lands, water, and wildlife habitat for generations to come. Within the 2,400 acres, the Conservancy’s projects include the Centerville Ranch, totaling 650 acres, the Arrowpoint Ranch, totaling of 598 acres, and the Tri Lazy W Ranch, totaling 760 acres. Alongside these three easements, CCALT and TPL will protect Pridemore Ranch, totaling 392 acres.
Local rafters passing through the Arrowpoint Ranch in Chaffee County.
In terms of impact, the overall project features the protection of more than 2,400 acres of working ranches and native grasslands. The easements included also provide protection of several miles of stream, wetland, and riparian corridors along the Upper Arkansas River, a stretch of the river with headwaters essential to overall watershed health.
A word from our Conservation Director, Lucy Waldo:
“We are on a roll with conservation projects in Chaffee County! Central Colorado Conservancy and our partners are really blessed to have strong community support for conservation in the Arkansas River Valley. And the new Common Ground Fund was key to help us leverage large grants to conserve these 2,400 acres. These conservation easements will have a lasting impact on this community. A huge chunk of wildlife habitat, stunning views along the scenic byway, and productive ranch lands will be protected forever.”
To reach this point in our process of protecting these lands, years of work have already been logged. CCALT, TPL and the Conservancy have already secured over $3,000,000 in matching funding, including $1,550,000 from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), $410,500 from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, nearly $1,000,000 from Chaffee County Common Ground Funds, and $95,000 from private foundations and the local community. Although this is a celebration of what has been accomplished and how far we’ve come, we have our work cut out for us before we can fully close these four easements. Our conservation experts on staff are working diligently to submit our final grants and complete fundraising efforts needed to reach our projected closing dates in 2021 and 2022.
Jay Wilson providing a tour of the Tri Lazy W Ranch.
As we celebrate as an organization, we want you to know, this grant is something for the entire community of Chaffee County and beyond to celebrate as well. The hard work and efforts of our elected county officials and community members to launch Chaffee County Common Ground Fund are on full display alongside the momentum of this project. Without Common Ground and everyone who made the program come to life, we wouldn’t be nearly as close as we are to conserving these 2,400 acres.
A message of support from Chaffee County Commissioner, Greg Felt:
“The goal of the 1A ballot measure creating the Chaffee Common Ground program was to leverage local support in addressing landscape-scale challenges to our community. To be awarded a $1.6 million grant from GOCO to protect these iconic agricultural properties is an early success that exceeds my greatest hopes. To the Central Colorado Conservancy, to the Common Ground team, and to our community – Congratulations, we did it!”
With the continued help of supporters like you, these 2,400 acres of working ranch land and wildlife habitat will be conserved at a time when development pressure from Denver has moved west and is beginning to affect small communities like Salida and Buena Vista, in a county experiencing a rate of growth twice the state average. Protecting our local lands, waters, and wildlife here in Central Colorado is of the utmost importance now more than ever, and we can’t thank you enough for your support of our mission.
We will keep you informed on our progress as we get closer and closer to protecting these lands forever. Thank you again for your dedication and passion for our mission here at the Conservancy.
To the possibilities,
Central Colorado Conservancy Staff & Board of Directors