I hope everyone had an enjoyable and inspiring Earth Day this week! Earth Day is a perfect time to reflect upon our natural environment and celebrate our Mother Earth and all of her bounty. As the springtime season comes to life in our valley, your Eagle Valley Land Trust is beginning to plan for our summer land stewardship efforts. Land stewardship is one of the most important aspects of local land conservation efforts. Here in our community, the Land Trust is proud to have a strong corporate partner in Vail Resorts to help us accomplish our stewardship responsibilities.
Due to the generosity of Vail Resorts Echo and the support and investments provided by Echo, the Eagle Valley Land Trust will continue our enhanced and expanded environmental Land Stewardship Program this summer for the more than 7,300 acres we hold in conservation easement throughout Eagle County, with primary focus on those land parcels that provide public access. This Land Stewardship Program consists of on-site monitoring and “boots on the ground” inspection of all conservation easement lands in Eagle County to survey and record their current conservation values while notating natural habitats, native and rare plant species, riparian and wildlife corridors and the general state of the land. This summer project will be led by a certified biologist-ecologist, Dawn Barton of West Elks Ecological LLC, who is recognized statewide and highly regarded in the land trust industry. The Land Trust would not be able to embark upon this ambitious, scientific and professional land stewardship program without the generous support of Vail Resorts Echo.
The 2014 Land Stewardship Program will include project management necessary to visit and inspect over 7,300 acres of conserved land in Eagle County in a three-month period, including the recording of GPS coordinates, the taking of documentation photos and the notation of species, habitats and conservation values. The observational and hard data recorded during these inspections and monitoring activities will be used to determine and plan any future conservation, reclamation and/or restoration projects that may be necessary to maintain the current conservation values of our land into the future. Undertaking the Land Stewardship Program will allow Eagle Valley Land Trust to continue to understand, manage and maintain every acre of our locally conserved lands so we may continue to be good stewards of those lands in perpetuity. At the conclusion of the program, the Land Trust will continue to build and hold a comprehensive archive of current conservation values of all lands held under conservation easements in Eagle County. Specific focus will be placed on those lands that provide public access and public recreational opportunities so recommendations and future projects may be planned to enhance and protect these areas for the next generation of residents and visitors.
In concert with the 2014 Land Stewardship Program, the Land Trust will also continue and expand our highly successful Summer Education and Outreach Program with local students in the field — our Future Conservationists project. The program will bring 200 local youth onto our local lands to learn about land conservation issues, conservation values, environmental baseline documentation, importance of riparian corridors and wildlife habitats, and Colorado’s ranching heritage, as well as learn skills such as orienteering, map and compass reading, and GPS navigation and recording. Service learning projects will also be a part of the educational sessions, whereby students will perform an environmental service project at a local conservation area.
The Land Trust is honored and proud to have such a strong environmental and conservation partnership with Vail Resorts, and we are excited to get out onto the land this summer to perform our important land stewardship duties while also educating the next generation of conservationists in our community. We are so very grateful to Vail Resorts Echo for their continued partnerships with and investments in the local land conservation mission of the Eagle Valley Land Trust. Thank you.
Jason Denhart is the director of communications and development for the Eagle Valley Land Trust. For more information about local land conservation, summer land stewardship or the Future Conservationists youth education program, please visit www.evlt.org or call 970-748-7654.