Eagle Valley Land Trust: What do you love about our local protected open spaces? (column) | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley Land Trust: What do you love about our local protected open spaces? (column)

Jim Daus
Trust Our Land

Love for local protected open spaces is something to ponder during the month of February, and always.

With Valentine's Day, February becomes a great time to reflect on the love we share with our partners and family. Here at the Eagle Valley Land Trust, we have also been reflecting on the love we have for our outdoor spaces and the love we share in the work being done to conserve lands in Colorado.

In the spirit of the season, we've reached out to some of the great stewards of land in the Eagle Valley to discover more about their "most loved lands" and how that love and passion has opened up a lifetime of discovery and a strong commitment to the protection of our open spaces.

• Kim Langmaid, Ph.D., founder, vice president and director of sustainability and stewardship programs at Walking Mountains Science Center — The Walking Mountains Buck Creek Parcel inspires Langmaid as an important piece of conservation for students and future generations.

EVLT: What do you love about this conserved property?

KL: So many of the youth in our valleywide community have the opportunity to experience the property and participate in hands-on learning experiences, which connect them to this land. Whether it's kindergartners learning about the natural history of local beaver and muskrat or fifth graders learning about local mule deer habitat or high school students collecting data on the water quality of Buck Creek, this protected piece of land is accessible to the entire community every hour of every day, every day of the week.

EVLT: Why was it important to conserve it in the first place?

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KL: This land was important to conserve because of its value for environmental and field science education for current youth and for generations to come. It is extremely important that youth have the opportunity to explore the natural world and develop a sense of wonder and connection to our mountain landscape and the wildlife populations we share this valley with.

EVLT: Now that it is conserved, how do you envision the future of that land?

KL: I envision that every person in Eagle Valley has the opportunity to explore this land and learn from it, along with the educators and naturalists at Walking Mountains. This land will provide a dedicated and protected place for the benefit of our entire community.

• Kathy Borgen, Land Trust supporter — Borgen fell in love with the East Vail Waterfall the first time she saw it and knows the importance of conservation to keep a treasured piece of land in pristine condition.

EVLT: What do you love about this conserved property?

KB: We lived in East Vail from 1972 to 1996. It was always a beautiful place, a talisman for the mountains and chutes in East Vail. Every time one looked at it, it revealed another beautiful aspect of the waterfall and the different seasons.

EVLT: Why was it important to conserve it in the first place?

KB: Precisely because it is a scenic talisman for East Vail and Eagle County residents and to keep it safe from inappropriate uses that might scar/erode the area around it.

EVLT: Now that it is conserved, how do you envision the future of that land?

KB: It should be left as it is for all to enjoy the differing aspects of the relationship between water and the mountains.

• Bergen Tjossem, communications and fundraising coordinator, Eagle Valley Land Trust — Tjossem grew up exploring the trails around Buffehr Creek, and those experiences fostered a love of the outdoors at an early age.

EVLT: What do you love about this conserved property?

BT: As a kid in the '90s, I watched the land surrounding my favorite trail, which I thought was a family secret, develop. The Buffehr Creek trail connects to the White River National Forest lands perched to the north of the Vail Valley via the North Trail. The area is home to my favorite bike trail, 20-something years of camping experiences and family memories, secluded ski touring, abundant wildlife and incredible views of both Mount of the Holy Cross and the Gore Range.

EVLT: Why was it important to conserve it in the first place?

BT: The Buffehr Creek Trail wouldn't have lasted long had it not been protected. The valley was simply developing too quickly. This parcel is one of the main access points to the public lands north of the Vail Valley. Losing it would have further reduced recreation access for locals and guests and destroyed a wildlife corridor frequently used by bears, moose and deer.

EVLT: Now that it is conserved, how do you envision the future of that land?

BT: The sign at the bottom reads: "This 9.29-acre parcel is part of the Town of Vail's Open Space Program and is permanently protected for the enjoyment of the public by the Eagle Valley Land Trust." I'm heartened to know that this land will be permanently maintained the way it is and has been. As the Vail Valley continues to develop and outdoor recreation diversifies and increases in popularity, trails like this one will continue to disperse crowds and partially mitigate the environmental impacts of recreation.

Jim Daus is the executive director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust. To learn more about land conservation efforts in the Eagle Valley, visit http://www.evlt.org.