Trust Our Land: Eagle Valley Land Trust is saving land locally with Colorado Outdoor Principles (column) | VailDaily.com

Trust Our Land: Eagle Valley Land Trust is saving land locally with Colorado Outdoor Principles (column)

Bergen Tjossem
Trust Our Land

A new angler catches her first fish at Miller Ranch Open Space, permanently protected by the Eagle Valley Land Trust. Colorado's Outdoor Principles provide a stewardship ethic that unites conservation and recreation in our state.

As locals, Coloradans and visitors know, Colorado is rapidly evolving. We have a growing population and a booming outdoor recreation industry across the state. Through an act of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado became the first state to adopt the SHIFT Principles, now known in Colorado as the Colorado Outdoor Principles.

The adoption of these principles signifies a modern addition to the state's conservation model that moves the focus of management to an outdoor ethic that promotes both inclusive recreational enjoyment and thoughtful conservation of Colorado's special places that can keep pace with our dynamic state.

Eagle Valley Land Trust has adopted Colorado's Outdoor Principles and is determined to uphold each of them in our ongoing conservation work.

1. Outdoor recreation and conservation require that a diversity of lands and waters be publicly owned, available for public access and cared for properly. The Land Trust permanently protects more than 11,200 acres across 35 properties, 15 of which are publicly owned (e.g. town of Vail's East Vail waterfall or Eagle County's Hardscrabble Ranch), provide public access and conserve important scenic vistas and wildlife habitat. We work with each property's owner to maintain its ecological integrity.

2. Within Colorado's diversity of land and waters, private land plays a critical role in preserving the ecological integrity of a functional landscape that is necessary for robust and meaningful outdoor recreational experiences. The Land Trust protects 20 private properties that support a diversity of ecological and social value across our region.

3. Both recreation and conservation are needed to sustain Colorado's quality of life. Both are beneficial to local economic well-being, for personal health and for sustaining Colorado's natural resources. All of the Land Trust's conserved properties have recreational value, conservation value or both.

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Thirty-four miles of public trails traverse our publicly owned conserved properties. These conserved properties and our privately owned conserved properties protect 10,116 acres of wildlife habitat and 10.5 miles of river corridors.

4. All recreation has impact. Coloradans have an obligation to minimize these impacts across the places they recreate and the larger landscape through ethical behavior. On protected lands with recreational access, the Land Trust strives to support the landowner in creating and maintaining sustainable solutions to the impacts of outdoor recreation.

5. Proactive management solutions, combined with public education, are necessary to care for land, water and wildlife and to provide the protections needed to maintain quality recreation opportunities. The Land Trust upholds the highest standards of conservation management and is accredited by the Land Trust Alliance.

Our outreach programs, including Future Conservationists and the Community Land Connection hiking series, provide public education for Eagle County locals and visitors.

6. Physical, biological and social science must inform the management of outdoor recreation. The Land Trust relies on physical and biological science provided by organizations such as Colorado Parks and Wildlife to determine ecological value and the prioritization of conservation projects. Our Community Survey helps us maintain alignment with our community's values.

7. Stable, long-term and diverse funding sources are essential to protect the environment and support outdoor recreation. Land protected by the Eagle Valley Land Trust is protected forever. The Land Trust is uniquely aligned and managed to steward our protected properties forever and is funded by conservation-minded individuals, families, businesses and a diversity of other sources, including 1 Percent for Land and Rivers, grants and local events.

Do these principles resonate with you? You or your organization can adopt the Colorado Outdoor Principles at http://cpw.state.co.us/partners.

Bergen Tjossem is the communications and fundraising coordinator at the nonprofit Eagle Valley Land Trust. He can be reached at bergen@evlt.org. For more about the Eagle Valley Land Trust and how it is conserving land and benefiting the community, visit http://www.evlt.org.