Vail Valley Voices: Land Trust conserving land forever |

Vail Valley Voices: Land Trust conserving land forever

Jason Denhart
Vail, CO, Colorado

For many years, our community has taken part in a robust discussion about land conservation and the protection of open spaces in Eagle County. This year, these open space conversations have markedly increased due to several land transactions that are currently in progress.

From the soon to be conserved Miller Ranch open space to the Homestead “L” land transaction, and from the Eagle Valley Land Swap to the purchase of properties along the Colorado River for public river access, our community has certainly had much to talk about as it pertains to saving and protecting open spaces. We should all be extremely proud to live in a community that values our natural environment.

For 30 years, the Eagle Valley Land Trust has been the qualified conservation organization entrusted by our community to guard and defend our protected open space lands. The Land Trust is certified by the state of Colorado and accredited by the national Land Trust Alliance.

Your local Land Trust has been here for all of the major land conservation efforts within Eagle County. And we are still here today, working in partnership with the community to protect and conserve our precious lands for the enjoyment, education and economic benefit of all who experience this special place.

As significant land projects like Miller Ranch, the Homestead “L” and the Eagle Valley Land Swap move forward toward completion, thus adding hundreds of new acres of protected lands for our community, your local Land Trust would like to take the opportunity to explain the process of protecting land “forever.”

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First, it must be understood that there are two types of open space:

1. Land that is open space today but could be developed tomorrow, next year or 50 years from now.

2. Land that is open space today that will remain open space forever, with no development ever allowed on that land.

This is a significant point. Just because land is open space today does not mean it will be open forever. The only way to completely ensure a parcel of land will remain open forever is through the use of a conservation easement.

A conservation easement is an enforceable legal agreement between a land owner and a qualified conservation organization that removes development rights from land.

The Eagle Valley Land Trust is the qualified conservation organization of record in our community. Therefore, your local Land Trust works in partnership with local land owners to place properties into conservation easement, protecting that land from future development forever.

If current open space does not have a conservation easement placed upon it, then that open space is only open for now, and it may still be developed in the future.

It is the conservation easement agreement, held by your local Land Trust, which creates perpetual open space. The conservation easement is the key element in protecting land forever.

The Eagle Valley Land Trust currently holds 19 conservation easements on behalf of our community.

These 19 parcels account for more than 6,000 acres of protected land.

Without your local Land Trust, and without the conservation easement tool we use, these open space lands would not be able to be protected forever.

In Eagle County, we can rest assured that our community can and will protect open space forever due to the good work of the Eagle Valley Land Trust, and the use of conservation easements held by the Land Trust.

Later this fall, the Eagle Valley Land Trust eagerly anticipates announcing the addition of four more conservation easements to our community’s portfolio of land saved forever from development: the 160-acre East Lake Creek Ranch, 138 acres of Homestead open space, 33 acres of Miller Ranch open space, and 25 acres of Creamery Ranch open space.

These four parcels — 356 acres in all — will soon be protected forever due to the perseverance of The Eagle Valley Land Trust and our charitable investors, along with help from the Homestead Homeowners Association, the Creamery Ranch Homeowners Association and Eagle County.

In the coming weeks, please look for announcements and events to celebrate the saving of these lands.

The Eagle Valley Land Trust is proud to place permanent conservation easements on precious open spaces that benefit our entire mountain community… forever.

For more information about the work of your local Land Trust, please contact me at or 970-748-7654.

Jason Denhart is the director of communications and development for the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

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