Letter: Sweetwater — how sweet
In late 2018, when I was working with the great team at Eagle Valley Land Trust, I remember sitting by Sweetwater Lake, marveling at the cliffs towering over tranquil turquoise waters and the bald eagle and osprey circling overhead. Yet here I was, fretting about the future of this breathtaking place with Sweetwater Community members Adrienne Brink, Hope Anderson Kapsner, and Liz Mooney. They shared stories of the decades-long battle for access and worry for the future of the lake, a coveted asset seemingly locked in the hands of private developers.
It was once again for sale by a real estate developer that had a vision for a private lakeside community and commercial water plant. I called Tom Macy at The Conservation Fund and we brainstormed ideas. With The Conservation Fund’s experience and access to desperately needed funding, maybe something could be done this time?
Perhaps the key moment occurred two weeks later, when Tom hired Justin Spring. Justin had the needed experience with the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service-Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He was able to cobble together enough top-level support to make an attempt. This would have gone nowhere without him.
Tom was indispensable too, most notably convincing the landowner to trust in the great track record of The Conservation Fund and the good chance of successfully raising the necessary funds to purchase the property. The developer signed the contract!
The team at the Land Trust, including Jessica Foulis and Bergen Tjossem, ramped up the Save The Lake campaign to build local and regional support necessary to the success of the project. All these organizations, shepherded by The Conservation Fund, moved in concert, and got it done together. This is the best possible outcome. Congratulations everyone!
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Delmar, New York