Trust Our Land: An annual celebration of Eagle County’s heritage | VailDaily.com

Trust Our Land: An annual celebration of Eagle County’s heritage

By Deirdre Conroy
Eagle Valley Land Trust

Ranching and caring for livestock has been a defining feature of modern-day Colorado for over 100 years. In the western portions of our state, ranching first began in 1866, and took off around 1882. Ranching has been profoundly influential in shaping the landscape and culture of the Eagle County, founded in 1883, that we love today. 

Eagle Valley Land Trust has been working to preserve the open spaces, wildlife habitat, and heritage of Eagle County since 1981. EVLT currently protects over 11,200 acres of land in Eagle County across 36 properties thanks to partnerships with Eagle County, the towns of Gypsum, Eagle, Avon, Minturn, Vail, and private landowners.

In addition to publicly accessible open spaces, EVLT also protects three multi-generational working ranches to help preserve our community’s ranching heritage. EVLT preserves the historical roots that these ranches represent because they are an important element of our cultural values. EVLT’s signature annual fundraiser, Cow Patty Bingo, is a testament to these goals. 

Cow Patty Bingo, presented by American Gypsum, raises funds for local land conservation and honors Eagle County’s agricultural heritage. By working together, EVLT and 4-H are able to raise funds for the formative youth programs that build agricultural career skills like raising and selling livestock.

The steer that selects the Cow Patty Bingo winner — the 4-H Grand Champion — is an award-winning outcome of this great program. Cow Patty Bingo is also an opportunity for 4-H stewards to demonstrate their mastery of caring for and handling livestock. These skills have been passed down for generations. 

Community events are a great way to inspire camaraderie, collective responsibility, and a sense of home. Similar to how Cow Patty Bingo and the Eagle County Fair operate today, the early days of cattle ranching were an all-inclusive affair. There was always work to be done — all members of the family needed to lend a hand in driving cattle (sometimes on the range for multiple days at a time), maintaining the home, food garden, and processing produce.

By age 13, youth were often already contributing to challenging ranch upkeep. Similarly, Cow Patty Bingo invites local youth to care for and show livestock and engages the larger community in grassroots fundraising.

You’re invited to celebrate local history and conservation. Cow Patty Bingo takes place just before the 4-H Junior Livestock Auction at the Eagle County Fair this Saturday, July 27, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. By purchasing deeds at http://www.evlt.org/poop, which secure your square on the life-sized bingo board, you are directly supporting the conservation of open spaces, wildlife habitat, and our community’s heritage. We hope to see you there.

Visit http://www.evlt.org to learn more about EVLT’s work protecting land and working ranches and to secure your Cow Patty Bingo deeds. 

Deirdre Conroy is the Community Outreach Program Assistant at the Eagle Valley Land Trust. She can be reached at community@evlt.org. EVLT is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For more about the Eagle Valley Land Trust and how it is conserving land and benefiting the community, visit http://www.evlt.org.