Trust Our Land: Back to the future, together | VailDaily.com
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Trust Our Land: Back to the future, together

Oliver Skelly
Eagle Valley Land Trust
Join Eagle Valley Land Trust and partners to envision the future of Eagle County.
Photo By Todd Winslow Pierce

Let’s try out a thought exercise. Close your eyes and begin to imagine the Eagle River Valley, but with a caveat — the year is 1500 CE.

Unrecognizable? Maybe. Now let’s begin a sprint back to modern day. From big game migrations to Ute hunting parties up until the first homesteads in the mid-19th century, the valley changes little.As the bounties of the area were shared far and wide, the pace quickens — gold and silver mines sprout up; Highway 6 gives way to I-70; the advent of this crazy little thing called skiing — and boom! Modern day.

Now let’s try this again but instead of going backwards 500 years, let’s go forward and try to grasp the next 20, 50, maybe even 100 years.What excites you? What scares you? What makes you uncertain and what makes you eager?

The Eagle Valley Land Trust has been exploring these time travel exercises since our origin, back when Beaver Creek was just an inkling of an idea. Longtime local Roger Tilkemeier and Forest Ranger Don Price — two of EVLT’s founders — saw the potential of the Eagle River Valley and the community that it was bound to foster. They knew that to balance the needs of our local community with those of a booming tourism industry, they would need to bring together open space advocates, wildlife watchers, nature lovers, families, ranchers, hikers, cyclists, history buffs, and conscientious developers to create a unified voice out of a diverse coalition.

This listening tour has taken us a long way, but it’s time for the next step. EVLT is looking to redefine its role in the community, as new challenges unfold and opportunities arise. Our local population is growing quickly and associated development is expanding. The pandemic has accelerated this growth, presented a variety of new challenges and amplified those challenges that existed previously.

For example, local wellness and livability is changing, wildlife populations continue to plummet, and our tourism based economy is in flux. These are complex problems, but conservation can play a key role in addressing them.

For 40 years, EVLT has been working to protect land for our community, wildlife, and future generations so that everyone can enjoy nature’s diverse benefits. To know what our next 40 years will look like, we need to know from you which issues, challenges, or initiatives matter most. How can the Eagle Valley Land Trust make our community a better place to live and work? Some questions that come to mind:

Where is access to nature limited?

What special places need special attention?

How should wildlife, recreation and development be balanced?

What does conservation mean to you?

It’s a big conversation, and we’re dedicated to listening. To get the process started, we need to hear from you. Please join us for the upcoming virtual community forum on Dec. 3 from 6:30-8 p.m. The conversation will include leaders from other communities who have met similar challenges with creativity and ingenuity.

Please be prepared to listen, learn, and offer your ideas for what is possible in our community. By joining the forum, you will be automatically entered to win gift certificates from our partners including Alpine Quest Sports and others!

Conservation in Eagle County means little if it doesn’t mean something to you. Make that meaning heard on Dec. 3. Head over to https://evlt.org/youre-invited-evlts-community-forum/ or email community@evlt.org to learn more. We’ll see you there.

Oliver Skelly is the Eagle Valley Land Trust’s community conservation lead intern and can be reached at oliver@evlt.org. To learn more about EVLT’s local conservation work, visit http://www.evlt.org.


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