Trust Our Land: Land & Rivers Fund businesses make local conservation possible during a pandemic |

Trust Our Land: Land & Rivers Fund businesses make local conservation possible during a pandemic

Bergen Tjossem
Eagle Valley Land Trust
35 local businesses have continued to support land and river conservation efforts through the pandemic via the Land & Rivers Fund, a collaboration between the Eagle River Watershed Council and Eagle Valley Land Trust.
Todd Winslow Pierce photo

Surviving and recovering from the economic impacts of the pandemic is a complicated challenge that virtually every industry, business, organization, family, and individual in Eagle County is grappling with. 

Nonprofits across the country, like the Eagle Valley Land Trust, depend on support from the community to pursue their missions, which makes them vulnerable to economic fluctuations and downturns. Fundraising experts predict that charitable giving, the foundation of many nonprofits’ annual income, is expected to decline this year and next, due to the economic challenges our country is facing.

Fortunately, conservation in the Eagle Valley has an important ally — local businesses. The Land & Rivers Fund, a collaboration between EVLT and the Eagle River Watershed Council, was created three years ago based on two simple principles: Our rivers and lands drive our local economy forward, and protecting these resources are in the best interest of our community.

Even through turmoil, closure, reduced revenue, a ski season cut short, a public health crisis, and a variety of other challenges, 35 local businesses have continued to support the fund on a monthly basis. 

“The Land & Rivers Fund needs our support more than ever. We have seen a huge increase in usage of our local public lands & rivers during the pandemic. New residents and longtime locals are excited to help protect the lands & rivers close to home,” noted Sean Glackin, owner of Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards.

You’ve likely noticed the Land & Rivers Fund signs at some of your favorite institutions. Typically, Land & Rivers Fund businesses add an optional 1% charge at checkout. That 1% adds up quickly. 1% on a $10 purchase is just 10 cents, but that simple equation, multiplied by 35 businesses dedicated to the natural bounty of our community, adds up.

So far this year, the Land & Rivers Fund has received $61,577 that will be put to work protecting land and waterways in Eagle County. In addition, these funds provide an annual scholarship to a local graduating senior pursuing a degree in Environmental Science, Natural Resources, or a related field.

“As the saying goes, ‘We couldn’t do it without you,’ and this has never been more true than with the Land & Rivers Fund. Our 35 business partners have continued to support this program even during the pandemic, and we are so grateful that they value our land, rivers, and conservation efforts in this beautiful valley we call home,” said the director of the Fund, Sue Nikolai.

Most people who have spent time outside recently can see that the pandemic has led to increased use and enjoyment of our outdoor spaces and rivers. That means the work of conservation organizations such as EVLT and the Watershed Council is more important than ever. 

 “As a result of our waterways and river access points seeing more use this summer, the need for watershed advocacy — whether it’s educating about the importance of river temperature awareness around fishing, offering engaging workshops on useful topics such as rain barrel use, and offering volunteer opportunities for the community — is incredibly important. We are doing all we can to focus on our work and are so grateful for the Land & Rivers Fund for helping support us in doing that,” said Melanie Smith, development & communications coordinator at the Eagle River Watershed Council.

“Thanks to these businesses, we can spend time we would otherwise dedicate to fundraising on our core mission, which is conserving land and serving our community,” said Jessica Foulis, EVLT’s executive director. 

It’s been a tough year for our community, and we can’t thank our Land & Rivers partners enough for their dedication to conservation through thick and thin. Current partners include:


  • Root & Flower
  • Two Arrows Coffee
  • Up the Creek
  • Vail Fine Wines
  • Rob Schilling Coldwell Banker
  • Vail Catering Concepts


  • Minturn Anglers
  • Sunrise Minturn
  • Jerry Sibley Plumbing


  • Fancy Pansy
  • Vail Valley Rolfing
  • Balance Point Construction


  • Main Street Grill
  • Riverwalk Theater
  • Village Bagel
  • Maker + Stitch
  • UPS Stores (Edwards-Vail-Avon)
  • Form Attainment Studio
  • Alpine Quest Sports
  • Gallery 8 Arts
  • Drunken Goat
  • Cut
  • Bishop Bindings


  • Eagle Ranch Wine & Spirits
  • A Good Sport
  • QuietKat
  • Katch of the Day
  • Sendy Sauce
  • Bonfire Brewing
  • Yoga Off Broadway
  • Sweet Leaf Pioneer


  • Tu Casa Restaurant and Coffee Shop
  • Firebox Bar
  • Motley Fabric

Bergen Tjossem is the Eagle Valley Land Trust’s deputy director. For more information or to join the Land & Rivers Fund, contact Sue Nikolai at To learn more about the Eagle Valley Land Trust’s conservation work, visit

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