Vail Daily column: Questions for the executive director
Trust Our Land
Eagle Valley Land Trust’s annual Legacy Festival took place this past weekend, and many locals came out to celebrate the land we love and all the efforts that go into protecting it. Eagle Valley Land Trust Executive Director Jim Daus addressed some of the most common questions he received from the community, about the Land Trust and what it takes to protect our favorite places.
Q: What is a land trust?
A: A land trust is a nonprofit organization that actively conserves land by way of conservation easement acquisition and stewardship. Since its inception in 1981, Eagle Valley Land Trust has worked with property owners (both private property owners, as well as land owned by local governments) to permanently conserve nearly 8,000 acres of land for the enjoyment, education and benefit of all who experience this special place.
Q: How does it work?
A: In return for significant financial benefits, property owners willingly promise, via a contract (called a conservation easement) with us, to forfeit the bulk of their development rights and protect the property’s natural beauty. For example, subdivision of the property is restricted and houses and other buildings are limited in number, size and location. The owner retains full ownership and can continue to use the property as they always have. Future owners are bound by this contract, so the promise is forever.
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Q: What are some examples of land parcels here in the valley that are protected by the Eagle Valley Land Trust?
A: The Land Trust holds 33 conservation easements, including nearly 8,000 acres forever protected. The East Vail Waterfall, Abrams Creek in Eagle, the Homestead Open Space and the West Avon Preserve are just a few protected spaces with which you may be familiar.
Q: Does the Land Trust inhibit access to land for public use?
A: No. It is the property owner’s choice whether or not to allow public access, such as a trail, across a portion of their property. The land trust will support the property owner’s decision about public access. Those lands conserved by the Eagle Valley Land Trust conservation easements, but owned by the county or towns, typically include significant public access, including trails and boat ramps.
Q: Is this a proven way to conserve land?
A: Yes! There are nearly 1,700 land trusts nationwide doing exactly what we are doing. Throughout the decades, these land trusts have preserved more than 56 million acres nationwide and more than 2 million acres in the state of Colorado alone.
Q: It seems like our community is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. Can you share some of the Land Trust’s future plans?
A: With the community’s support, the Land Trust is committed to forever conserving an additional 20,000 acres of land in the next 10 years. This would double the amount of protected private and public land in Eagle County.
Q: Protecting the land I love is important to me, but I don’t know how I can help. Can you share some specific examples of what we can do?
A: The Land Trust could not exist without generous donations from our community. You can give by calling us or visiting our website (evlt.org). You can also get involved by signing up to volunteer with the Eagle Valley Land Trust, and by joining us for one of our upcoming events.