Opinion: Forever means forever. Colorado’s iconic landscapes require “perpetual conservation easements” protection

By Melissa Daruna

There has been a lot of talk in the local news lately about perpetual conservation easements. What is this tool, and why should people care?

A perpetual conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government entity to protect land — and its associated natural resources — forever.

The core goal is permanent protection. We need this tool to permanently protect Colorado’s iconic landscapes. It’s therefore critical that we protect the tool.

Since 1965, nonprofit land trusts and their partners have helped Colorado landowners conserve more than three million acres of working lands, wildlife habitat and open spaces that define our state and contribute to our quality of life.

This work is voluntary, collaborative, nonpartisan and local. More than 30 nonprofit land trusts are responsible for the stewardship of nearly 80% of the 2.2 million acres of private land conserved in this state — and they rely on perpetual conservation easements to ensure this activity continues.

To use an example of one well-known area that is permanently protected, let’s look at Greenland Ranch.

greenland_ranch_douglas_county

 

Greenland Ranch is an undeniably gorgeous eight-mile span of rolling hills, rugged overlooks and sweeping vistas that drivers see as they travel along I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs.

Sitting on 21,000 acres, it is the oldest-operating cattle ranch on the Front Range. It’s hard to imagine that drive without the open space that, for so many, is iconic of Colorado and everything our state represents — and that draws people here in the first place.

And yet, given all of the growth in Colorado in recent years, it’s also easy to imagine how that view would change if dotted with subdivisions, strip malls and big-box stores. Such development would create a radically different look and feel for our Colorado.

Fortunately, that second scenario will never take place on Greenland Ranch. Urban sprawl will never define that land, thanks to a conservation easement that permanently protects it — and the commitment of land conservation partners and the landowner who shared a vision to keep the area in its natural state.

The list of properties around the state that Coloradans enjoy and that are protected by perpetual conservation easements is long — from peach orchards in Palisade, to Fisher’s Peak in Trinidad, to a mining claim now protected as open space in San Juan National Forest’s Weminuche Wilderness, to publicly accessible recreation trails in Eagle Valley; and the list goes on.

In Summit County, the Fiester Preserve adjacent to the County Commons is an example of an open space in a more urban setting that’s protected by perpetual conservation easements; its original easement was put into place to protect the property’s value as an open space, invulnerable to development.

It’s important to realize that while conservation easements are a tool designed to primarily protect private lands, they offer real public benefits — including access to clean water, unblemished views, preservation of wildlife and in many cases, access to outdoor recreation opportunities.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

A Life Or Death Situation – A Letter From Kim Morse

From K Morse
To CdeBaca, Candi – CC XA1404 Member Denver City Council Candi.CdeBaca@denvergov.org, amanda.sawyer@denvergov.org amanda.sawyer@denvergov.org, amanda.sandoval@denvergov.org amanda.sandoval@denvergov.org, chris.hinds@denvergov.org chris.hinds@denvergov.org, Kashmann, Paul J. – City Council Paul.Kashmann@denvergov.org, Herndon, Christopher J. – City Council District 8 Christopher.Herndon@denvergov.org, ortegaatlarge@denvergov.org ortegaatlarge@denvergov.org, Deborah Ortega deborahortega@icloud.com, Kniech, Robin L. – City Council Robin.Kniech@denvergov.org, stacie.gilmore@denvergov.org stacie.gilmore@denvergov.org, kevin.flynn@denvergov.org kevin.flynn@denvergov.org, jolon.clark@denvergov.org jolon.clark@denvergov.org, kendra.black@denvergov.org kendra.black@denvergov.org, jamie.torres@denvergov.org jamie.torres@denvergov.org

 

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Council Representatives,
You’re more than likely familiar with the statement pictured above.
Selling off open space may not seem like a life or death situation to you but it is just one more step in that direction for all life forms that exist today.  News outlets reported last week that July 2019 was the hottest on record.  Our air and water quality is increasingly compromised by human activities.  We loses countless species (mammals, birds, insects, etc.) each year through extinction due to human activities, including encroachment on their habitat, pollution and the resulting warming of our planet.
Our increasing landmass of asphalt and concrete contributes to local warming, which contributes to the need to use more fossil fuel to cool our homes, cars, offices, etc., not to mention lost productivity, health issues and more.  I encourage you to step outside of the City and County and head across the street to the greenery of Civic Center Park on a 90+ degree day. Take in the very noticeable difference in temperature between the streetscape you’ll cross on your way to the park and the park itself. It’s dramatic.  We need more trees, plants and other natural landscape, not less.
It is incumbent on each and every one of you to do what you can to Stop Park Hill Golf Course from being covered in asphalt and concrete.  Let’s not be shortsighted here and think about our own personal interests in open space or financial gain today.  Let’s think about the future that we want to leave for our children and their children. Continue reading

Thoughts On Leadership

By newspaper537 / July 31, 2019 / News  Greater Park Hill Community Newsletter

It’s Time For Our Elected Officials To Up Their Game

By Brenda Morrison

For the GPHN

Given Denver’s rapid growth and strong economy, it’s both a blessing and curse to be in public leadership.

Unlike other communities, Denver is not facing budget cuts, structural deficits or unfunded pensions. Denver’s residents have been generous, approving bonds and tax increases in order to ensure that the city grows and maintains services, continues to provide parks and open space, and invests in behavioral health.

Yet the city is also facing rising home prices, traffic and congestion, and a rapidly growing homeless population.

These issues are going to demand that all of us raise our game. And that must begin with our elected officials.

Let me make it clear: I am asking our city leaders to embrace their responsibilities. That means both in tough and in good times.

I get it. It’s hard to balance diverse and often demanding constituencies, weighing current needs with those of the future, with your own personal values.

Continue reading

The Densification of Denver

More than a century ago, Denver’s leaders — inspired by the City Beautiful movement — built toward the ideal of a “city within a park.” But the last 20 years have seen immense change, as Denver’s population has exploded and developers cover more and more of the city’s remaining nature.

As development eats away at Denver’s green space, the “city within a park” is becoming a concrete metropolis

Green space per capita decreasing in the Mile High City as leaders sign off and developers transform urban environment

As Denver’s population surges, and developers race to meet demand, a lack of green space in the city is rankling residents. In this photo, apartment buildings north of downtown Denver are seen from the air on Sept. 25, 2018. Aerial support for photos was provided by LightHawk.

Tent-hunting at REI, Jackie Von Feldt and her friends lamented that they choke inside booming Denver and were preparing an escape.

They wanted peace, and calming views, with room to roam and starlit night coolness they could savor in silence. So they pored over an array of ultra-light shelters for a trip into Colorado’s mountain wilderness that, hopefully, wouldn’t entail too much traffic.

“You definitely have to leave the city. I wish it wasn’t like that,” said Von Feldt, who grew up in Wichita, where a carefully platted park gave residents a natural oasis.

“It just feels hectic being in the city,” she said. “You cannot get that detachment from the chaos.”

Von Feldt is caught in a green-space crunch that is hurting Americans as cities grow denser, more paved over and more crowded. Denver epitomizes this diminishment of nature in the city, a trend worldwide with 55 percent of humanity living in urban areas and a projected 2.5 billion more people on the way by 2050

READ FULL ARTICLE AT THE DENVER POST