Renewing commitments to Western organizations advancing critical conservation and community priorities

This week Louis Bacon‘s Moore Charitable Foundation renewed our long-standing support of three stellar Western organizations advancing important conservation and community priorities: protecting open spaces and cultural integrity, keeping families and land together, preserving wildlife habitat, and arming new generations of stewards with the tools they need to shape the future of conservation and the places they live.

The mission of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts is to promote and support land conservation excellence in Colorado.

The mission of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts is to promote and support land conservation excellence in Colorado. Photo (C) Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts website.

Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts (CCLT) is Colorado’s statewide membership organization for the land conservation community that works to secure support for increasing open space and preserving agricultural land and water ways. Members of CCLT have preserved more than 2 million acres of Colorado’s most cherished lands, including family farms and ranches, wildlife habitat, popular trails, recreational areas and iconic vistas. This year we are excited to support CCLT’s efforts to convene experts and advance best practices in land conservation through a contribution to their Annual Conservation Excellence Conference to be held in March. This is really the place for the land conservation community across the Rocky Mountain region to share knowledge, network and define the future of land conservation in the Intermountain West.

CCALT helped to preserve the 19,000 acre Patterson Ranch near Kim, Colorado, which represents three generations of a family keeping their agricultural heritage and traditions alive in a remote and rugged portion of Southeastern Colorado.

CCALT helped to preserve the 19,000 acre Patterson Ranch near Kim, Colorado, which represents three generations of a family keeping their agricultural heritage and traditions alive in a remote and rugged portion of Southeastern Colorado. Photo (c) CCALT website.

Colorado Cattleman’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) was formed in 1995 to help Colorado’s ranchers and farmers protect their agricultural lands and encourage the intergenerational transfer of ranches and farms – a best practice in land conservation. Since then, CCALT has partnered with landowners across Colorado to protect productive agricultural land and help agricultural families to achieve estate planning goals, pay down debt, save for retirement, pay for long-term health care and college education, diversify and expand operations, and preserve their agricultural heritage. It has also helped to preserve the natural resources that make Colorado such a special place to live and visit.

Finally, we are delighted to support the important work of The Costilla County Economic Development Council (CCEDC). This dedicate org is committed to improving Costilla County’s standard of living by pairing economic development with the preservation of the county’s cultural and agricultural resources. In short, they support small, clean businesses and protect the area’s culture and environment. This year, our funds will help repair and preserve an historic theater in the significant Sangre de Cristo Heritage Center, a special place that features works of art from its own collection and on loan from various artists and collectors, many of whom are local residents.

Stay tuned for more news from the West next week – and if you don’t already, follow us on Instagram for scenes from the glorious West – thanks to the results-driven preservation work of our fabulous partners.

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The Case for Private Land, as Critical For Conservation

As we celebrate Public Lands Day this weekend, The Western Landowner Alliance’s Executive Director Lesli Allison highlights the need to consider the landscape as a whole and the critical role private lands play in sustaining the wildlife populations, water resources and ecosystems that that transcend ownership boundaries. Her op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal is published in full here:

For many of us, maintaining access to public lands, water and wildlife is a paramount concern. We not only desire to ensure these things are available to us today, but to guarantee they will be available to our children and all future generations.

These are not “soft” benefits. They are important to our quality of life and also to local, regional and national economies.

Over 47 million people a year in America head into the outdoors to hunt and fish. Hunting and angling are often the cornerstones of many small rural businesses. Hunters and anglers spend tens of billions of dollars annually, supporting our economy at many levels – from coffee shops and gas stations to major companies that manufacture firearms, outdoor clothing and fishing tackle.

These expenditures directly support jobs and ripple through the economy to the tune of $200 billion per year.

In New Mexico alone, approximately $665 million is gained.

At the same time, those of us who care about the opportunity to hunt, fish and enjoy wildlife into the future must first care about the welfare of the fish and wildlife themselves. While we take pride that in New Mexico more than 160,000 anglers spend $268 million a year, this high level of recreation and the resources that sustain it must be managed carefully.

A critical component of this economic juggernaut is the streams that occur on private lands.

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, “Nearly 70 percent of the nation’s fish and wildlife habitat is found on private lands, making conservation efforts on farms, ranches and forests crucial to many species.”

These conservation actions by landowners deliver benefits far beyond their boundaries. In addition, fish and wildlife need refugia, which in many cases is provided by private lands where public recreational pressures are often lower. These “sanctuary habitats” are places where fish can rest and lay eggs in peace and quiet, where birds can nest and deer and elk can drink water and deliver their young.

In New Mexico, streams on private land harbor some of the last populations of imperiled species, including native fish such as the Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

We need to take a “fish eye view.” At what point is recreational access more important than the species itself? Shouldn’t we seek a balance between human-facing habitat and wildlife-facing habitat? In New Mexico’s fragile stream systems, private lands play a crucial role in providing this balance.

There are ways we can solve the stream recreation challenge without undermining landowners’ good faith stewardship of streams and fisheries.

Public/private access agreements already exist in many places. Local guides earn their livelihoods leasing access from landowners and as a result bring in recreational tourists who boost New Mexico’s economy, creating jobs in our rural communities. Many landowners provide special hunting and fishing opportunities for youth, the disabled and for veterans in search of healing.

Public/private partnerships to restore streams and fisheries across public and private boundaries benefit us all equally as well as important aquatic and terrestrial species

If we are to conserve fish and wildlife populations for current and future generations, we need to consider the challenge from all perspectives and to insist that the quality of our engagement with one another remain worthy of the resources and opportunities we all want to protect. Our ability to do so will determine in large measure the world we leave our children.

Lesli Allison, is a founding member and Executive Director of the Western Landowners Alliance. She is also a founding member and most recently executive director of the Chama Peak Land Alliance. Through both organizations, Lesli has worked extensively with private landowners and multiple stakeholders to advance conservation, sustain working lands and support rural communities.