40 Stories in 40 Weeks: 2002 Annual Report, Letter from the Executive Director

What is your vision for our community twenty years from now?

At the Mesa Land Trust, our vision is really quite simple. Look around the community today. Notice the wildlife habitat along the Colorado River, the orchards & vineyards in the East Valley, the irrigated farmland north and west of Grand Junction.

See the landscape of working ranches and large blocks of habitat in Glade Park, Unaweep Canyon, or in Plateau Valley. Appreciate the undeveloped lands that separate the Grand Valley’s municipalities. This is what we see when we look into the future.

Some may dismiss this as naïve or unrealistic. How can we hold this vision in the face of continued, rapid growth? After all, our population is predicted to double in two decades.

Have you ever made photographic prints? From a blank, glossy white sheet, an image slowly emerges. Details appear, recognizable forms take shape, and soon a complete picture is seen.

Over the last two decades, the Land Trust has worked with generous landowners and many supportive partners to conserve 29,000 acres of land. This summer, a Glade Park Ranch, Palisade orchard and Colorado River riparian forest were protected. These accomplishments came about from the generosity of landowners, hard work on the part of the Land Trust, and tremendous support from partners and the community.

Each of these accomplishments is part of an emerging picture. These conserved properties add texture and detail to our vision. Completing the picture will take many more years of hard work, but each conservation success brings more clarity to our image of success.

2020 Update: A lot has changed for us since this letter was published 18 years ago: a new brand, new initiatives, new staff members, a new conservation plan, and plenty of additional acres conserved. Colorado West Land Trust now protects over 126,000 acres in 600 conservation easements, and we are well on our way to increasing that number further.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the vision we share for the Western Slope. We still treasure the wildlife habitat along the Colorado River, the orchards, vineyards, irrigated farmland and ranches that sustain our local economy, and the sweeping scenic landscapes that define this beautiful region. If anything, this year has underscored how vital land conservation work remains to address the many issues we face. Increased wildfire potential, drought, volatile temperatures, and increased development pressure are all pieces of a complex puzzle that require our daily attention if we are to adequately protect what we cherish.

We have plenty to look forward to in the coming years. We don’t want to share too many spoilers before our upcoming annual report is published, but we are embracing new technologies and forming new plans that build on our past successes and keep us relevant in the community moving forward. We boast an ever-growing network of friends and partners that sustain us and keep our work relevant as we continue to work to protect land and build initiatives that include everyone in the community. We thank you for being an active member of that community, and take pride in knowing that the movement of land conservation cannot be thwarted by the various issues facing us all this year.