40 Stories in 40 Weeks: A North Fork Memorial to Land and People (2003 Reprint)

Mesa Land Trust and the Mesa County Community Separator Area project are happy to announce the recent completion of their sixth conservation easement in the Grand Valley’s buffer zones.

In July, Betty Cordova placed a conservation easement covering her beautiful 39-acre farm on J Road in the Fruita Community Separator. The Cordova farm is currently planted in corn and is located adjacent to two other already-protected properties in the Fruita buffer zone, the Dixie Williams Ranch and the Basher horse farm. Approximately 1½ miles of high-quality agricultural land and wildlife and riparian habitat along Hunter Wash between K and I ½ Roads is now permanently protected for future generations. Mrs. Cordova is rightfully proud of both her property and her choice to preserve it.

The conservation easement was appraised at $300,000 and was purchased for a bargain sale price of $165,000. The landowner will also be able to benefit from Colorado State Tax Credits to gain additional income from the donated portion of this transaction. Funds for this purchase of development rights came from the partners in the Community Separator Area project (Mesa County, Grand Junction, Fruita, and Palisade) and a $116,000 Open Space grant awarded to Mesa County by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).

The Community Separator Area project is an innovative public/private partnership that seeks to protect lands that serve as buffer zones between growing municipalities in the Grand Valley. The project gives willing landowners a viable alternative to selling their property for development to help preserve agriculture, community character and quality of life.

Mesa Land Trust would like to thank Betty Cordova for her vision and generosity, and GOCO and our project partners for their ongoing support.

2020 Update: A few years after Betty partnered with the Land Trust to conserve her land, her nephew and his wife, Ken and Nancy Watkins, moved to Fruita to help take care of her. On October 13, 2013, Betty passed away, leaving behind a rich history of life in the Grand Valley that is held in the hearts of all who knew her.

Ken shared with us that he and Nancy feel blessed to have had that time with Betty, and that her love of the land rubbed off on them in the process. When the family considered putting the property on the market in 2017, Ken and Nancy purchased it, which Ken explained would not have been affordable were it not for the conservation easement. They consider it a privilege to maintain the property in accordance with Betty’s wishes, and want to honor her by keeping it as productive ag land. They currently have alfalfa planted on the property, and look forward to many years of fruitful life on the property conserved by Betty.