A Conservation Legacy

By Sharon Sullivan

Ed Chamberlin grew up in San Jose, California in the middle of a cherry orchard that he walked through daily to get to school. Nowadays, when he visits the city he says you can’t find a cherry tree.

“It used to be a rich agricultural area – now it’s wall to wall development – the entire valley. It broke my heart. It was a beautiful area,” Chamberlin said. “That could happen here,” if not for the work of our local land trust, which has helped conserve more than 65,000 acres in and around Mesa County.

Chamberlin, founder of Chamberlin Architects, and his wife Barb, decided to support the things they care about, such as agricultural lands and open space, by leaving a portion of their estate to Colorado West Land Trust. The nonprofit works with farmers to ensure that property remains forever in agriculture, as open space, or as an important wildlife habitat.

When creating their will, “Barb and I agreed that we didn’t want our kids to be trust-funders,” Ed said. “We wanted them to work to earn their own way and have the confidence you derive from that.”

Both of their children are adults with careers of their own who also give their time and money to causes they believe in. Barb said she learned from her parents that “It’s important to save some, spend some and give some,” which is “part of our legacy to our kids.”

The Land Trust relies on donations from individuals and families like the Chamberlins – “people who want to see our beautiful valley retain its character,” as Ed says.

Barb, a retired nurse and teacher, also donates her time as a CWLT board member. She remembers “solid urbanization” growing up in the northeastern United States and was amazed to see the open space of the West when she moved here decades ago.

As a volunteer with Colorado West Land Trust, “I enjoy meeting the property owners,” she said. “They love their land and take impeccable care of it. They’re hardworking, honest, and friendly. It’s an honor they became my friends.”