The Montrose Daily Press, March 24, 2023– The Great Outdoors Colorado board awarded $87,000 to Colorado West Land Trust on Friday to develop a plan to steward its conservation easement portfolio that stretches across six Western Slope counties: Delta, Gunnison, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel.
The grant is part of Great Outdoors Colorado’s Planning and Capacity program, which invests in projects that address opportunities, explore issues, engage communities, and examine trends in the outdoors.
Great Outdoors Colorado has invested more than $8.1 million in projects in Montrose County and partnered to conserve 5,367 acres of land there. This funding has included support for the Connect Initiative Trail, Holly Park, Naturita Town Park, the conservation of Galley Ranch and Sweitzer Lake State Park.
The funding will help the land trust develop a comprehensive stewardship plan to guide its efforts for the next decade. It will address natural resource issues related to climate change, outdoor recreation, and increased development pressure.
In addition, Colorado West Land Trust will develop restoration and resiliency-building projects that engage landowners, partners, and other land trusts that hold conservation easements in the region to improve landscapes and gain insight that may be used by other organizations.
The land trust’s conservation easement portfolio includes more than 600 properties covering over 126,000 acres of land. Their service area contains diverse habitats including upland meadows, aspen forests, desert shrubland, sagebrush fields, piñon juniper woodlands, wetlands, ranchlands and orchards, and more. The land trust sees this project as an opportunity to ensure more effective restoration programs that build resilient landscapes in the region and benefit future generations.
“With the long-term drought, we are seeing an increased need to partner with landowners to provide stewardship and restoration resources such as wildfire mitigation, riparian and wet meadow habitat improvements, and soil health work,” said Ilana Moir, director of conservation at the land trust. “This grant will help us kick off this work. “
In addition to Great Outdoors Colorado, the plan is supported by the West Region Wildfire Council and local foundations. Colorado West Land Trust is also working to raise a 52% match toward the project. Residents can donate at its website, cowestlandtrust.org.Share