Colorado West Land Trust Receives Grant to Remotely Monitor Properties During Time of COVID

Colorado West Land Trust has received a grant enabling it to use remote technologies, such as satellite and aerial imagery, to monitor conservation properties as an alternative to in-person monitoring. Keep It Colorado, a nonprofit coalition of conservation partners that includes Colorado West Land Trust, awarded the grant. Keep It Colorado received investments of $155,000 from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)’s Resilient Communities program and the Gates Family Foundation and re-granted the funds to 12 land trusts across the state as a safer, more efficient monitoring approach in light of COVID-19. Monitoring traditionally takes place through in-person visits with landowners on properties. Colorado West Land Trust will work alongside landowners to use satellite and aerial imagery where conservation easements are held.

The launch of Keep It Colorado’s remote monitoring grant program is a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has forced land trusts to rethink the way in which they steward conservation easements while keeping rural communities, landowners and staff safe. A survey of the coalition’s members indicated that 80 percent of land trusts ranging in size and geographic service area reported impact of COVID-19 to monitoring practices, including concern from landowners about in-person monitoring.

“Many land trusts are innovating and shifting to widespread use of satellite or aerial imagery to fulfill annual monitoring requirements efficiently and safely,” said Melissa Daruna, executive director of Keep It Colorado. “Our partners GOCO and the Gates Family Foundation stepped in and prioritized an investment when they recognized a need for immediate support.”

In receiving this grant, Colorado West Land Trust joins eight other partner land trust organizations that are part of the Keep It Colorado statewide coalition. Award recipients are:

• Aspen Valley Land Trust: Serves the Aspen Valley
• Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust: Serves regions across the state
• Colorado Open Lands: Serves regions across the state
• Eagle Valley Land Trust: Serves the Eagle Valley
• Palmer Land Trust: Serves southern Colorado
• Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust: Serves the San Luis Valley
• San Isabel Land Protection Trust: Serves southern Colorado
• The Nature Conservancy: Serves regions across the state
• West Slope Conservation Partners: Includes Crested Butte Land Trust serving the Gunnison Valley, La Plata Open Space Conservancy serving southwest Colorado, Montezuma Land Conservancy serving southwest Colorado, and Colorado West Land Trust serving western Colorado

Remote monitoring will help Colorado West Land Trust create more efficient monitoring practices and drive down costs during a time when in-person monitoring is greatly diminished. We look forward to using this technology as a way to complement our work alongside landowners to enhance land on the Western Slope.