Community Agriculture Alliance: CCALT doing good work for state
Community Agriculture Alliance
The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) implements conservation easement projects around the state and throughout the Yampa Valley, facilitating conservation solutions for Colorado’s landowners.
Conservation easements eliminate the development potential of property in perpetuity, giving landowners confidence that the land that they steward will retain its essential character and productivity going forward. In addition to protecting these important places, there are also financial incentives to putting land in a conservation easement.
In Colorado, these incentives include a state tax credit for up to 90% of the conservation easement’s value. In Routt County, land trusts and landowners are fortunate to be supported by the county’s Purchase of Development Rights program. When used by multiple landowners in one area, as they have been in Northwest Colorado, easements become a tool that ensures the long-term health of entire landscapes and surrounding communities.
While CCALT’s primary focus continues to be delivering conservation solutions for Colorado’s working lands, the land trust is working to expand its conservation footprint, particularly through the development of an Additive Conservation program. CCALT’s Additive Conservation program connects landowners of conserved properties with resources to enhance their properties’ conservation values.
These resources could support projects like wildfire mitigation, restoration of water infrastructure, or improving the health of riparian corridors and wet meadows. “CCALT’s Additive Conservation program is focused on collaborating with landowners to deliver projects that restore and enhance the values that define Northwest Colorado: water, wildlife and working lands,” noted Brendan Boepple, CCALT’s Director of Additive Conservation. “Investing in the restoration and enhancement of these values on permanently conserved properties builds on previous investments in conservation made by Routt County and the people of Colorado.”
The Howe Ranch, located just north of Hayden, recently finished a CCALT-supported project to replace a mile of woven wire sheep fence with new, wildlife-friendly fencing. Emily Howe explained that the fence is not just an upgrade for the Howe family and their operation: “Elk migrate through our property in both spring and fall and fences really are a barrier and significant source of injury and mortality. This new fence helps make our place friendlier for the elk, grouse, deer and other species that we share the land with.”
CCALT is already working with several landowner partners in Routt County to implement similar projects, including a wet meadow restoration project in South Routt that is slated to begin implementation in late 2023.
While CCALT’s Additive Conservation program is being developed statewide, Routt County and Northwest Colorado have been a particularly fruitful landscape for additive work. Routt County has a number of conservation partners and funding entities that are active in all forms of conservation work, including additive projects. As shown by the overwhelming support for the 2022 reauthorization of Routt County’s Purchase of Development Rights program, Routt’s general public is hugely supportive of ongoing conservation work.
Easements have been, and remain, a powerful tool for conserving Northwest Colorado’s open lands and essential character. As Routt County and the rest of Northwest Colorado move forward, CCALT is excited to see how additive conservation can allow the land trust to further contribute to the region’s environmental and cultural health.
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