Lynne Thurston Drogosz: Learn about initiative |

Lynne Thurston Drogosz: Learn about initiative

In 1983, I moved to Steamboat Springs from Massachusetts. Like many people who come to Steamboat for one or two seasons, I’m still here. The landscape that attracted me was largely one of hayfields, river corridors and large open spaces that I was unaccustomed to viewing in northwest Massachusetts.

Jeff Jones, the regional director for American Farmland Trust, stated in a recent news release that the Colorado ranchlands that attracted me to Routt County are disappearing as the result of urban sprawl. These parcels are important not only for the incredible views they offer, but they also provide vital habitat for elk, deer and many other species. In Routt County, many ranchlands exist along the Yampa River, a passageway that supports incredible bird diversity and serves as a travel corridor for the wildlife that we see almost every day.

In 1996, I joined Jamie Williams from The Nature Conservancy and many other community members to petition for passage of the Purchase of Development Rights funding. This funding was designed to protect open space, ranchlands and natural places from 35- acre development. And, it worked. To date, 7,400 Routt County acres will forever be large landscapes protected from sprawl, and the rural character that is so important to our residents and visitors will remain.

After 10 years, the PDR funding of 1 mill (or about $8 per $100,000 of home value) is about to expire. Referendum 1A, for the Preservation of Ranchlands and Natural Areas, is a measure to renew this funding at a mill rate of 1.5 or $12 per $100,000 of home value. This measure would fund the program for an additional 20 years — imagine all that could be done.

In the next 10 years, at least 2,600 new homes will be built in Routt County, perhaps more. The Ranchland and Natural Areas Program has additional work to do to preserve the scenic landscapes, waters and wildlife habitat that we have all come to expect and value.

Do your homework — read how this initiative benefits all residents of Routt County, call the County Extension Office or contact your elected officials to get more information. I hope you’ll join me in supporting this important measure.

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Lynne Thurston Drogosz

Steamboat Springs