Land Trust seeks funding for 780-acre open space easement in Granby
The Town of Granby and Colorado Headwaters Land Trust are working on a conservation easement north of the Sun Outdoors Rocky Mountains development at the intersection of U.S. highways 34 and 40 in Grand County and say more fundraising is needed to accomplish the conservation project.
The parcel of land is called the Granby Highlands-Trails Conservation Easement. Colorado Headwaters Land Trust Executive Director Jeremy Krones said there are no easements like it, either in size or scope, in Grand County and that it will conserve 780 acres of open space in a rapidly-developing area.
“Conserving the property to remove the threat of development is the first step,” said Krones. “Once conserved, the property will be split into a 480-acre public park with miles of summer recreational trails and other low-impact amenities, and a 300-acre no-access zone for wildlife.”
Sprawling development, like that in Grand County, causes fragmentation of the landscape that disrupts the migration patterns and habitat areas for all of our wildlife, including moose, elk, deer, antelope, birds, predators and many more, Krones added.
“While many conservation projects benefit a wide range of people and resources, this project will benefit everyone: human and wildlife, residents and visitors, locals and everyone along the 1,400-mile path of the Colorado River,” he said.
The land trust and Town of Granby entered into an agreement to permanently protect the land last February; then Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Headwaters Trails Alliance came on.
“From early conversations, (the alliance) and (Parks and Wildlife) have been at the table to discuss the most effective ways to construct trails and wildlife areas to ensure everyone wins,” said Krones. “Headwaters Trails Alliance is a great friend and partner of the land trust, and we are so thankful for their enthusiasm behind this project. The trails to be built will follow some of the highest standards of trail construction and maintenance, and fit into (the alliance’s) master plan of connecting the towns of Grand County by trail. Many folks believe conservation and recreation don’t, or can’t, intersect, but they do and we are all better for it.”
Parks and Wildlife staff helped identify the easement that will benefit both wildlife and humans. The wildlife zone sits at the northern end of the property, bordering ranches and public land. It creates space for wildlife to migrate from one end of the county to the other. To further protect Grand County’s wildlife, the entire easement will also include a winter closure.
The project has received grants from Parks and Wildlife, and Grand County’s Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails Fund, but another $350,000 is needed to make it a reality. The money will go toward transferring the development and subdivision rights of the property to the land trust, which will hold those rights in perpetuity for the benefit of the town, the public, wildlife and the Colorado River.
“This project is a long time coming,” said Krones. “We’ve hit some bumps on the road, but as plans continue to come together, we feel this is going to be a shining star for all of Grand County. This land will be dedicated to recreation, wildlife, water, and the beauty of open space.”
Krones said he hopes that in time, other municipalities will follow suit to support conservation and recreation in their communities. “If you want a part to play in achieving this collaborative goal, we welcome your support and enthusiasm,” he said.
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