Middle Park Land Trust focuses on preserving land along river corridors | SkyHiNews.com

Middle Park Land Trust focuses on preserving land along river corridors

To continue its preservation goals throughout the county, the Middle Park Land Trust has started a program that focuses on area rivers.

“It’s the land-based side of water quality and quantity,” said Adam Cwiklin of the local nonprofit Trust dedicated to working with landowners to conserve agricultural lands and open spaces.

“The rivers are our identity and are some of our greatest resources in the county,” he said.

“The river corridors, ecologically, are the most productive land there is, probably 100 times more productive than a lodgepole forest.”

Working hand-in-hand with private landowners, the Trust hopes to preserve lands that include river ways, a mile on each side, where mixed riparian shrubs and forests, upland sage, irrigated meadows and associated wetlands naturally thrive.

Doing so, according to the Trust, can help protect water quality, maintain forest bio-diversity, protect scenic viewsheds and travel corridors, and help restore rivers in poor health.

“It’s our travel corridors; it’s scenic; it’s our identity; it’s tourism… it’s everything,” Cwiklin said about Grand County’s river ways. “And socially, it’s the Colorado River corridor: Everything is tagged ‘Grand river’ this, ‘Grand river’ that, ‘Fraser’ Library, ‘Fraser’ town. It becomes a social identity, and obviously, it’s economic.”

The Trust, with an office in Granby, is dedicated to providing landowner education and assistance on conservation easements.

Willing landowners who value conservation are able to realize significant estate and income tax benefits for qualified conservation contributions due to their public benefit to clean water, clean air and wildlife.

Land under such easements, which are maintained in perpetuity, may still be mortgaged, sold or passed on to one’s heirs.

Using a point system, the Trust has a list of criteria it uses to identify qualified lands for the program, such as the number of acres, its proximity to major roads, its potential for development, and its habitat, water, agricultural and scenic values.

Land in trust can be preserved as open space, scenic land, agricultural land or natural habitat.

“It allows someone who has a conservation goal, who is land rich and money poor, to move forward,” Cwiklin said.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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