OPINION | Land matters: Protect our natural resources and vote yes on Grand County Ballot Issue 1A
Colorado Headwaters Land Trust
About a dozen of the 130 nonprofits in Grand County address conservation, recreation and the environment. This includes Headwaters Trails Alliance, the Grand County Wildfire Council, Colorado Headwaters Land Trust, and other organizations all strongly identified with Grand County and the goals of its community.
These groups perform “community conservation,” or grassroots efforts to conserve and steward local environments. Local communities are in the best position to know what processes and projects might work in the long run. Supporting community conservation ensures the sustainability and viability of the community and its values around the natural environment.
Grand County is unique in many ways, starting with how we interact with the natural world. From ranching to recreation, there are many ways to love what we have in this county.
Land use differs from the Fraser Valley to the three lakes to the Gore. The ways land is used often depends on the land in question. Some parts of the county are better managed under hoof and horn, and others might be best left wild. Land use can mean agriculture, wildlife habitat or recreation, and all these uses are under threat of unnecessary development and fragmentation.
As we know from 2020, catastrophic wildfires also endanger our open lands, towns and everybody in Grand County. Fire might be natural to the Western landscape, but fires like the East Troublesome aren’t natural. By acting preemptively to prevent destruction and mitigate damage from wildfires with local resources and support, we can save ourselves money, time and resources.
We all benefit greatly from these open spaces and working lands, giving us the vistas and natural resources that make where we live so grand.
Our county is also connected by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Each town has its own relationship with the Headwaters and works hard to sustain their piece of the water system not only for recreation and agriculture, but also for the health of the natural communities. No matter how it’s used, we can’t live without water and must defend this vital resource.
On land, each community has their preferred sport. Some trails are more for mountain biking and others for four-wheeling; some for snowshoeing and others for snowmobiling – not to mention the trails around the ski resort, through the national park, and along the rivers through town. On thousands of miles of trail throughout Grand County, the local economy thrives with the activities both locals and visitors alike love to do outdoors.
Grand County has a history of caring for its natural resources and continues to have a responsibility and an economic need to contribute to community conservation. When voters approved the Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails measure in 2016, they committed resources to this task. Protecting our open spaces, our trails, and our waters is a unifying mission for everyone in Grand County. I hope it will continue to be a priority for all of us in the county this November. A yes vote will renew the .3% sales tax to fund Open, Lands, River and Trails Program, and a no vote will sunset the sales tax.
Jeremy D. Krones is the executive director of Colorado Headwaters Land Trust. The land trust’s mission is to conserve and steward the open lands and natural character of the headwaters of the Colorado River in partnership with the local community, and works with private landowners throughout Grand County to conserve their land in perpetuity. To learn more, please call (970) 887-1177 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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