Green Corner: Colorado Headwaters Land Trust |

Green Corner: Colorado Headwaters Land Trust

Annablue Drexler-Dreis.
Courtesy Photo |

Colorado Headwaters Land Trust (CHLT) is a 501(c)(3) land conservation nonprofit with the mission to preserve and steward open lands within the headwaters of the Colorado River for vistas, wildlife, agriculture and water, in partnership with landowners and for the benefit of all.

The magnificent Colorado River—the lifeline of the southwest—begins its 1,450-mile journey in Rocky Mountain National Park in Grand County. Several of the river’s headwater tributaries, including the Fraser River, also begin in the county and flow into the Colorado River before the Colorado flows out of the county. These rivers and the landscapes they have created are struggling to retain their valuable natural attributes: scenic open space, wetlands, vital water rights, working ranches, critical cold-water aquatic habitat and world class rafting and fly fishing. These are the lands CHLT is working to protect.

CHLT protects land with conservation easements, a voluntary legal document between the landowner and the land trust that identifies the conservation values of a property and permanently protects those values by restricting development, subdivision, and other non-compatible uses. CHLT monitors and enforces the perpetual agreement but the land and water remain in private ownership.

The land trust was established in 1995. In 2013 the name changed from Middle Park Land Trust to Colorado Headwaters Land Trust to better reflect the fact that the Colorado River begins in Grand County, and that CHLT is protecting your headwater landscapes. CHLT, the only land trust servicing Grand County, is a state-certified and nationally accredited land trust currently holding 61 conservation easements protecting over 8,000 acres.

CHLT is focused on two priority projects: the Fraser River Initiative and the Colorado River Initiative. Project goals are to 1) increase awareness of the importance of these landscapes; 2) strengthen support for conservation of land and water along these rivers; 3) work with landowners to protect qualified land along these rivers with conservation easements; and 4) collaborate with other organizations to increase conservation success.

The Colorado River Initiative focuses on the protection of Grand County’s Colorado River landscapes. The primary goal is to acquire purchased or donated conservation easements that encumber both land and water rights—thus forever tying the water rights to the land—to ensure these spectacular Colorado River landscapes endure. In 2013, in partnership with The Conservation Fund, CHLT acquired a purchased conservation easement on the 662-acre McElroy Ranch along Muddy Creek and 2.5 miles of the Colorado River. In 2016, CHLT will acquire another purchased easement in the Colorado River corridor and is actively working on the purchase or donation of similar easements in the Colorado and Fraser River landscapes.

To learn more about what we do and to become a supporter of our cause, please call the office at 970-887-1177 or visit our website: Make sure to Save the Date for July 10 and attend our annual event along the Colorado River at Winding River Ranch in Grand Lake.

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