This article is re-posted from the Conservation Futures Project. Original post: January 22, 2019.
Since 1965, land trusts and their partners have helped Colorado families conserve over 3 million acres of working lands, wildlife habitat and open spaces that define our state and contribute to our quality of life. This work is voluntary, collaborative, nonpartisan and local. It respects private property rights and makes a positive difference in communities across the state.
Private land conservation in Colorado has grown significantly since its inception. In response to increased interest in, and demand for, land conservation across the state, the number of land trusts has increased from fewer than 10 in the 1980s to more than 30 today. The state’s conserved acreage has tripled since 2005 alone, thanks in large part to the creation of Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and the state conservation easement tax credit, which together have invested over $1 billion in conservation to date. Colorado now ranks 4th in the nation for conserved private lands, behind only Maine, California and Montana.
Private land conservation preserves the best of Colorado for future generations and provides real financial benefits to the public that drive state and local economies. According to recent reports from Colorado State University, every dollar invested in conservation through GOCO and the conservation easement tax credit returns between $4 and $12 in public benefits to the people of Colorado. And every dollar invested through Federal Farm Bill conservation programs generates $2+ of economic activity that is associated with 1,100 Colorado jobs, creates $86 million in value-added, and is particularly impactful for rural communities.
Interest in private land conservation remains stronger than ever. Many land trusts now have waiting lists for new projects, which underscores the urgency of their work as Colorado looks to accommodate 3 million new residents in the next 30 years.