YMCA of the Rockies Preserves 127 Acres Next to RMNP

YMCA of the Rockies Preserves 127 Acres Next to RMNP

YMCA of the Rockies donated a conservation easement to the Estes Valley Land Trust to preserve over 127 acres of open space within the Estes Park Center. The conservation easement prohibits most development including residential structures, industrial uses and mining, among other uses that harm open space and scenic views.

The new conservation easement preserves land along State Highway 66/Tunnel Road and the Glacier Creek boundary with Rocky Mountain National Park. “One of our enduring goals, since the Estes Valley Land Trust was formed, was to preserve the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park”, said Jeffrey Boring, Executive Director of the Estes Valley Land Trust. “The conservation easement with the YMCA of the Rockies preserves nearly a mile of the Park boundary.”

The conservation easement also meets the YMCA of the Rockies plans for the Estes Park Center. 

“Our location is one of the very special things about YMCA of the Rockies. Protecting into perpetuity the environment, and preserving all that makes it special, is why we wanted to donate this conservation easement. Our guests can count on inspirational outdoor experiences now and into the future.”

Julie Watkins

CEO and President, YMCA of the Rockies

Watkins added that this conservation easement is contiguous with four existing conservation easements, bringing the total number of protected acres within and around the YMCA of the Rockies’ property to about 238 acres.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preserving private youth camps with a conservation easement is not new for the Estes Valley Land Trust. The land trust also holds conservation easements on The Salvation Army’s High Peak Camp and Ravencrest Chalet. The YMCA of the Rockies conservation easement balances open space preservation with outdoor recreation by limiting the location and type of recreation improvements that can occur on the eased property.

“We understand and fully support the YMCA of the Rockies’ goals to engage youth and families in an outdoor setting and we artfully built those needs into the conservation easement, without harming nature. Most of the land preserved with this conservation easement is simply open space; there will never be any visible development.”

Jeffrey Boring

Executive Director, Estes Valley Land Trust

The conservation easement permits trails, but prohibits ball fields, tennis courts and other recreational uses that damage the environment. These kinds of recreation facilities are still allowed outside the boundaries of the conservation easement.

Your New Board Members

EVLT is very fortunate to welcome to our team four new Board members, each elected to 3-year terms, and to renew our appreciation for two returning Board members who have been elected to an additional 3-year term. Returning Directors are Art French and Charlie Johnson. Our new Directors include Gail Albers, Wanda Curry, Robin Harding, and Carly Lober. All the new and returning Board members bring depth and valuable experience to our Board, and we are pleased that they are sharing their talents and enthusiasm with us. For more information about these great people, visit “Meet Our Board and Staff.”

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO “RE-GREEN” THE ESTES VALLEY

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO “RE-GREEN” THE ESTES VALLEY

As recovery from the devastating 2013 floods progresses across the Estes Valley, EVLT is continuing to provide restoration assistance to flood-damaged lands.  We need your help!

We are recruiting volunteers to assist with our Great Outdoors Colorado-supported flood recovery efforts.  Volunteer opportunities include planting native grass and wildflower seeds, planting trees, installing erosion control blankets, and removing flood debris.  Projects will begin in earnest in April and continue through the early summer.  Some fall workdays may also be planned.

If you would like to help “re-green” the Estes Valley by kick-starting ecosystem function and natural beauty on critically-damaged lands, please visit the Contact Us page on our website.

We’ll notify you prior to each workday and you can decide then whether you can help.  Most workdays last about 4 hours.  Tasty snacks are provided.  All ages and abilities welcome!

A NEW COLLABORATION: EVLT AND THE ESTES VALLEY WATERSHED COALITION

A NEW COLLABORATION: EVLT AND THE ESTES VALLEY WATERSHED COALITION

For the past eighteen months Estes Valley Land Trust has played a significant role in assisting the Estes Valley in its ongoing recovery from the devastating September 2013 floods. EVLT acquired grant funding to provide owners of flood-damaged properties with native seeds and trees. EVLT organized volunteer workdays for flood debris removal and revegetation projects. Also EVLT has contributed to the River Resiliency Master Planning process for Fish Creek and Fall River since it began in early 2014.

 

Now, recognizing the need to continue its efforts to support flood recovery and river sustainability, EVLT has been assisting with the formation of a new non-profit Estes Valley Watershed Coalition (EVWC), and has agreed to serve as the Fiscal Sponsor for the organization.  In addition, EVLT will be participating on EVWC’s Advisory Group, which is made up of stakeholder organizations within the Estes Valley.

 

What Is the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition?

EVWC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “promote an ecologically healthy watershed that also seeks to maximize public benefits and minimize public risk, through community engagement and sound science.” It is comprised of citizens of the Estes Valley serving voluntarily to support a safe and environmentally sound watershed for the community.

During the post-flood River Resiliency Master Planning process for Fish Creek and Fall River, two River Advisory Committees were formed to give citizen input to the process. As the master planning process wound down, these two groups joined with parties representing the Upper Big Thompson River and Black Canyon Creek, forming EVWC to begin the implementation process for the Master Plans and to secure funding for projects necessary to maintain all four river corridors in a healthy and safe condition for people and wildlife into the future.

 

EVWC’s Board of Directors includes two representatives each from the four stream corridors (Fall River, Fish Creek, Upper Big Thompson, and Black Canyon) as well as three at-large members.

 

Why Was EVWC Formed?

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) has been a primary impetus for the formation of this new organization in the Estes Valley as well as comparable watershed organizations throughout the flood-impacted Front Range area. The CWCB and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs are encouraging the development of these coalitions as a mechanism for distributing funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program.

 

How Will Funding Be Used?

Initial grant funding for these coalitions will be in the form of capacity grants to support paid staff positions for the coalitions and planning grants to help determine the most effective way to prioritize and begin implementation projects from the Master Plans. These planning grants are a necessary pre-curser to implementation projects, as they will bring together landowners and other stakeholders to assure full understandings of the plans and alternatives for a project area. Landowner consensus is required before implementation funding can be obtained.

 

Future grant opportunities from federal and state sources as well as from private foundations and donors will be pursued by EVWC to fund planning, design, and construction of watershed resiliency projects.

 

Why Is a Fiscal Sponsor Needed?

There are several reasons for the need for a Fiscal Sponsor. First, organizational approval for tax-exempt status by the IRS is a lengthy process. Tax-exempt status is a requirement of many grant applications. By aligning with a non-profit Fiscal Sponsor, EVWC can take advantage of diverse fundraising opportunities and avoid project funding delays.

 

Also, having a Fiscal Sponsor to handle EVWC’s back-office operations enables the Coalition Board and Staff to focus their time and energy on the work of project planning and implementation. Similarly, this allows the Coalition to hire a Watershed Coordinator whose skills can be specific to river resiliency rather than accounting and administrative functions.

 

What Is Estes Valley Land Trust’s Role as Fiscal Sponsor?

EVLT will provide administrative and financial services to the Coalition, including accepting grant and donor funding on behalf of the Coalition, while leaving all programmatic control in the hands of the EVWC directors. The Land Trust will receive a nominal fee from EVWC for its services as Fiscal Sponsor.

 

What Is Estes Valley Land Trust’s Role on the Advisory Group?

The Advisory Group, which is currently being formed, will include potential stakeholders for many of the projects, including representatives from the Town, the Sanitation Districts, the Recreation and Parks District, the Land Trust, and similar organizations. In this role, EVLT will advise the Coalition on the use of conservation easements as a tool to protect stream corridors, open space, and riparian wildlife habitat while benefiting the property owners.

 

What Are the Next Steps?

The search for a Watershed Coordinator by the EVWC Board of Directors is currently underway. For the near future, the Coordinator will share space in the Estes Valley Land Trust offices. This will aid in effectively establishing the various, and often separate, administrative, financial, and operational functions while decreasing overhead costs to EVWC.

 

How Can I Stay Informed about EVWC’s Projects?

A website and social media presence will be established and more information will be distributed through various media outlets. Coalition meetings are held every other Wednesday evening at the Estes Valley Library. The meeting schedule will be on the Coalition website or at http://estesvalleylibrary.evanced.info/signup/eventcalendar.aspx. Anyone interested in supporting the activities of the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition is welcome to attend.

 

GOCO awards $25,000 grant to EVLT to extend riparian restoration efforts

GOCO awards $25,000 grant to EVLT to extend riparian restoration efforts

EVLT-Aug-29-650x431Estes Valley Land Trust is delighted to announce that the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board has awarded the land trust a $25,000 grant as a part of their Riparian Restoration Initiative.  The stated goal of GOCO’s Riparian Restoration Initiative is to “provide meaningful opportunities for youth and volunteers to improve and restore rivers, streams, and connected wetlands that occur on publicly and privately protected open space properties.”  Estes Valley Land Trust’s post-flood restoration work aligns well with GOCO priorities and EVLT’s efforts to restore private properties protected by conservation easements will now be extended through 2015.

EVLT, in collaboration with the Town of Estes Park, will plant native, woody vegetation and seed with native grasses and wetlands species on over 135 acres of flood-damaged riparian lands, including along Fish Creek, Fall River, Black Canyon Creek, the East Fork of Fish Creek, and the North Fork of the Big Thompson River.  The goal is to restore habitat for wildlife and reduce erosion and run-off of sediment. Land trust volunteers and students from Eagle Rock School will be engaged in the work.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created by voters in 1992, GOCO has funded more than 3,500 projects in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. The grants are funded by GOCO’s share of Colorado Lottery revenues, which are divided between GOCO, CPW, the Conservation Trust Fund and school construction. For more information, visit goco.org.

Although the GOCO grant applies only to properties protected by a conservation easement, EVLT still has funding available for Fall 2014 re-vegetation open to the wider community.

If you are interested in volunteering with Estes Valley Land Trust, please contact us or email evlt@evlandtrust.org.

 

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