Needed: Flood Restoration Volunteers

Needed: Flood Restoration Volunteers


The effects of the September floods will undoubtedly be felt for years to come here in the Estes Valley.  Because we have such a fantastic network of committed members and volunteers, EVLT is in a unique position to help rebuild the community following such a widespread disaster.  We have received a $35,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado to purchase plant materials such as native seed mixes and willows to assist with restoration, and we are coordinating volunteer efforts to do the restoration projects.  We are also pursuing further funding to help the wider community.

EVLT is coordinating volunteer work days through the spring and summer.  We are asking YOU to join us in restoring our treasured open space and our community!  The work will be outdoors and will involve debris cleanup, silt removal, reseeding, and replanting vegetation.

Please respond to us by email, phone, or the website contact form ( to be put on our volunteer list!  By having your name on the list, you’ll hear about all of the volunteer days we schedule and you are welcome to join us whenever possible.

Our next volunteer opportunity is Saturday, March 22nd.  We will be assisting with cleanup in Glen Haven, which desperately needs help!  Please let us know if you are interested in joining us on this date, as well as if you are interested in future flood recovery volunteer opportunities.  We will meet at the EVLT offices at 9:00 am and will be back to Estes Park by 1:00 pm.

The scheduled volunteer days are:

  • March 22nd
  • April 12th
  • April 23rd

Thank you!!

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Estes Valley Earns Continued National Recognition

Estes Valley Earns Continued National Recognition

A celebration is underway at Estes Valley Land Trust! Your local land trust was recently awarded renewed land trust accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. The official announcement was received on February 26th.

“This achievement demonstrates EVLT’s commitment to permanent land conservation and the rigorous accreditation renewal process,” said Mary Banken, Executive Director. “Our staff members, land owners, volunteers and Board have worked vigorously to uphold the ever-increasing high standards of the Land Trust Alliance. We are proud to achieve reaccreditation, making us a stronger organization to benefit the entire community.”

acc seal2EVLT was nationally accredited in 2008 as one of a prestigious first group of 39 to be awarded this designation. Re-accreditation in February means EVLT is among the first 16 land trusts to achieve renewal. Accredited land trusts are authorized to display a seal indicating to the public that they meet national standards for excellence, uphold the public trust and ensure that conservation efforts are permanent. The seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation.

Founded 27 years ago, EVLT now administers the stewardship responsibilities of 159 conservation easements (nearly 9,600 acres) in the Estes Valley and surrounding area. In spite of a September flood of epic proportions which affected many properties, EVLT completed its renewal application in December 2013. Working with over 100 volunteer monitors and numerous conservation-minded landowners, EVLT continues to engage citizen conservation leaders and improve systems for ensuring that conservation work is both permanent and beneficial.

“EVLT is an important member of the 254 accredited land trusts that protect more than half of the 20,645,165 acres currently owned in fee or protected by conservation easement held by a land trust,” said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn. “Accreditation renewal, which must be completed every five years, provides the public with an assurance that accredited land trusts continue to meet exceedingly high standards for quality.”

According to the Land Trust Alliance, each land trust that achieved renewed accreditation submitted extensive documentation and underwent a rigorous review to verify that their operations continue to be effective, strategic and in accordance with strict requirements.

According to the Land Trust Alliance, over 1,700 land trusts now operate across the country to save places that people love. In addition to health and food benefits, conserving land increases property values, saves tax dollars by encouraging more efficient development, and, in the Estes Valley, draws tourists to view the scenic beauty and wildlife. Over 47 million acres of farms, forests, and parks are now protected as conserved land.

Strong, well-managed land trusts provide local communities with effective champions and caretakers of their critical land resources, to be safeguarded through the generations. EVLT is proud to be an accredited member of the Land Trust Alliance and will work in the future to maintain the required high standards.

Please visit EVLT’s website at to learn more about our mission and share your questions and concerns. We welcome your membership and your participation in accomplishing our goals.

An EVLT Perspective on Lot 4

An EVLT Perspective on Lot 4

From Estes Valley Land Trust Board of Directors


The concept of a “conservation easement” is in the news as Estes Park citizens discuss the various merits of preserving open space through this legal agreement which is both voluntary and permanent. What a conservation easement is, how it is accomplished, and what its long-term obligations are should be part of this conversation.

EVLT is a nationally accredited land trust (one of a prestigious first group of 39 out of over 1,500 to be awarded this designation in 2008) that administers the stewardship responsibilities of 159 conservation easements (9,600 acres) in the Estes Valley. EVLT is not a government agency, but instead is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.


StanleyProperty3Three of EVLT’s conserved parcels are in front of the Stanley Hotel – see the lots colored in purple on the accompanying map. Under the town leadership of Mayor Bill Pinkham, these lots were placed under permanent conservation easements in a legal agreement with the Town of Estes Park in November 2008. As part of the process, EVLT thoroughly documented the conservation values of these properties, including the viewshed toward the Stanley Hotel (Lots 5 and 6) and the wetland area on Black Canyon Creek (Lot 8). Lot 4 (behind Safeway/Upper Stanley Village) remained zoned as commercial property.

By definition, a Conservation Easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust. It preserves in perpetuity the conservation values of the land. It is the responsibility of the land trust to evaluate the conservation values of the property. Before the easement is put in place, EVLT and the landowner agree to limits on the uses of the property. Once in place, any future owner must abide by the limitations of use created by the easement, and the land trust assumes the responsibility of enforcement should conservation values be violated.

When a land trust is approached by a landowner concerning the possibility of placing a conservation easement on property, the land trust conducts an extensive evaluation of the conservation merits of the property. Not every vacant property meets the requirements of a conservation easement.  EVLT has developed a ranking system to assist in this process.  Each property is subjectively evaluated based on the following nationally recognized standards:

  • Open space in the entryway into Estes Park, RMNP, or Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest
  • Valuable to community for scenic character
  • Protects scenic vistas or view corridors
  • Creates larger block of contiguous open space
  • Valued as wetland, floodplain, or riparian area
  • Valued as wildlife habitat
  • Contains native ecosystems of educational or scientific value
  • (and some additional credit is given for properties of historical or recreational value)

Credit is deducted for properties that are small (under five acres) or contiguous with commercial development or properties that demonstrate hazardous issues. Additional deduction of credit is done if the evaluation anticipates difficulty in accessing, enforcing, monitoring, or other issues of stewardship or management. Deductions are also made if the ownership of the property is divided, difficult, fragmented, or inaccessible.

In initial meetings with the landowner, EVLT explains the financial obligations of the owner if the conservation easement is finalized. Current costs for a new easement generally range from $10,000 to $20,000 and involve contribution to a stewardship investment fund to pay for future monitoring and enforcement of the easement. Once the owner decides to proceed with a conservation easement, EVLT evaluates the property’s conservation values. The owner specifies any uses they wish to retain, and EVLT determines whether those uses jeopardize the conservation values.

EVLT has not done a formal evaluation of Lot 4 as a potential conservation easement because the owner (the Town of Estes Park) has not requested it. The language of the April 1 ballot issue suggests possible use of Lot 4 for public recreational use, trails, hiking, biking, horseback riding, tables and shelters. On a parcel of 6.88 acres, further clarification of these uses (while preserving conservation values) would need careful specification before EVLT could proceed.

A request has been made that EVLT publically state whether or not the organization could accept a conservation easement on Lot 4. Although EVLT realizes this would be helpful to voters, it is impossible for EVLT to make such a declaration prior to clear negotiations with the owner.

EVLT’s Directors have consistently maintained they would consider taking a conservation easement on Lot 4 if the owner requests it, but that will only be a first step (out of 22) toward completion. At this point, it is impossible for the Board to state whether or not it would accept the conservation easement.

“Preserving open spaces for future generations” is the mission of EVLT. That mission is achieved by protecting those easements already in place and working toward adding new easements which meet high standards of conservation value. There are no perfectly clear or easy answers in the Lot 4 discussions. As stated in our mission statement, EVLT is an advocate for protection of the lands that are “valleys, wetlands, streams, ranch lands, and wildlife habitat in the Estes Valley and surrounding area” and “lands adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park and the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest.” That is our mission, and although it is not simple, it is also our passion.

Please visit EVLT’s website at to learn more about our mission and share your questions and concerns. We welcome your membership and your participation in accomplishing our goals.

Good News for Flood Recovery

Good News for Flood Recovery

The vast impacts of the recent floods will surely be felt by all of us for years to come.  In light of our mission to “preserve and protect open space, valleys, wetlands, streams, ranch lands, and wildlife habitat in the Estes Valley and surrounding area…,” here at EVLT we know that now is a critical time to do what we can to help our landowners and the broader community along the road to recovery.

We are thrilled to announce that EVLT has received a $35,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado to provide assistance to our landowners for short-term flood recovery needs.  We are grateful to the Community Foundation for this opportunity to help steward and restore the land we are bound to protect.

This support will be available first to our conservation easement landowners who were affected by the flood.  If there is funding left over, we will extend our assistance to the wider community.  In addition, the grant has opened important doors for collaboration with other community organizations working on flood recovery.

Specifically, the grant money will be used for purchasing plant material to help re-vegetate areas affected by the flood.  By doing this we hope to:

  • Prevent the aggressive spread of noxious weeds
  • Prevent further erosion
  • Re-establish native plant ground cover.

For properties that have suffered flood damage, we intend to provide plant materials, including

  • High-altitude native grass and forb seed mixtures
  • Temporary ground cover species, such as sterile wheatgrass
  • Cuttings and containerized plants, such as willows, blue spruce, and other riparian woody vegetation.

We are also putting together volunteer crews to assist with debris clean-up and planting the seeds and plants purchased through the grant.  We need your help!  Please contact EVLT ( if you are interested in volunteering in our flood recovery efforts.  Thank you!

Welcome Erica Goad!

Welcome Erica Goad!

Estes Valley Land Trust (EVLT) is pleased to welcome Erica Goad as the organization’s first full-time Stewardship Coordinator. She began her position on Monday, December 2nd, and she has a very busy agenda ahead.

When EVLT accepts the donation of a conservation easement on a property, it makes a commitment to ensure that the property will be sustained forever in the manner specified by the terms of the Deed of Conservation Easement. Reporting to Executive Director Mary Banken, Erica’s primary responsibilities will be the execution and oversight of all the activities required to meet these land stewardship obligations. 3a Erica

Her tasks will include working with 100 volunteer monitors to ensure the completion of annual monitoring, including developing and maintaining baseline documentation and recording the basic parameter and conservation values of 160 properties. She will be working with landowners of the conserved properties in order to accomplish preservation, and she will provide supporting documentation and tracking for all cases of easement violations, reserved rights reviews, and amendment requests that are under consideration.

Erica comes to EVLT with an impressive educational background and applicable work experience. She completed extensive coursework in Namibia, Africa, graduating cum laude from Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, with an undergraduate degree in Biology and Environmental Studies. She received a Master’s degree in Ecology from Colorado State University in August 2013. Most recently she was a Conservation Coordinator for the Colorado office of The Nature Conservancy, responsible for easement monitoring site visits. Erica’s experience also includes work and research in environmental conservation, wildlife research, renewable electricity standards, mountain pine beetle research, riparian restoration, and climate study. She held a year-long position in the National Park Service, was a Colorado Truman Scholar, and has extensive mapping and documentation experience with GPS and GIS systems technology.

In Erica’s own words, she is attracted to the Stewardship Coordinator position at EVLT because, “I am committed to conservation in Colorado and see particular value in promoting private land conservation efforts, since private lands are often the most biologically productive landscapes and are crucial for promoting regional biodiversity and connectivity.”

Erica values working together with people to protect the remaining wild and open landscapes in Colorado. She is a resident of Estes Park and is personally involved in conserving landscapes adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park and preserving natural heritage in this community.

As we welcome Erica to the EVLT team, please stop by the office and personally introduce yourself. She is eager to meet you, and you will enjoy getting to know her.