We recently received this message from one of our easement landowners–
Hi! I have some property in CE with you, and I thought that you might like to hear the following story.
I own the modest easement along Heinz Parkway – the Larkin property – with the house at 1250 Sunrise Lane. During the ‘90s, when Park Entrance was entering the Town and having our roads paved, the Town had approached me to ask if the undeveloped property located below my house could be used as a part of the water drainage system for upper Heinz, to better insure flood control along a rather sharp curve of the road.
Other than some excessive debris accumulation on my lower driveway, the system has worked well during the ensuing years. Obviously, recent events put it to an extreme test, and the design functioned admirably.
But here’s what absolutely amazes me: During this recent storm, there must have been a huge amount of water coming off Heinz Parkway, and running down the CE lot. Yet, at least to my eye, there is simply no erosion along the fall line. It appears that the native grasses and tree roots held the soil together.
This is in such stark contrast to the erosion along areas that have been bulldozed for roads or houses – I honestly had no idea that this relatively small bit of land, kept as Mother Nature had originally designed it, could possibly have such resiliency under such extreme circumstances.
I am not at all sure whether the property was also of help during the 6-12 fire, but the simple fact is that the south-eastern advance of the fire was finally halted, by the Type-1 Chinook, on this same easement property. I lost a couple of trees, and that was all. Had there been a house there to catch fire…well, who knows?
You may want to have a look at this land, as I believe that it argues, eloquently, for the importance of even small amounts of land remaining completely undisturbed.
If you want to use this as an example of the wisdom and importance of the work that you do, please feel free to take any photos, etc. Again, the lot being described is the one surrounding my house at 1250 Sunrise Lane, with the drainage area beginning at my driveway and running down to lower Heinz Parkway from there.
This past month has been quite a shock in so many ways. I hope that as you and your loved ones have met your personal challenges during these past weeks, you have all come through feeling safe and healthy and mountain strong!
As can be expected at such a time, our October 1 monitoring deadline came and went with quite a few reports still outstanding. I know there are a variety of reasons for this, so I am writing to each of our monitors to try to get a sense of the situation for their properties. I have been in communication with the Land Trust Accreditation Commission staff about this issue; they understand the extraordinary circumstances for the Estes Valley this year and simply recommend that we document circumstances for each easement.
Please let me know which of the following categories best fit your assigned properties.
- Some properties have been monitored and the forms are already submitted to the office…. and we are grateful.
- Some properties have been monitored but the forms have not yet been submitted. Please complete these forms ASAP. Let us know if we can assist by sending you a digital form copy or providing another paper copy for each property.
- Some properties have not been monitored, but the property is accessible and can be completed in the near future. Please let us know when you expect to complete these.
- Some properties are currently inaccessible, and probably will be for quite some time. We do NOT want any of our monitors to take ANY risks in order to monitor their properties. Do let us know if you happen to be aware of specific issues with your assigned properties. If these properties become safely accessible before the end of the year, please try to complete the task… otherwise we will wait until next year.
Of course, all of this is complicated by the current living arrangements of our monitors! Please let me know if you have properties that could be monitored but you are currently somewhere else!
Earlier this week, we sent a letter to all landowners to provide guidelines for restoration given the conservation easement restrictions.
Again, thank you for all you do for EVLT, and we wish you all the best in your recovery journey.
Estes Valley Land Trust
Dear Easement Landowner:
This letter brings heartfelt greetings from the Board and Staff of Estes Valley Land Trust. We hope that your family is safe, and that your home and property have experienced minimal damage from the heavy rains and flooding. In the past several weeks, some of our conservation easement landowners have had questions regarding allowed restoration activities on their easement properties. We think it might be helpful for many of you to share in the guidance that we have provided in response to those questions.
If your land or building exteriors suffered any significant damage during this event, please let us know. We may want to document the changes to the property, either now or on our next monitoring visit. The terms of your conservation easement typically do not require that you restore damage resulting from a natural event, but we encourage you to take such actions as are appropriate to preserve or enhance the conservation values of your treasured property.
If you, your neighbors or third parties, such as governmental entities or utility companies, need to do repairs, remodels or rebuilding of any structures, roads, or utility lines on your property, your easement normally would require that you provide the Land Trust with advance notice with drawings and a description of the work to be done. We understand that this is not practicable under these exceptional circumstances, so the Land Trust is waiving the advance notice requirement for work necessitated by damage resulting from the storm. Please, however, let us know what is done and remember that, when this work is completed, it is your responsibility to restore the natural landscape altered by this activity through rehabilitation and re-vegetation. Please DO give notice as soon as possible if any structures, roads or utility lines are to be relocated on the property.
We also want to remind you that our conservation easements typically prohibit you from excavating topsoil, rock, gravel or sand and prohibit you from permitting others from doing so. Our conservation easements also typically prohibit any alteration of streams, lakes or other bodies of water. We do not interpret these prohibitions as applying to removal of debris or materials that may have washed onto your property or restoring bodies of water to their prior condition. However, these provisions DO prohibit you and others from excavating material from an otherwise undisturbed portion of your property for use in rebuilding roads or stream banks.
If you have any questions regarding the terms of your conservation easement, please contact us. We also want to offer you whatever assistance we can provide to you. We have a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers and we also may be able to assist you in accessing sources of funding for repair and restoration work. Together, we can all get through these difficult times.
Wishing you all the best,
Mary Banken, Executive Director