CCALT’S 20 Year Anniversary – Written By Chris West

A Note from the Executive Director

Conservation has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. After graduating from college, I moved to Colorado, and by the time I had my first introduction to CCALT in 1997 I knew I wanted to be involved in land conservation in the west. Over the years, I have come to know the ranchers, the landscapes, and the staff at CCALT as we have grown from a grassroots concept into a dynamic conservation organization.

Thinking about the 20 year anniversary for CCALT puts everything we have done in perspective. The impact we have had on Colorado totals more than 450,000 acres and over 240 ranching families. We have protected vital heritage, fostered healthy communities, and provided trusted experience to Colorado ranchers. Our efforts, while directly affecting the ranching families we work with have also preserved the Colorado that many other families in the state have come to know and love. We have become one of the leading agricultural land trusts in the nation, and it is important to reflect on how far we have come, and the influence we have had.

With that perspective in mind, I can’t help but feel that our work is going to be even more important in the coming years. These landscapes and this way of life may be timeless, but that does not guarantee their continued existence. By 2030 there will be 2 million more people joining us here in Colorado, pushing our population to more than 7 million. These newcomers will be specifically seeking our open spaces, clean water, and outdoor way of life — the same things that drew many of us here, or have kept those of us here who are fortunate to be native Coloradans. This means that the next 20 years are a pivotal time for Colorado and for our ranching heritage. As these dramatic changes sweep across the state and reshape our urban and rural areas alike, they put our state’s wild open spaces and rugged natural beauty at risk. They threaten the very essence of what Colorado is, and what CCALT was created to protect. This means that the mission our founders established in 1995 has never been more important.

The new look you see on our website and in our newsletter is a direct result of CCALT rising to this call to action. Colorado’s clean air, clean water and healthy lifestyle depend on stewardship of our remaining agricultural lands. The board and staff members of CCALT recognize that in order to continue our work, we need to be even more effective in the next 20 years to ensure that the Colorado we have then is one that we are proud to live in. We have created Forever Colorado to be our focus as we move into the next 20 years of land conservation, with the mission of protecting the Colorado way of life, forever.

For those of you who have been with us since the beginning, thank you for your continued support; you make our work possible and we are happy to share this milestone with you. For those of you just getting to know us, join us on this journey; we welcome you and encourage you to work with us to preserve your Colorado.


Chris West
Executive Director, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust