One of the barriers to completing a conservation easement are the costs associated with completing the transaction. There are a variety of reports required to document the conservation values of the property, reports to understand the water use on the property, and reports to confirm the future likelihood of mineral development on the property. Despite the high cost of the initial transaction, it is a perpetual commitment, making these costs a worthy investment. With costs often acting as a barrier to entry, it is important for land trusts to think creatively about how we can manage the costs for landowners to ensure that a conservation outcome can be achieved.
In 2020, Keep It Colorado secured funding from Great Outdoors Colorado to help Colorado land trusts, like the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT), mitigate the transaction expenses to complete conservation projects in 2021. CCALT participated in the initial a competitive RFP process to secure grant awards and was the recipient of two grants during the spring funding round. The awarded funds will help cover the transaction costs for two conservation easement transactions that will protect approximately 893 acres of land that would otherwise be at risk of being sold, subdivided, or converted to other uses. Conservation of the Sporleder Ranch will ensure a working Centennial Ranch in Las Animas and Huerfano Counties stays intact and available for agricultural production and open space forever. Conservation of the Mt. Harris property will conserve a valuable cultural landscape and permanently protect a vital, and notably rare, segment of the Yampa River riparian corridor.
“This funding from Keep it Colorado is integral for the Sporleder Ranch project and will ensure that a combination of productive working lands and diverse wildlife habitat is perpetually conserved,” said Brendan Boepple, CCALT Conservation Manager. “We are grateful for this support to catalyze the Sporleder project, like the Mt. Harris Conservation Easement —this commitment from KIC, combined with the state’s innovative tax credit, will make conservation a reality.”
In addition to conserving land, CCALT anticipates that these projects will leverage more than $553,125 in tax credits through the state’s conservation easement tax credit program.
Melissa Daruna, Keep It Colorado’s executive director, noted “Keep It Colorado is honored to provide this financial support to the Colorado Land trust Community, enabling them to move forward with this voluntary agreement with their landowner and conserve the lands and waters that are so important to Colorado.”