The Routt County Commissioners voted to approve funding applications for five conservation easements on July 27, through the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) secured $2.8M to complete conservation easements on more than 8,400 acres of working lands in Routt County.
In the early 1990s, many residents grew concerned for the future of Routt County and what could happen if growth were to go unchecked. In 1996, with a desire to secure the future of the region’s open space and agriculture-based economy, voters approved the creation of the Routt County Purchase Development Rights (PDR) Program. In 2005, Routt County voted to renew the PDR Program through 2025. The PDR Program is a land protection tool in which a property’s development rights are purchased from the landowner(s). By purchasing the development rights, Routt County is able to protect certain resources in perpetuity, such as open space, wildlife habitat, agricultural use, scenic vistas, historic landmarks, and more. Funding for the Program is derived from a 1.5 mill on County property tax.
Since its inception, the PDR Program has played a critical role in the completion of 65 conservation easements, conserving more than 60,000 acres throughout the County. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) and the Yampa Valley Conservation Partnership have completed 50 conservation easement projects with support from the PDR Program.
“Local funding sources, like the Routt County PDR program, are an incredible asset to the community. The Routt County PDR program has a huge impact on the regional landscape by supporting projects that are important to the community. The program allows landowners and land trusts to leverage the state tax credit program along with other funding sources to accomplish conservation outcomes that benefit the community as a whole” said Molly Fales, Director of Transactions at CCALT.
The PDR Program is overseen by a Citizen’s Advisory Board, which is appointed by the Routt County Board of Commissioners. The PDR Board reviews applications for funding, conducts visits to each of the potential conservation projects, and makes recommendations to the County Commissioners. This year, CCALT applied for funding to conserve five ranches, contributing more than 8,400 acres of working lands to the growing conserved landscape of Routt County.
If you live in Routt County, or are here as a visitor, you have seen and experienced firsthand the value these conserved lands provide. To say that the PDR Program has made an impact on our community would be an understatement. Land conservation keeps rural and agricultural traditions alive, fosters healthy communities, stimulates local economies, and conserves diverse landscapes. The PDR Program is essential to conserving the working lands and open spaces of Routt County, not to mention the scenic, recreational, and environmental benefits that these lands support.