State of the Land Trust, 2021 in Review
2021 was a successful year for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) in delivering on its charge to keep Colorado’s farms and ranches in operation and to keep working lands in the hands of Colorado farm and ranch families. Below is an overview of CCALT’s work in 2021 and a look ahead at what is in store for 2022.
CCALT worked with our landowner partners to complete 19 conservation easements, helping landowners achieve their personal conservation and estate planning goals and conserving more than 32,670 acres of working farm and ranch land.
Notably, in March, CCALT worked with a Meeker family to conserve their ranch which is located along the White River west of town. This easement not only achieved broad conservation goals but provided an opportunity for members of the family to return home and contribute to regional economic development with the establishment of Meeker’s first brewery. In August, CCALT worked with a mother-daughter team who ranch in Park County to conserve 700 acres along Michigan Creek. The conservation easement enabled the purchase of winter rangeland in Eastern Colorado, dramatically improving the viability of the family’s agricultural operation. Rounding out the year, in December, CCALT conserved the historic K Ranch in Moffat County. The K Ranch consists of more than 14,000 acres of grazing lands in Western Colorado. Projects closed in 2021 bring CCALT’s total acres conserved to more than 705,000! This is a testament to the conservation ethic of CCA members and Colorado’s farm and ranch families.
Additionally, CCALT launched the Additive Conservation Program, designed to provide additional conservation services to landowners who have partnered with CCALT on easements in the past. Two pilot projects are underway. The first project is a wetland mitigation bank that will restore 20,000 linear feet of stream bank along the Purgatoire River in Las Animas County, and the second is a fuels reduction and habitat enhancement project bordering forest service lands in Routt County.
CCALT was instrumental in achieving a major legislative victory in June with the passage of HB1233. This legislation adjusted the Colorado conservation easement tax credit formula upwards, allowing landowners to claim up to 90% of the value of their conservation easement in the form of transferrable state tax credits. It was the first major overhaul of the formula since 2007. More importantly, the legislation makes conservation more accessible to landowners across the state. Partners at Keep it Colorado and CCA played an integral role in getting this legislation across the finish line.
CCALT is actively working with more than 30 families on conservation projects statewide and we continue work to advance legislative changes that will improve conservation for farm and ranch families. This year we hope to finalize the development of an alternative methodology for valuing conservation easements, a long-standing goal of the CCA membership and CCALT.