May 22, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Summit County Citizens Voice "Colorado: Landscape-level preservation eyed in San Luis Valley to protect wetlands, riparian corridors & wildlife"

Bob Berwyn:
"SUMMIT COUNTY —The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking some first steps toward a large-scale preservation effort in Colorado’s San Luis Valley that could ultimately protect up to 530,000 acres of wetlands, riparian corridors, and important upland habitats through voluntary conservation easements.
The agency recently held public meetings to get input from landowners and other stakeholders in the region, helping to formulate the framework for a locally-led, voluntary, cooperative partnership that will also help preserve traditional land uses.

“This project represents another opportunity for the Service to partner with the people of the San Luis Valley to protect this important landscape for both wildlife and the people that have worked these lands for generations,” said regional USFWS director said Steve Guertin.

“By beginning our partnerships in the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains, we can determine the level of interest among landowners before exploring whether to broaden those partnerships to other partners elsewhere in the Valley.  At every step, we want to listen, learn, and do all we can to support the goals and vision of local landowners and the local community,” Guertin said.

The goal of the draft land protection plan is to work with landowners to buy perpetual conservation easements for up to 530,000 acres of land. Conservation easements maintain traditional uses and protect natural resource values, but extinguish most development rights.

Initial efforts will focus on the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where, because of the stewardship efforts of private landowners, there are opportunities to protect important wildlife migration corridors over federal, state, and private lands.  If partnerships in the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains are successful and of interest to private landowners, the Service would – at a later date – consider whether to pursue similar partnerships with private landowners in other parts of the proposed San Luis Valley Conservation Area......."  (Read more?  Click title)

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