Two Colorado land conservation organizations merge to help conserve northern Colorado farmland | TheFencePost.com

Two Colorado land conservation organizations merge to help conserve northern Colorado farmland

Bridgett Weaver

Stan Cass wants to do what's best for Colorado's farmland, which means keeping it in the business of agriculture. That's why he and other board members at Legacy Land Trust made the decision to merge with Colorado Open Lands.

Both nonprofit organizations work to put easements on agricultural land in Colorado, and Cass said the merger will put them in a better position to do so.

Moving forward, Colorado Open Lands' northern Colorado staff will oversee Legacy's conserved properties and work with Legacy's staff and volunteers to help landowners conserve their land, according to a news release.

"Legacy Land Trust has been in business probably 12 years and we had actually concentrated on the Front Range," Cass said. "We just weren't making the inroads out on the prairie lands like Greeley like we should."

When landowners put a conservation easement on their land, it takes it off the table for development and makes it permanent ag land. This allows the farms to live on even in the face of population growth and development.

"The whole idea is conserving land for its most appropriate use — agriculture," he said. "I don't know anything that's better than that for our lands."

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Cass said together, the organizations will be able to better educate landowners on the process of conservation easements.

"It's a matter of education for one thing, and that's where Legacy Land Trust fell a little short," he said. "We weren't really getting the word out. We weren't educating people on the benefits and the advantages and why it's an important thing to do."

Together, the land conservation organizations will be able to reach their goals to conserve more farmland in northern Colorado.

Of course Cass realizes that not every piece of land can be used for ag, but he thinks it's a good idea to keep the land that yields good production sacred.

"I'm very passionate about it and that's why my family and I have been sold on it," Cass said.

Cass and his family have put more than 6,000 acres of their Briggsdale farmland into easement through Legacy.

In a place like Weld County, which relies on agriculture, it's even more important to do conservation easements, he said.

"It takes a lot of good production land to support all those things," he said of the varied agricultural production in Weld. "They require good lands to do that. They require water and conservation easements reserve both the land and the water."

Legacy has helped more than 100 landowners conserve almost 43,000 acres in Weld, Larimer, Jackson and Washington Counties.

Open Lands has helped landowners conserve 400,000 acres in Colorado. The organization has goals to conserve an additional 400,000 acres in the state by 2025.

Cass said they recognized how much more they can do by merging the two companies together.

Tony Caligiuri, Colorado Open Lands president, said in a news release that integrating the companies would best serve landowners.

"As we considered the best ways to help interested landowners conserve the region's working and natural lands in the face of unprecedented growth and development, partnering with Legacy was at the top of the list," he said in the release.

Cass agreed.

"We decided it's a match made in heaven," he said. "I think as a result of (the merger) there's going to be a big rejuvenation in conservation easements and the conserving of farm land in Weld County of Colorado Open Lands getting involved."❖

The mission

Legacy Land Trust and Colorado Open Lands will merge together for three important reasons:

• To ensure the continued stewardship of Legacy’s conserved lands in perpetuity.

• To give interested Northern Colorado landowners a trusted partner to achieve their conservation goals.

• To increase the overall pace, quality and permanence of land conservation in Northern Colorado as the region continues to grow and develop.

For more information about the merger or to get involved, visit http://www.coloradoopenlands.org.

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