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Protecting open space during Colorado's rapid growth

Conservation easements
Posted: 7:33 PM, Sep 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-09 22:17:26-04
Teller County side of Pikes Peak

SOUTHERN COLORADO —
"Private lands conservation is a bigger part of conservation than anyone really realizes," said Amber Shanklin with Palmer Land Trust. Development is booming in Colorado, but there are large land parcels that will remain open in perpetuity. It happens by putting in place conservation easements.

The Teller county view of Pikes Peak from highway 24 between Woodland Park and Divide is an example of conservation easements in place. A half dozen properties, around 6-thousand acres, that remain open ranchland bordered by National Forest land. It is property formerly with potential to be divided and developed. "Instead we've protected it and that backdrop to our peak, America's Mountain will always be there," said Shankin.

Some may see it as the antithesis of development. Ed Roberson, Conservation Director for Palmer Land Trust says development and conservation both have a place in rapidly growing Colorado. "I think as long as the economy is strong there's a demand for real estate development, again nothing wrong with that, but we need to approach that with a mindful and kind of a wide-angle lens." Preserving open space offers a value different than development. ”Make sure that open space, recreation, working farms and ranches are all part of that.” Conservation easements ensure the land will remain undeveloped.

Property owners who have no desire to sell, yet, face rising taxes due to increasing property values look to easements for help. It a legal agreement that keeps the land open space forever. The easements limit how the land can be used, so it lowers land value and in turn lowers the taxes. There are also tax incentives with conservation easement. For some the value of land is being able to use for agriculture production or enjoying its beauty.