Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) has a mission to conserve our land, water, and way of life in the San Luis Valley. Although 2020 has been a wild year, RiGHT partnered with several landowners to conserve their land and water in perpetuity through a conservation easement. A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement between a land owner and a land trust to protect the conservation values of the land for future generations. Each easement is individual and specific to the landowner and their future plans for their land.
RiGHT has over 45 easements that conserve wetlands, agriculture lands, and riverfront properties to help keep our river healthy. A Colorado State University study indicates that for every $1 invested in a conservation easement a public benefit of $4-$12 is realized. For example, private land conservation provides habitat for wildlife, like deer, elk, fish, and frogs. Here in the San Luis Valley conserving farms and ranches is especially important for wildlife because 90% of all our wetlands are on private land. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife around 75% of all wildlife species need wetlands and riparian areas to survive. Conserved wetlands provide sites for migrating geese, ducks, our cranes, and other migratory birds.
Conservation easements aren’t just important to wildlife, they also help farmers and ranchers continue their operations and keep their land in the family, from generation to generation. The San Luis Valley is an agricultural community and protecting our landbase is becoming increasingly important as many farms and ranches around Colorado are being bought for development and for their water.
In addition to conservation easements, RiGHT also jumped into action this spring with its new Local Farms to Local Families program. By coordinating an effort to buy local food and distribute it locally, RiGHT and generous donors supported both our agricultural producers and the broader community during trying times. Working together with The Windsor Hotel, High Valley Community Center, Valley Roots Food Hub, and the Boys and Girls Club of the San Luis Valley, this unique collaboration was able to provide healthy, local meals to Valley families in need, including many who had lost work due to COVID.
December 8th is Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide movement to celebrate our non-profits and increase philanthropy through online giving. Your support on Colorado Gives Day allows RiGHT to keep conserving valuable lands in the San Luis Valley for the benefit of both people and wildlife, as well as trying new ideas to help keep our community strong.