From the Grand Junction Free Press (Sharon Sullivan):
“We feel for our children, and our children’s children, we really don’t want this valley to be totally without fruit farms,” Guy Parker said. “We feel the ability to grow food in western Colorado is too important to leave to chance, or the economy.”
The Parkers joined three other family farms in conserving 115 acres of peach and wine grape producing lands, as part of the Land Trust’s Fruitlands Forever Initiative, which seeks to conserve a critical mass of farmland sufficient to support fruit growing into the future. The families sold their development rights, but retain ownership and may continue to live on and farm the land. They can even sell the property, although it can never be subdivided or developed.
Sons of longtime farmer Harry Talbott agreed to conserve their 37-acre Riverview Vineyard which sits atop a Colorado River bluff, and which buffers the Tillie Bishop Wildlife Area. Talbott was one of the original founders in 1980 of the Mesa County Land Conservancy, whose name later changed to Mesa Land Trust. “We were first in the United States to conserve agricultural land,” Talbott said.
Meanwhile the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust has completed a conservation easement for the Soward Ranch near the headwaters. Here’s a report from Toni Steffens-Steward writing for The Mineral County Miner. From the article:
The first easement of 580 acres on the land was through the Wetland Preserve Program and set aside much of the “moving water” on the ranch. Then they started to look at a way to preserve at least some of the lakes. After a great deal of planning and negotiations, they now have 268 acres under a conservation easement with the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust.
The project was made possible through funding through Great Outdoors Colorado, the Gates Family Foundation, The Brown Family Foundation and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and a donation from the Soward Ranch, LLC.