Landowners Embrace Conservation as Financial Boon, Family Legacy — Public News Service

The future site of Steamboat Lake is shown here in 1949. The barn pictured was owned by the Wheeler family, one of several families who ranched the land before it was bought by brothers John and Stanton Fetcher. John Fetcher proposed the construction of Steamboat Lake, which was built in 1967 and funded by the operators of Hayden power station and the Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. Photo via Bill Fetcher and Aspen Journalism

Click the link to read the article on the Public News Service website (Eric Galatas). Here’s an excerpt:

Landowners in Colorado could play a major role in President Joe Biden’s efforts to conserve 30% of the nation’s undeveloped lands by 2030, and make money at the same time.

Jay Fetcher’s family has been ranching cattle since 1994. He said when his family looked into the idea of a conservation easement for their property near Steamboat Springs, his father was immediately sold.

He did not want to see the land developed for the service industry; he wanted it to remain land that produced food…

The family’s decision to conserve the land for ranching caught on, and led to Fetcher founding the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust…

Conservation efforts also are seen as critical for protecting clean-water supplies, especially during times of severe drought. Melissa Daruna, executive director of the group Keep it Colorado, said some strategies already under way could provide a path for communities across the West.

The May Ranch near Lamar, Colo., has never been plowed. Photo/Ducks Unlimited via The Mountain Town News

She pointed to local stakeholders on the Eastern Plains outside Pueblo who are taking the lead to reckon with current and future impacts of a warming climate…

In 2008, lawmakers allowed the donated value of the land set aside for conservation to be considered a state tax credit which can be resold to Colorado taxpayers with outstanding tax burdens.

“So all of a sudden, I do an easement, I can sell the value of that easement to a Colorado taxpayer,” said Fetcher. “And I get a check in my pocket. You know, we’re not going to develop the land anyway, but all of a sudden I get paid for not doing it.”

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