Elbert County Commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of executing a letter of support for the Douglas Land Conservancy's “Vision for Open Space in Elbert County,” a grant application to study opportunities for open space within the county.
The DLC …
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The DLC is seeking a $50,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to identify and map potential habitat and wildlife corridors threatened by development in Elbert County. The study, as proposed, would also identify other funding sources and partners for open space programs.
“Open space has always been a factor in economic development,” Kyle Fenner, director of Elbert County's Community & Development Services, said at the Board of County Commissioners' meeting June 25. “Studies show that it has a positive economic development component to it.”
In a July 1 letter of support issued on behalf of the BOCC by District 2 Commissioner Kurt Schlegel, the commissioners acknowledged the county's lack of financial resources to perform this type of study on its own. The letter also recognized the need for a shift to a proactive position on development and recognized the importance of open space while affirming the rights of property owners.
Issuing the letter of support neither obligates the county financially nor commits it to a specific plan, but it does open a dialogue with the DLC as well as takes a step toward a possible collaboration hoped for by Fenner.
Commissioner Larry Ross, who cast the dissenting vote, said that he saw value in the idea but preferred to postpone support until he had the opportunity to become more familiar with the issue. Commissioner Robert Rowland voted in favor.
Patti Hostetler, executive director of DLC, likens the present development in Elbert County to levels in Douglas County during the early 1990s and is interested in establishing sustainable easements before expansion in the county makes it too late.
Participation in any conservation program by landowners is voluntarily, and land must meet specific qualifications with multiple conservation values to qualify such as wet lands, migration routes or community buffers. Owners who donate land for conservation programs may also be eligible for state and federal tax breaks.
The DLC is a nonprofit and nonpartisan land trust located in Castle Rock, emphasizing a regional approach to land conservation. Though originally founded in 1987 to develop open space and conservation easements in Douglas County, the conservancy has expanded its operations beyond the borders of Douglas County and currently preserves over 22,038 acres in Douglas, Jefferson and Elbert Counties.
The DLC manages two easements in Elbert County and is a certified land trust in the Colorado as well as accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
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