In 1992, a small group of forward-thinking citizens rallied around the idea that Larimer County needed a private land protection organization to add balance to imminent development pressures.
What started as seven people and $55, concerned with one county, has grown to a non-profit membership organization of more than 600 people with a budget of over $313,000, a staff of four to five depending on the season, covering a 6,000 square mile region of three scenic and vibrant northern Colorado counties (Larimer, Jackson, and Weld).
Together these three counties support a large agricultural base, complemented by significant high technology and manufacturing sectors, as well as a solid recreational industry.
Larimer Land Trust
The group originally called itself Larimer Land Trust (for Larimer County). A few years later the citizens of Larimer County passed an open space sales tax that would launch one of the most successful public open lands efforts along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. As Larimer Land Trust, we were often confused with Larimer County Open Lands. Although we were very separate groups pursuing separate goals, collaboration together was healthy and consistent. At the same time, the Land Trust was receiving requests from landowners in neighboring Jackson County to protect their land, and it was desirable and logical to extend our service area to the northwest.
In order to eliminate confusion with the County open space program, and honor the new regional approach the Land Trust was taking, the name was changed to Legacy Land Trust in 2001. Soon after, we began our land protection efforts in the neighboring county to the east, Weld County, and a three county conservation service region with ecological integrity was delineated.
Serving Colorado Lands
From the high meadows and alpine elevations of North Park in Jackson County, through the foothills of Larimer County, sweeping out onto the plains and short grass prairie of Weld County, our chosen landscape possesses great species variety, geographic diversity, and other natural features that lend completeness to our task in biological terms.
In cultural terms, we discovered that there is indeed a web of connectedness of the people as well. Ranchers in Weld County often have complimentary summer ranches in Jackson, and folks from Greeley recreate in Larimer County. We find that the ranching community is a small world, even when spread out over 6,000 square miles.
As the Front Range grows and local produce becomes a subject of wider discussion, we’re finding a more pressing need to work with the agricultural community. Small farmers have been great stewards of the land for generations and Legacy Land Trust is working with them to insure farming traditions for years to come. This will yield a myriad of benefits to the greater community—healthy food, open spaces, unique wildlife habitat.
Our journey has been successful, whether you measure in terms of acres protected, or our impact on community awareness of the specialness of where we live and the importance of being involved in its protection. Through the end of 2011, Legacy Land Trust has conserved well over 41, 000 acres in 116 projects—everything from a 13,000 acre working cattle ranch in the Chalk Bluffs of Weld County to a 27 acre urban meadow and woodlot in west Fort Collins. This includes participation in the Mountains to Plains partnership, a cooperative effort among numerous conservation entities to create a protected corridor from National Forest lands in the mountains to the open eastern prairie.
Environmental Stewardship Award
In 2008, Legacy Land Trust received the Environmental Stewardship Award from the Larimer County Commissioners and has held countless outreach sessions with civic and citizen groups, schools and universities, and individuals to increase awareness of the many public benefits of privately conserved lands.
Even though we have many accomplishments and have conserved many special places, we feel our real work is just beginning. With your help, and that of our 600 members, we can fulfill our dream of protecting 150,000 acres of spectacular landscapes of northern Colorado that will enrich, inspire, and nurture generations to come.