Conservancy enters option agreement for Centerville easement; Targets 100K in community funding

PRESS RELEASE Contact: Andrew J. Mackie, Executive Director Central Colorado Conservancy PO Box 942 Salida, CO 81201 719-539-7700 office; 719-239-0281 cell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Conservancy Enters Option Agreement for Centerville Ranch Conservation Easement; Targets $100K in Community Funding by August

Upper Arkansas Valley – March 24, 2018

In a move that has been hailed as a “watershed moment” for Chaffee County, the Central Colorado Conservancy entered into a contract March 15 with Centerville Ranch developer Jeff Ince, in which roughly 70 percent – or 650 acres – of the 940-acre parcel will be preserved as working ranch land and wildlife habitat in a conservation easement.

The Conservancy now has a target of August 2019 to raise $100,000 in community funding, which will then be used to develop grants and other funding mechanisms to create $1.3 million – half of the estimated $2.6 million in the conservation easement’s development rights. Ince has agreed to donate the remaining $1.3 million. The built-out value of the land within the easement is estimated at $4 million to $5 million.

Upon the public announcement March 12, the Conservancy saw $22,000 raised for community funding within 24 hours.

“This is a tremendous level of support from our community,” said Conservancy Executive Director Andrew Mackie. “We have tried to address all the concerns raised by the public in our negotiations with the landowner/developer. I think we did a great job in creating this option agreement and setting the stage to protect 650 acres of the property.”

Located adjacent to and east of US Highway 285 south of Nathrop, Centerville Ranch quickly became a hot-button issue in Chaffee County as a preliminary sketch plan for 210 lots was found to comply with the County Land Use Codes by Chaffee County Planning and Zoning Commission in January. On March 12, the Board of County Commissioners passed a modified sketch plan of 133 lots. Citizens voiced concerns about density, water quality and quantity, a major wildlife corridor that runs through the property, and the view corridor that includes wide, irrigated meadows and a glimpse of Browns Canyon National Monument to the east. The lush fields, with some of Colorado’s highest peaks to the west, are alongside the Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway.

With the conservation easement protecting 70 percent of the property, the developer is now looking at 59 lots on the 250 acres outside the easement. In addition, the conservation easement will tie all three existing water rights to the land for the agricultural operation. Traditionally, the ranch produced hay and cattle.

The Conservancy presented the easement project to the Board of Commissioners March 19, in which Commissioner Greg Felt said, “We may look back on this and see it as one of those watershed moments in our county.”

“We took things to another level to try to ensure the destiny for this county that many of us hope for,” he continued, referring to the recent Envision process, in which 70 percent of citizens polled identified working ranch lands as a top priority for protection.

At a second meeting that day in Poncha Springs, the proposal for the easement brought applause – and donations – among a group that had concerns over the current development plan.

“Coming together as a community, we can make this a positive outcome for everyone, a win, win, win,” Mackie said. “Good for the developer, the community and the natural resources found on the ranch. This is what the Conservancy’s mission is focused on accomplishing.”

To help the Conservancy reach the necessary $100,000 to secure the Centerville Ranch easement, please send donations to Central Colorado Conservancy, PO Box 942, Salida, CO 81201; pledge via credit card online at centralcoloradoconservancy.org; or contact Andrew Mackie at [email protected] or 719-539-7700.

For more information about the Central Colorado Conservancy and how to become a member, please visit www.centralcoloradoconservancy.org or call (719) 539-7700.

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