City a semifinalist in grants contest

JFK School of Government recognizes Legacy Ranch

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— When they're talking about you at Harvard, you know you're doing something right.

The city of Steamboat Springs was recently named a semifinalist in a grants contest administered by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for the work the city and a number of public and private organizations did to preserve the Legacy Ranch.

The city submitted the application for the contest and as project manager was the group named, but city officials made it clear that the honor needs to be spread out to the various organizations that made the project happen.

"One of the important aspects of the success of legacy is its foundation is built on partnerships: community, county, city, ranching, land trust, state and even some federal involvement. These types of partnerships are easy to talk about but very difficult to forge and keep together," said City Council President Kevin Bennett.

The Legacy Ranch was created through a collaborative effort by a number of public and private entities, including the city, Routt County, Great Outdoors Colorado, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks, Yampa Valley Land Trust, Humble Ranch, Wolf Run Ranch and the Orton Foundation.

The combined entities were able to preserve 4,000 acres of ranch land and open space.

The Yampa River Legacy Project project was dedicated by Gov. Bill Owens last September on a sunny day as eagles soared overhead.

The property extends from the river bottom where the hay meadow borders the Yampa River for 1.5 miles to the top of the aspen and spruce forests of Emerald Mountain.

About 25 percent of the land is held by public agencies, while 75 percent is in the hands of private owners.

The private land is preserved with conservation easements and recreation leases, which allow ranching activities to continue.

The city is planning on building a system of trails through the land that will connect to Howelsen Hill.

Steamboat was picked as one of 99 semifinalists out of more than 1,300 applicants for the Innovations in American Government Awards.

Fifteen finalists will be named in September and will go to Washington, D.C., to present their projects.

The five winners will each receive $100,000. The remaining 10 finalists will each receive $20,000.

The program is funded by the Ford Foundation and has been running for 15 years.

The projects cover a wide spectrum, from recycling programs to programs that provide health care for the rural poor to teacher training programs.

The semifinalists include 16 federal groups, 40 state organizations, 19 cities and towns, 12 counties, seven school districts, three government corporations, and two tribal governments.

Intergovernmental Services Director Linda Kakela said she was delighted that the hard work on a project that was about three years and almost $10 million in the making was being recognized.

"The city and all our partners on the Yampa River Legacy Project are thrilled and honored to be a semifinalist for the Innovations in American Government Award.

The Kennedy School and the Ford Foundation are certainly the premier agencies in the country if not in the world in terms of the kind of work that we do, which is local government visioning and working together with public and private partners," Kakela said.

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