Semotan land taken into easement

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— A Routt County ranching property will be conserved, thanks to the landowner's donation, taxpayer-approved funding and Yampa Valley Land Trust support.

Routt County Commissioners last week approved using Purchase of Development Rights funds to help buy a conservation easement on the Semotan property, which is along Routt County Road 56. The transaction closed this week.

This fall, voters approved the renewal and expansion of the county's Purchase of Development Rights program, which utilizes revenue from a 1.5-mill property tax to preserve ranchlands and natural areas.

The Semotan property, which once was part of a larger ranch, is on a 132-acre parcel of land that also is known as Long Gulch. The property primarily is made up of pastureland, and several wildlife species can be found there. The parcel also contains historic structures listed on the county's register.

The parcel was bought with PDR money, donations to the Yampa Valley Land Trust and Josephine Semotan's donation of a majority of the value of the land.

The parcel is called a conservation easement in part because it is a legal agreement between Semotan and the Yampa Valley Land Trust. Semotan will continue to own and maintain the land, but the land trust will hold it. That means that trust officials will work to ensure that the land's conservation values, such as wildlife, remain protected forever.

Semotan could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Susan Dorsey Otis, executive director of the land trust, said she appreciated Semotan's donation and the donations of others to the land trust.

"Protecting open land re----sources in the Yampa Valley and Routt County has been identified as a top priority by the community -- both residents and visitors alike," she said. "The newly closed conservation easement represents one component of a valley-wide conservation effort."

--o reach Dana Strongin call 871-4229 or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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