Susan Dorsey Otis, Executive Director and the YVLT Board of Directors: Vote yes on 1A

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Vote yes on 1A

Yampa Valley Land Trust, a local, nonprofit land-conservation organization, appreciates the positive views the Steamboat Pilot and Today have of our accomplishments as expressed in its recent commentary. However, we must clarify that YVLT and the Routt County Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program work together while serving two separate purposes. It is critical to pass Referendum 1A to continue this partnership.

Yampa Valley Land Trust works diligently to meet the community priority of protecting beautiful scenic vistas, important wildlife habitat and working agricultural lands. YVLT advances this mission by working with willing landowners to conserve their land, generally through the use of conservation easements. Although the majority of conservation easements are donated to YVLT, not all landowners are in the position to make that generous gift entirely as a donation. In certain cases, YVLT works to write grants that raise significant funds enabling YVLT to undertake a "part-purchase/part-donation" of conservation easements from the landowners. The Routt County PDR Program is a key funding source for the acquisition of these conservation easements.

Grants that YVLT prepares for the acquisition of conservation easements are also submitted to entities such as Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCo) and/or the Natural Resources Conservation Services Farmland and Ranchland Protection Program (NRCS). These entities, along with PDR and others, are critical sources for the funds necessary to purchase easements. Additionally, it is important to funders such as GOCo to see local community cash -- such as funding from PDR -- also going into the land-conservation projects GOCo funds. It is not unusual to see PDR, GOCo and NRCS participating together as funders on a single YVLT land-conservation project. This includes YVLT's land conservation projects that were a part of the GOCo-funded Yampa River System Legacy Project, an extremely large grant made by GOCo to the many partners working throughout the Yampa Valley on land conservation and public recreation.

The funders (PDR, GOCo and NRCS) that provide the dollars to YVLT for the purchase of the easement do not provide support for YVLT's overhead and operation -- which includes the expenses related to writing grants, working with landowners and facilitating transactions. Like many nonprofit organizations, YVLT relies on annual contributions from the community and its supporters to assist with the day-to-day business of accomplishing our mission of land conservation. Like any business, YVLT, as a nonprofit business, has to cover costs of overhead and operations, which include staff, computers, insurance, telephone and office supplies.

In summary, achieving land conservation for our community requires support from multiple entities: (1) The community that provides annual support to YVLT, which allows us to continue working on our land-conservation mission; (2) The land-conservation organization -- in this case Yampa Valley Land Trust -- that works with landowners to research, negotiate, facilitate and, in some cases, write grants for land-conservation transactions; (3) The funders -- including Routt County PDR -- that provide significant dollars for the conservation easements that are acquired; and, most important, (4) The generous landowners with the desire to conserve their properties -- through donated or purchased conservation easement transactions.

The existing Routt County PDR tax, which is critical to current and future land conservation efforts, does not generate enough revenue to meet the conservation demand. The Yampa Valley's open land resources that we most value and cherish are, unfortunately, rapidly disappearing right before our eyes. The time is now, the need is immediate, and the benefits are a legacy for this and future generations. Vote yes to preserve the beautiful Yampa Valley. Vote yes to renew and expand the Routt County PDR Program. Vote yes on Referendum 1A.

For Yampa Valley Land Trust

Susan Dorsey Otis, Executive Director and the YVLT Board of Directors: Linda Hamlin, John Sherrill, Russ Atha, Bill Baldwin, Gary Cogswell, Medora Fralick, Kathe McCoy and Todd Hagenbauch

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