Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust chooses Steamboat for 1st satellite office

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— The Arvada-based Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust has responded to the growing number of conservation easements it holds and monitors in Northwest Colorado by opening its first satellite office in Steamboat Springs.

Executive Director Chris West said the recent marriage of CCALT staffer Megan Manner to South Routt rancher Tyler Knott was a contributing factor in the decision to open an office here.

“We decided to add to Routt County’s ranching population by one,” West said. “Megan’s an integral part of our operation, and we didn’t want to lose her just because she was moving to Routt County. And right now, half our work is in Northwest Colorado, obviously centered in Routt County, but there is quite a bit going on in Rio Blanco and Jackson counties, too.”

Manner is stewardship director of the CCALT. The group's development and communications director, Alyssa Street, said Routt County is the assigned territory of CCALT's director of conservation transactions, Carolyn Aspelin. But Manner will staff the Steamboat office in the Old Pilot Building full time, and other staffers will use it during visits to the region.

CCALT has worked closely in recent years with the board of directors of Routt County’s Purchase of Development Rights program to negotiate conservation easements that protect ranchlands from development in perpetuity.

In December 2010, the Routt County commissioners approved dedicating $3 million in PDR monies to contracts to conserve six parcels from North Rout to the Flat Tops Wilderness Area comprising 5,255 acres. And more have followed since.

The PDR program is funded by a 1.5-mill property tax reapproved by the voters in 2006, nine years after the program originally was approved for a 10-year period. The 2006 renewal is good for 20 years.

The PDR process works by providing voter-approved tax dollars as an incentive to landowners, often ranch families, to enter into a conservation easement that sets the land aside from development. The property owners donate a substantial portion of the value of the easement as determined by an appraisal.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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