Purchase of Development Rights advisory board presents annual report | SteamboatToday.com

Purchase of Development Rights advisory board presents annual report

Michael Schrantz

— The Purchase of Development Rights advisory board presented its annual report Tuesday to the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

The program completed two projects in 2013, conserving 357.5 acres of land worth about $3.5 million while spending $580,000 of taxpayer money.

Just more than 16 percent of the total value of the conservation easements came from the program's mill levy with the majority being donated by landowners.

On Tuesday, advisory board members showed commissioners a map of the county highlighting all the land conserved in Routt County by the PDR program and by other means.

Advisory board chairwoman Claire Sollars emphasized the continuity of the conserved acreage.

"The corridor for wildlife is just tremendous," Sollars said, adding that a corridor for vistas also is taking shape.

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Since it started in 1996, more than 32,000 acres have been preserved by the purchase of development rights program, with a total cost of $17.6 million or about $544 per acre.

The 1.5-mill levy that voters approved in 2005 now generates about $1.5 million per year for the program.

Some projects started in 2013 were not completed and rolled into 2014. Five projects now are in the works with almost

$2.5 million earmarked for them.

The advisory board stated Tuesday that it will have about $1.9 million available for the next project cycle.

Members of the board told the commissioners that they don't make an effort to hold funds in reserves, nor do they anticipate or commit tax dollars that haven't come in yet.

Funding is tighter in economic downturns, when the mill levy produces fewer dollars.

But there aren't fewer landowners coming forward and seeking to be part of the program when less funding might be available, advisory board member Ron Roundtree said.

"Ninety percent of the effort that comes from the landowners is because they want to preserve the land," Roundtree said.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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