Laura Anderson: Preserve lands
October 8, 2005
The citizens of Routt County have continually expressed the importance of our open lands, scenic vistas and the quality of the environment as major reasons for living in the Yampa Valley. This was reaffirmed by the recent community survey conducted by the city of Steamboat Springs. Scenic and visual quality was rated as the most important issue to voters, who also stated they would pay more for open space preservation than any other issue. Growth management also was considered a critical issue facing our community in the next five years.
Voting ‘yes’ on Referendum 1A on Nov. 1 is the most effective way to achieve these goals. In November, we will have the opportunity to continue the existing Ranchland and Natural Areas Program that helps to curb sprawl, preserve open space and protect the Yampa Valley’s special qualities. This program, also known as the Routt County Purchase of Development Rights Program, already has helped conserve more than 7,400 acres. Many of the properties conserved through this fund contain important river corridors that help protect our water quality and provide critical wildlife habitat. But there is still more to be done. Without renewal, this program will expire next year.
Ever-increasing land values make it critical that we act quickly if we want to achieve the goal repeatedly expressed in community surveys. With population growth and the trend of subdividing larger parcels, we are rapidly losing productive agricultural land, wildlife habitat and the scenic beauty that makes Routt County such a special place. I urge Routt County residents to vote ‘yes’ on 1A and continue a conservation effort that benefits us all.