Steamboat-based land trust adds recreation to conservation values | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat-based land trust adds recreation to conservation values

A conservation easement finalized by the Yampa Valley Land Trust in 2017 will help to protect sage grouse habitat on a historic South Routt Ranch.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With Wendy Reynolds, a veteran of federal public lands management, in place as its new executive director, the Yampa Valley Land Trust is preparing to embark on a new era when it intends to place increased emphasis on creating recreational opportunities while conserving the landscapes of Northwest Colorado.

"Allowing recreational components is becoming more important in easements – river access, fishing, hunting – we want to be in that game," Reynolds said.

As the Yampa Valley Land Trust celebrates its 25th year, it also has a new slogan to signify its approach to  its work: "Open Lands Forever – Together."

Reynolds said the Land Trust currently manages conservation easements with recreational components on the flank of Howelsen Hill and Emerald Mountain on the edge of Steamboat Springs. The land trust also holds easements that provide floating put-ins on the Yampa River.

"There is a big difference," Reynolds said, "between conservation and preservation."

For example, she said, "You really can't preserve water, but you can conserve water."

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Conservation implies protection of working ranch lands, wildlife habitat, open space, views and recreational opportunities, she said.

Conservation allows for changes (in management strategies) over time, Reynolds added.

"Our mission needs to be nimble and adaptable to change," she explained.

Reynolds reports to a board of directors that includes board president Bruce Allbright, vice-president/treasurer Paul Hoffmann, director and secretary Adonna Allen and director Robert King. Staff members include finance director Christine Hands and conservation associates Ryan Gelling and Bryce Hinchman.

Reynolds, who succeeds former longtime YVLT executive Susan Dorsey, worked as a planner for the U.S. Forest Service for a dozen years, eight of them in Steamboat Springs. But she also had a long career with the Bureau of Land Management, beginning in 2002 with the Little Snake Field Office in Craig. She worked as a planning and environmental coordinator in the Yampa Valley before moving on to Idaho where she became the field manager of BLM's Upper Snake Field Office.

Reynolds returned to Northwest Colorado in 2010 to succeed John Husband as field manager of the Little Snake office and finished her career with governmental land management agencies in that role.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

Challenge grant holds great promise for land trust

In recognition of the Yampa Valley Land Trust’s 25th year of conserving  land in Northwest Colorado, two anonymous donors  are offering a generous dollar-for-dollar matching contribution for any donations $100 and greater, up to a total of $50,000 by year-end 2017, and a second $50,000 matching contribution by year-end 2018.

The land trust is one of many local nonprofits  participating in Colorado Gives/Yampa Valley Gives Day on Dec. 5.

To date, the land trust has conserved 56,130 acres of land through implementation of 77 conservation easements.