THE BLOG
08/19/2010 03:15 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

2,800 Acres in Grand County Now Protected

GRANBY, Colo. -- If the current crop of Colorado candidates with their slash-and-burn campaign promises had been in place four years ago, nearly 2,800 acres of land owned by Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies would not be protected in perpetuity, but now it is, thanks to a new conservation easement.

The Y will continue to own the land, but it will be spared from development in perpetuity by the easement. Todd Hagenbuch, representing Senator Michael Bennet, said at the Aug. 18 dedication ceremony, "My grandfather taught me that concrete pavement is the last crop that land will ever grow."

Kent Meyer, president and CEO of the YMCA of the Rockies, said that in the 1930s, the Y had been forced to sell off some of its land in order to continue to operate. In the current economic and political climate, it is not unthinkable that this could happen again, were it not for the new protection.

Such conservation easement arrangements are complicated to negotiate and fund through various government jurisdications and non government entities. This one, facilitated by The Conservation Fund, is valued at $9.4 million and took on the order of four years to complete. Funding included $5 million from the federal Forest Legacy Program, $1 million from the state lottery-funded Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund (GOCO) and $3.4 million in value donation from the Y itself. The U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service, which now is tasked with managing the land, were also involved.

The vast acreage adjoins Snow Mountain Ranch's developed core. The family-friendly resort features lodging, dining and such rereational facilities as an indoor swimming pool, skating rink, bowling alley, riding stables, zipline, cross-country skiing center, library and more -- plus a chapel, because it is, after all, part of the Young Men's Christian Association.

In addition to Haggenbuch, dignitaries included GOCO's Matt Sugar representing Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado's Second Congressional District, who personally attended. As did other speakers, Polis praised the protection of the land, including wildlife habitat, watershed and views, and also focused on the educational opportunities provided by this large parcel, which adjoins U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.