West Slope land conservation groups merge

Two organizations have merged to continue efforts to preserve open spaces and natural resources in Western Colorado.

Rob Bleiberg

Colorado West Land Trust and Black Canyon Regional Land Trust announced the merger into a single legal entity. The Colorado West Land Trust will be headquartered in Grand Junction, but also operate an office in Montrose.

“With the economic stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, we determined that now is the time to merge the organizations, as this will enhance our sustainability and the resiliency of land conservation work on the Western Slope, said Rob Bleiberg, executive director of the Colorado West Land Trust.

The two organizations consolidated operations in 2017 to bring a more regional approach to their efforts, but remained separate corporations. Bleiberg said the arrangement not only improved efficiency, but also tested how well the organizations worked together. “Our partnership has shown that we can best serve our community by banding together.”

Colorado West Land Trust received a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado and its resilient communities program to cover the costs associated with the merger.

Bleiberg said the merger will strengthen land conservation in the region, including efforts to secure binding conservation easements with willing property owners that preclude development.

The Colorado West Land Trust operates in a region that extends from the Grand Valley south to the San Juan Mountains and Utah border east to the Blue Mesa Reservoir on the Gunnison River. That region includes all or parts of Mesa and Montrose counties as well as Delta, Gunnison, Ouray and San Miguel counties. The land trust has conserved a total of about 125,000 acres in those six counties.

Palisade-area farmers founded what was at that time the Mesa Land Trust in 1980 to preserve  agricultural lands in the Grand Valley. More than 40 family farming operations in the Palisade area since have been preserved through the trust.

The Colorado Land Trust also was involved in efforts to conserve the Three Sisters, a popular biking and hiking area near the Colorado National Monument in the Grand Valley, as well as the 680-acre Johnson Ranch on Glade Park.

For more information about the Colorado West Land Trust and its various efforts, call 263-5433 or visit the Web site at https://cowestlandtrust.org.