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For more than six years, Palmer Land Conservancy has been working with Pueblo County’s farmers, elected officials, community leaders, public utility, and various conservation stakeholders to mitigate the effects of an impending dry-up of nearly one-third of Pueblo County’s irrigated farmland on the Bessemer Ditch. What started as a small, grassroots community initiative has grown into a nationally recognized water conservation project—a project that will not only help to safeguard Pueblo County’s agricultural, economic and ecological future but will serve as a replicable model for other water-starved regions in the West.
In 2020, Palmer Land Conservancy commissioned a cutting-edge Economic Impact Analysis to quantify the economic effects of a future large-scale dry-up of Bessemer farmland. The report offers numerous policy recommendations detailing methods for mitigating the impending decline in economic output that will follow any large-scale dry-up of eastern Pueblo County—an area known for having some of the highest quality farmland in the Mountain West. The report makes a strong, data-driven case for maintaining the most productive farmland and offers solutions that allow for municipal expansion (and the necessary dry-up of farmland), but not at the expense of the agricultural sector and its positive economic ripple effects.
Images courtesy of Russ Schnitzer.