Protecting Land Protects Communities

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Protecting Land Protects Communities

A Letter from the President & CEO

“Let this distract you. Let it change how you think and how you see the world. . . And so, may this tragedy tear down all our faulty assumptions and give us the courage of bold new ideas.”

Aisha S. Ahmad

This quote, from an article by Aisha S. Ahmad in the Chronicle of Higher Education, was shared with me by a fellow land trust executive at the end of March 2020. At that point in time, we had no idea the magnitude of disruption, tragedy, and endurance that lay ahead of us. We thought that perhaps we had a month or two of hunkering down to weather the coronavirus storm.

As I write this nearly one year later, we are still far from the end of this global pandemic, but there is perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel. It seems to be an appropriate time for reflection. What did we learn from 2020? What is the role of the land and the great outdoors in our region? What were our faulty assumptions and what are our bold new ideas?

The last nine months have put in stark light the relationship between the great outdoors and community resiliency. As we collectively flocked outside in the darkest days of the pandemic, it became clear that being outside is not simply a hobby or luxury, it is foundational to our quality of life. We turned to the outdoors for mental and physical health, for socially distanced time with friends and loved ones, for solace and contemplation, for stress-busting cardio, and for calming meditation.

Events in 2020 also revealed the urgency of protecting and stewarding our great outdoors. As people stayed closer to home, but also got outside more, our open spaces saw an exponential increase in use. Trailheads overflowed with vehicles. Trails saw crowds not just on the weekends, but seven days a week. As we found refuge in the outdoors, we were reminded of the impacts of population growth in our region. Visitors and new residents alike are clamoring for the Colorado Good Life.

Finally, 2020 revealed that land stands at the intersection of health and wealth in southern Colorado. We need land for the quality of life as we know it. As we protect the agricultural, ecological, and recreational bounty of the land, it in turn protects us. The land supports our economy by producing our food, drawing in tourists with its awe-inspiring views, supporting outdoor recreation, and attracting industry and business to southern Colorado.

However, the land doesn’t protect itself. It needs a community of courageous land lovers like you to help conserve it forever. It is time to tear down the faulty assumptions that protecting Colorado’s great outdoors is a luxury or that we have plenty of time to make important decisions concerning the future of the land.

So what is our bold new idea?

Protecting the land protects our community.

Protecting, conserving, and stewarding our great outdoors is a catalyst for community health, wealth, and resiliency. General William J. Palmer saw the value of the land when he set eyes upon our region. He saw the bounty that the land provided, but even Palmer could never have anticipated the challenges of modern times. Today, actively protecting the land itself is crucial to our health and prosperity. Thank you for supporting Palmer and for helping to create a 21st-century vision for conservation in southern Colorado that doubles down on General Palmer’s vision 150 years ago, but also amplifies it for our times.

Be well,

Rebecca Jewett
President & CEO

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