What is the Conservation Futures Project?

What Are the Goals and Vision?

The Conservation Futures Project is a time-bound initiative united around a common purpose:

  • To envision and launch a new, statewide coalition that has the vision, capacity and structure to most effectively guide and support Colorado's land conservation community as it evolves to meet current and future challenges. 
  • To explore and develop relevant tools for navigating our common path forward - such as a stewardship endowment calculator, a modernized valuation model for conservation easements, and collaborative model to support local land trusts. 

Why is this happening?

Why is it needed?

What issues are we trying to solve?

Protecting and stewarding Colorado's open lands for future generations involves big-picture challenges that no one organization can solve alone.

The state's nonprofit land trusts are responsible for the stewardship of nearly 80% of the 2.2 million acres of private land conserved in Colorado – so building the capacity, vibrancy, and resiliency of Colorado’s land conservation community is of vital importance to all Coloradans.

Land trusts nationwide have operated for decades with land and conservation easement acquisition as a key part of their business model – yet as daily operations shift more toward land stewardship, many land trusts are exploring new ways of doing business, fundraising, and building partnerships.

Long-term sustainability is also of primary importance, as land trusts seek to ensure their endowments are well-positioned for land stewardship in perpetuity, and resilient enough to handle risks and change.

Colorado’s land trust leaders have been exploring these and other challenges informally for the past year, through a 2017 series of five conversations sponsored by the Gates Family Foundation.

Through those conversations, a consensus emerged that a strong statewide coalition will be vital to solving critical challenges of sustainability, partnership, and leadership faced by land trusts into the future. The CFP is the next phase of this work.

Who else is involved in cfp?

what are their roles?

who is leading the project?

An ad hoc steering committee will shepherd the project. It is an organizing group, not a formal decision-making body. You can see who is on the steering committee here.

The steering committee is responsible for project logistics and helping to research, share, and gain feedback on the many alternatives that CCLT members and allies will consider in re-imagining the coalition.

The steering committee will engage the broader land trust community and allies throughout the year, to gain input on the future of the coalition (See calendar for details). Decisions will be guided by broader coalition feedback provided in group settings and via surveys.

The steering committee includes executive directors from a range of Colorado land trusts - Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust, Colorado Open Lands, Colorado West, Palmer Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Land - and leaders from Great Outdoors Colorado and Gates Family Foundation, which have supported land trust capacity building for decades. 

In addition, the CCLT and the Land Trust Alliance are strategic partners in the project. Other groups that the project will engage include COSA, CCP and others. 

Is this project replacing the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts (CCLT)? 

If not, how is CCLT involved?

No, CCLT is still operational and being run by its Board of Directors. CCLT's primary focus for 2018 is providing policy support to its members during this legislative session.

CFP is a time-bound initiative that has been formally endorsed by the CCLT Board. Members of the CCLT Board of Directors are helping to steer the project, and have been instrumental in its creation. 

CFP will be disbanded once a new model for a statewide coalition has been researched, vetted, and recommended. 




Throughout 2018, the CFP will engage land conservation partners in a number of ways:

FEBRUARY & MARCH: The steering committee will conduct national research to identify a range of statewide organizations whose models are most effective in serving their constituents and advancing common conservation goals. The CFP will publish an executive summary of these case studies, as a tool to help the Colorado land conservation community evaluate various business models and envision what’s possible.

APRIL: The CFP will conduct a Colorado Conservation Community Survey similar to the one conducted by the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts in 2017. This will allow constituents to articulate current issues and needs, and identify specific priorities for a redesigned statewide coalition.

MAY: The CFP will hold a half-day summit in Breckenridge, at the outset of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s 2018 Partners in the Outdoors conference. Summit participants will take a deeper look at various organizational models and give the CFP steering committee critical guidance on developing a business model and action plan for the new statewide coalition. 

SUMMER 2018: The CFP will host a series of regional meetings, to continue dialogue about the evolving statewide coalition and collaborative opportunities among local land trusts, and to share progress and seek input on sustainability tools being developed.

BY THE END OF 2018: The project seeks to forge a common vision and path forward for a new, statewide coalition with the structure and capacity to support Colorado’s land conservation community into the future, with a viable business model, funding commitments, and a clear set of first-year priorities.

How will the CFP engage local land trusts and allies along the way? 

What are the milestones?

We can’t do this alone. Your participation and voice are vitally important to the future success of land conservation in the state as well as the coalition.

In addition to helping to shape the direction of a new coalition, you will have access to new sustainability tools being developed through the project – such a stewardship endowment calculator, and a modernized valuation model for conservation easements.

Also, we will be exploring new models for collaboration between land trusts – which could help all of us save time and money.


Why should I be involved? 

I'm really busy - what's in it for me?

You may contact the steering committee as a whole at info@conservationfuturesproject.org.

Or (if preferred) you may contact any committee member directly.




How do I give input about the Conservation Futures Project?

The CFP steering committee will provide updates via this project website, and via a monthly email newsletter.

All CCLT members have been automatically subscribed; non-CCLT members can sign up to receive updates by entering their information into the subscribe box in the footer of this website. 




How do I stay informed?

CCLT members may contact Jordan Vana, chair of CCLT’s Policy Committee, with any thoughts or questions.  CCLT’s Policy Working Group holds regular calls each Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. If you wish to join the Policy Working Group, email Jordan at jvana@coloradoopenlands.org.




I need policy support this legislative session. Whom do I contact?

why is the cclt board itself not taking on the Conservation Futures Project Work?

The CCLT board has endorsed the Conservation Futures Project in order to provide the discipline and resources necessary to develop a stronger, more unified, and sustainable coalition.

The CFP process allows the community to tackle this incredibly important issue while allowing CCLT to focus its resources on its policy work in a particularly challenging and important legislative year.

The CFP has been endorsed by the CCLT board to drive the process by which the land trust community arrives at the best model for the future of the coalition.




How was the conservation futures project steering committee selected?

Priorities for the steering committee were to have strong representation from the CCLT board, as well as a blend of local/regional and statewide/national land trusts. It was also important to keep funders engaged in the sustainability work.

The steering committee is meant to be a nimble, ad hoc group that streamlines the preliminary exploratory phase in order for the broader community to have a robust discussion about the coalition’s future. It is not a formal decision-making body, and will present research and options to the broader group for input

To date, the Gates Family Foundation, GOCO, the Land Trust Alliance, and additional funding partners have committed to the project.





Who is funding the Conservation Futures Project?

Over the last 25 years, the Gates Family Foundation has been Colorado’s largest private match source for GOCO-funded land conservation projects, statewide. So, like the people of Colorado, the foundation has a vested interest in the long-term sustainability of Colorado land trusts.

The outcomes of the open-ended, exploratory 2017 meetings included:

  • A Colorado State University study which found that each dollar invested by the state for land conservation produced economic benefits of between $4 and $12 for Coloradans.
  • Regional meetings that allowed local land trusts to explore opportunities for collaboration around business models and programming. In 2018, the CFP will host follow-up meetings for local land trusts to continue these regional conversations.
  • Beginning to design a financial sustainability calculator tool and best practices for estimating the optimal size and overall health of stewardship endowments. In 2018, the CFP aims to share a beta version of this calculator, in order to gain feedback and improvements from land trust partners.
  • Public policy ideas to address current bottlenecks with land appraisals and tax credit decisions.

Why Did Gates host a series of meetings in 2017, and how is that related?

What were the outcomes of those meetings?

No – that was an entirely separate project shepherded by Colorado Open Lands that was designed to help Colorado’s conservation community get a better understanding of the costs and benefits associated with various types of collaboration. For additional questions about Partnering for Perpetuity please contact Jordan Vana at jvana@coloradoopenlands.org.


Does this have anything to do with Colorado Open Lands' "Partnering for Perpetuity" project?