Last week, the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts (CCLT) Board of Directors and the Conservation Futures Project (CFP) Steering Committee unanimously approved a business plan for our new coalition of land trusts and their partners, which each of you helped to design this year through the CFP. This is the final step in the CFP, which will formally wind down on December 31 to make way for the public launch of our new coalition – which we’re naming Keep It Colorado – on April 1, 2019. Until then, you’ll continue to receive legislative updates from CCLT, which will remain active on your behalf throughout the session.
As we make this transition, we wanted to pause and offer our sincere thanks for helping to make 2018 a remarkable year for the future of conservation in Colorado. Together with partners across the state, we scored major legislative victories including the reauthorization of GOCO and the creation of a new Division of Conservation. We fostered innovative regional partnerships, facilitated conversations about long-term stewardship and alternative easement valuation, and connected with colleagues at CPW and COSA’s annual conferences. And we did all this while continuing our day-to-day work with landowners to conserve the agricultural and natural lands that define our communities, and our strategic planning work to build a new, statewide coalition with the vision and capacity to guide and support us as we evolve to meet current and future challenges.
None of this would have been possible without the passion, professionalism and creativity you brought to the CFP this year. We couldn’t have done it without you, and we are grateful for your support and engaged participation over the last 12 months. From all of us on the Steering Committee, thank you.
Starting in January, a new board of directors will step in to lead CCLT as it transitions to Keep It Colorado. This board will be chaired by Rebecca Jewett (Palmer Land Trust) and include Carlos Fernandez (The Nature Conservancy), Jim Petterson (The Trust for Public Land), Tony Caligiuri (Colorado Open Lands), Rob Bleiberg (Colorado West Land Trust), and Erik Glenn (Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust). In addition, we’ll elect representatives from four other land trusts—we’ll be soliciting recommendations from CCLT members for these positions in early January. Representatives from the Land Trust Alliance and Colorado Open Space Alliance will fill the ex-officio seats starting in February. This inaugural Keep It Colorado board includes a mix of CFP Steering Committee members and new board members, which we believe will provide the right balance of continuity and fresh perspectives needed to successfully launch the coalition.
From January through March, this board will work with interim coordinator Vanda Dyson to locate the coalition’s headquarters, establish its operating and financial systems, and recruit its Executive Director. The board will continue to work with Jordan Beezley and lobbyist Benjamin Waters to achieve our community’s 2019 policy goals at the Capitol, and will elect representatives from three affiliate members next summer.
Following the coalition’s April 1 launch, the board and Executive Director will recruit the remaining staff and begin implementing programs that advance the coalition’s key priorities:
Advocating for sound public policy that supports conservation at the local, state and federal level based on our collective input and priorities;
Ensuring that we’re always up-to-speed and can weigh in on new developments through regular communications and one-day summits each spring and fall;
Galvanizing our members to address emerging issues and opportunities, including those related to training and capacity-building (which the coalition intends to deliver to members starting in 2019 through a partnership with LTA); and
Helping us connect more people to our work through strategic, coordinated public outreach.
These programs reflect the collective priorities we identified through the CFP and share three major themes that we heard repeated over the course of this year. First, we’re ready to think big when it comes to the future of conservation in Colorado. Together, we can be stronger and more effective in our work, and a reimagined coalition can provide a critical framework for bringing us together to generate more impact. Second, it’s imperative that all voices are heard. The coalition we build will only be strong if it represents conservation from every corner of the state. And finally, the success of our new coalition depends on us. All of us need to ensure that we’re dedicating time and resources necessary to help the coalition achieve the goals we’ve identified together. It only works if we’re “all in” for the long-term.
The Conservation Futures Project was made possible by the Gates Family Foundation, Great Outdoors Colorado, the Trinchera Blanca Foundation, the Terra Foundation, the Land Trust Alliance, the Colorado State Forest Service, and generous private donors. Please join us in thanking these partners for their incredible support, guidance and inspiration.
Onward to a bright future and continued success,
Tom Gougeon and Russ Schnitzer
Gates Family Foundation
Great Outdoors Colorado
Palmer Land Trust
Colorado Open Lands
Colorado West Land Trust
The Nature Conservancy
The Trust for Public Land
Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust