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(IN) MESA LAND (WE) TRUST

By Nic.Korte

The beginning of a year has everyone considering the future. Buddhism teaches there is only one thing we can rely on—change. Change can be difficult. It is especially difficult for wildlife when change is too rapid for species to adapt or so drastic that they cannot survive. That’s why preserving land for wildlife is essential.

In a recent blog, I discussed how Townsend’s Solitaires are doing well—in part, because their habitat is almost exclusively western and semi-high or high in the mountains (http://www.gjsentinel.com/blogs/birds_and_more/entry/solitary-for-thanksgiving).  This land is owned by the public and sufficiently preserved (for now) to allow them to thrive. Many species, however, require private land because that is mostly where they live. Private lands also provide essential habitat for migration. Smaller areas, even if insufficient size for breeding, are important because they can provide links between large territories so that genetic diversity can be maintained.

 (A Bald Eagle fledged last summer from this private-land nest-site conserved by the Mesa Land Trust.) 

We have recently completed the Audubon Christmas count in the Grand Valley. The bulk of the birds counted were non-native: Starlings, Eurasian Collared-Doves and House Sparrows. Where did we find the bulk of our native species? Along the mostly privately-owned washes and ditches. (http://www.gjsentinel.com/blogs/birds_and_more/entry/awash-in-habitat-sources-and-sinks)

One of the best means for preserving low-elevation, private land is through conservation easements. It is not an accident that groups that perform this activity are often called “trusts.” 

Trust can mean “faith, belief, hope, conviction, but it can also mean “care, protection, and responsibility”—and also a “consortium, a group or organization.” For a Land Trust, all of the definitions may apply. Why preserve land unless there is belief and hope in the future? Preserving land from development certainly means caring, protecting and being responsible for it. Finally, the word trust, refers to those people who are doing the actual work. 

Here in Western Colorado, landowners who wish to see their land preserved for historic uses and for wildlife, rely mostly on the Mesa Land Trust. Founded in 1982, the Land Trust holds over 200 conservation easements protecting over 64,000 acres in the Grand Valley, Glade Park, and Plateau Valley as well as Montrose and Delta Counties. Protected properties include orchards, vineyards, cropland, working ranches, and much vital habitat for wildlife. The federally “threatened” Gunnison Sage Grouse is the marquee species benefiting from the work of the Mesa Land Trust, but the reality is, the species that most benefits is man.

(Riverside wetlands and cottonwood gallery forest, such as this preserved by the Mesa Land Trust, are essential for much of Colorado’s wildlife.)

[If you are not a donor or member of the Mesa Land Trust, you should be. You can donate and join through their website: mesalandtrust.org ]

This post provided by Nic Korte, Grand Valley Audubon Society. Send questions/comments to audubongv@gmail.com. [To learn more and to participate in the activities of Grand Valley Audubon, please see our website at audubongv.org and “like” us on Facebook!]
 

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