Mesa Land Trust’s ambitious undertaking to protect fruit and wine lands in the east end of the Grand Valley — and thereby ensure a minimum number of acres for a stable local fruit industry — deserves to, well, blossom.
Other than the mountains and canyons that surround us, there are few things as iconic to the Grand Valley as its fruit industry. Furthermore, it has been an economic mainstay for more than a century, providing a stable industry through multiple energy booms and busts and global financial crises.
The more recent development of a local wine industry has added to that stability. Both draw thousands of tourists to this area.
Mesa Land Trust met with area fruit growers, wine makers and others to get a sense of how much of a land base is required to ensure there is sufficient fruit production for local packing sheds and grapes for local wineries. They arrived at 1,000 acres as the minimum figure necessary.
The Land Trust, in cooperation with area landowners, has already protected about 700 acres of east valley fruitlands from development through conservation easements. The organization set a goal of preserving an additional 500 acres in its Fruitlands Forever program.
It obtained nearly $4 million in grants from Great Outdoors Colorado, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Services, the Gates Family and Goodwin Foundations.
This week, the Land Trust announced it had secured conservation easements on four parcels of land in the east valley totalling 115 acres — the first step toward meeting that goal of 500 acres.
Congratulations to Mesa Land Trust and all of the landowners who are participating — essentially donating the development rights to their property in exchange for tax breaks and the knowledge that their land will be available for agricultural endeavors for generations to come.
We hope Mesa Land Trust’s latest effort continues to bear fruit.