The landowner, who has asked to remain anonymous, has been working since 1979 with a land trust in each state - Utah Open Lands and Colorado's Mesa County Land Conservancy. Placing conservation easements allowed the landowner to avoid giant estate taxes. Though 4,000 acres remain unprotected, the most recent easement of 3,000 acres means none of the property in Utah can be developed. Ranching is expected to continue.
"I hope this sets a precedent for other landowners to realize conservation is just as much a property right as development," says Utah Open Lands Director Wendy Fisher.
This is Utah Open Lands' largest land preservation deal to date, she says, although it is working to preserve eight other ranches, totaling 30,000 acres. Says Fisher, "Regardless of political winds that are always changing, these landowners are volunteering their land because it makes sense economically, emotionally, and from an environmental perspective."
* Rebecca Clarren