The Campaign to Preserve Centerville Ranch reached a fundraising milestone Aug. 1, in which community donors exceeded the initial $100,000 goal toward $1.3 million, according to a joint press release issued Monday by the Campaign to Preserve Centerville Ranch and Central Colorado Conservancy.
With this all-important first step completed, Central Colorado Conservancy can move into the second phase of funding to secure a conservation easement for 650 acres of the property, which is just south of Nathrop on the east side of U.S. 285, the release said.
The community-raised donations are a critical piece of the strategy, as many organizations that fund projects such as Centerville Ranch require a local funding commitment from individuals and businesses that establishes the validity of the project.
The support shown by the community has been unprecedented, according to Cindy Williams, board chair for the Conservancy.
“I am inspired by the people in Chaffee County and the action they are taking to maintain the special quality of life that residents and visitors savor. Citizens are supporting a plan that protects iconic views and supports working agriculture and allows growth.
“Chaffee County is a special place,” she continued. “We are the community that can say now THIS is Colorado,” and the community that acts together to make that true for generations to follow. I have not heard of any community rising to this level of action – it is amazing. Thank you to all of our generous donors – you are heroes.”
The Conservancy is now working diligently to leverage the community dollars by 10:1 or more, with multiple grant requests that compete for statewide funds. Continued donations from individuals, families and businesses remain an important piece of the equation.
Centerville Ranch was the center of public concern in early 2019, when developer Jeff Ince announced plans for a subdivision that contained more than 200 homes.
Central Colorado Conservancy worked with Ince to establish plans for a conservation easement on roughly 70 percent of the property, allowing for a much smaller housing component.
While the developer agreed to donate roughly half the value of the development and other rights, the Conservancy is now in the process of raising $1.3 million.
The property is considered an important component of Chaffee County’s ranch landscape, hosting a view corridor that stretches from U.S. 285 on the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway, across green hay meadows to Browns Canyon National Monument and the Arkansas River.
It contains a wetland with multiple springs that provide critical wildlife habitat, and the land is part of regional deer and elk migration corridors.
The conservation easement, once established, will forever protect the 650 acres and support local agriculture by maintaining 400 acres of irrigated hay meadows.
As well, it will keep the ranch’s three water rights intact so that local waters remain on local lands.
“Throughout the Envision process, this community has been clear that keeping our beautiful rural agricultural lands and our special sense of place is a priority,” Williams said.
“A priority for residents, a priority for visitors and a priority for our economic sustainability. Citizens supported this with their votes in passing the 1A ballot measures. They are now supporting it even more ‘vocally’ with generous contributions of their personal funds that will help the Conservancy pull additional grant funding into Chaffee from statewide sources. It is inspiring and it is critical as we work together to maintain what is special here.”
For information on the Campaign to Preserve Centerville Ranch and to make donations, visit www.centralcoloradoconservancy.org.
For more information about the Central Colorado Conservancy and how to become a member, please visit www.centralcoloradoconservancy.org or call 719-539-7700.