YMCA of the Rockies donated a conservation easement to the Estes Valley Land Trust to preserve over 127 acres of open space within the Estes Park Center. The conservation easement prohibits most development including residential structures, industrial uses and mining, among other uses that harm open space and scenic views.
The new conservation easement preserves land along State Highway 66/Tunnel Road and the Glacier Creek boundary with Rocky Mountain National Park. “One of our enduring goals, since the Estes Valley Land Trust was formed, was to preserve the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park”, said Jeffrey Boring, Executive Director of the Estes Valley Land Trust. “The conservation easement with the YMCA of the Rockies preserves nearly a mile of the Park boundary.”
The conservation easement also meets the YMCA of the Rockies plans for the Estes Park Center. “Our location is one of the very special things about YMCA of the Rockies,” said Julie Watkins, President and CEO of YMCA of the Rockies. “Protecting into perpetuity the environment, and preserving all that makes it special, is why we wanted to donate this conservation easement. Our guests can count on inspirational outdoor experiences now and into the future.”
Watkins added that this conservation easement is contiguous with four existing conservation easements, bringing the total number of protected acres within and around the YMCA of the Rockies’ property to about 238 acres.
Preserving public parks and private camps with a conservation easement is not new for the Estes Valley Land Trust. The land trust also holds conservation easements on Hermit Park Open Space and Ravencrest Chalet, a bible camp. The YMCA of the Rockies conservation easement balances open space preservation with outdoor recreation by limiting the location and type of recreation improvements that can be made on the property.
“We understand and fully support the YMCA of the Rockies’ goals to engage youth and families in an outdoor setting and we artfully built those needs into the conservation easement, without harming nature”, said Boring. The conservation easement prohibits new ball fields, tennis courts, mini-golf and other recreational uses that require changes to the topography or excavating or grading.
Benign structures related to outdoor programming, such as picnic tables, storage areas, fire pits and a ropes course are limited to a small portion of the property. “Most of the land preserved with this conservation easement is simply open space; there will never be any visible development,” said Boring.