The Gazette, Around Town – Land trust saving Colorado land and ranches for the future
They’re saving the land and the ranches for the generations still to come.
That said, the Palmer Land Trust celebrated the best in Southern Colorado land conservation with a farm-to-table Callicrate beef dinner Sept. 28 at Cheyenne Mountain Resort. In the evening’s video, former Sen. Ken Salazar quoted a Native American proverb: “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”
Land Trust board member Jody McCoy addressed a festive like-minded audience, “I believe conservation is pivotal to our lifestyle in Colorado.”
Delighting the 325 guests were tuxedo-clad students from Galileo School of Math and Science, whose classy attire had been provided by a donor. Their Galileo Garden Project received the Environmental Stewardship Award accepted by Gregory Abukar-Duru, Kaydence Stephenson and Jeremiah Hawthorne. Science teacher and urban farmer Christine Faith-Gleason described the students converting more than 24,500 square feet of dusty, barren tennis courts into a full organic ecosystem with fresh produce that goes to School District 11 lunchrooms, school families and a farmers market at the nearby Colorado Springs Senior Center, where students talk to customers to explain their vegetables and how they grew. Some produce was available at Ranch Foods Direct on summer Friday afternoons. More than 1,700 pounds of produce was harvested this, the second season.
The Rocky Ford Grower’s Association and Hirakata Farms were honored for their innovative action when a recent listeria crisis threatened their famed cantaloupe industry dating back to the 1880s. The tainted melons had come from one packing facility in Holly, not Rocky Ford, but growers of melons throughout that area took the hit. People wouldn’t even buy tomatoes or any other produce from their farm stands, the Rocky Ford farmers said. For the first time Rocky Ford growers banded together, taking competition out of the equation. They trademarked the true Rocky Ford Cantaloupe, instituted major new food safety measures and, with Michael and Glenn Hirakata leading the way said they believe in their valley and “want to keep the Arkansas River Valley safe for future generations.” Said association head John Knapp, “This became a community thing.”
The Stuart P. Dodge Award for lifetime conservation achievements went to Corwin Brown from Springfield, a landowner and cattleman whose name had struck fear as he and the Piñon Cañon Expansion Opposition Coalition board successfully fought off the expansion of Fort Carson training areas into Southeastern Colorado, including JE Canyon Ranch. As he explained, “It’s about conservation and private property rights. Conservation easements are not for everyone. It’s a tool to keep ranches ranches and cattlemen on those ranches.”
Hedge fund manager and philanthropist Louis Bacon was honored in absentia for his conservation efforts helping protect more than 210,000 acres of land, including 167,000 acres on Colorado’s Trinchera Blanca Ranch in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, donated through conservation easements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, completing 800,000 protected acres from Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes to New Mexico.
Land Trust Executive Director Rebecca Jewett said the honorees “have inspired greater stewardship of our natural resources” and thanked the panel of judges: Pueblo District Attorney Jeff Chostner, Phil Kendall, Kimberley Sherwood, Wynona Sullivan, R. Thayer Tutt and Bruce Warren.