December 17, 2019

Alamosa, CO Colorado Open Lands announced today renewed support from the Trinchera Blanca Foundation for ongoing conservation work in the San Luis Valley.  The two organizations have a long history dedicated to measurable and impactful protection of local land and water for farming and ranching, wildlife, and scenic beauty.

“Colorado Opens Lands’ efforts to conserve the San Luis Valley’s heritage and wildlife habitat while pursuing leading-edge water protections have been extremely successful,” said Louis Bacon, chairman of The Moore Charitable Foundation and its local affiliate, Trinchera Blanca Foundation. “Their important work will benefit the Valley for generations to come.”

The grant money will be invested in four project areas: 

Acequia Initiative. This initiative aims to strategically protect private land irrigated by acequias – shared irrigation ditches – which are located throughout the Rio Culebra watershed. The acequias represent the oldest water rights in Colorado, and their protection is critical to preserving their heritage. Many acequia properties have been in the same families since the mid-1800s, and the acequias form the agricultural, social, and ecological foundation of the community.

River and Aquifer Recovery and Enhancement (RARE). This collaborative effort with San Luis Valley subdistricts and the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trusts seeks to design a conservation easement focused on groundwater. The goal of this program is to limit groundwater pumping when water resources are scarce, and to allow greater flexibility once the aquifers are recovered and snowpack is high. This will benefit the Valley’s highly water-dependent ecology and mitigate risks to the local agricultural economy.

Grain for Cranes. Colorado Open Lands supports the San Luis Valley as a critical stopover area for the annual migration of nearly all 20,000 of the Rocky Mountain population of Greater Sandhill Cranes. This program benefits cranes in the Valley while also recognizing and rewarding the agricultural producers creating this invaluable habitat with financial incentives to leave small portions of their barley crop standing through the cranes’ spring and fall migration.   

Teacher Workshops. Through this program, Colorado Open Lands trains teachers from across the state to incorporate outdoor education into their lessons.  During the event hosted at Trinchera Ranch, Colorado Open Lands offers educators the chance for a week-long, immersive experience that uses hands-on examples of lessons about watersheds, wildlife, and climate.  The teachers bring those lessons back to their classrooms, allowing the program to reach thousands of students per year.

Trinchera Blanca Foundation’s support has played a critical role in allowing Colorado Open Lands, in partnership with local farmers and ranchers, to conserve over 56,000 acres in just four years. That’s almost three times the size of the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

“It’s incredibly meaningful to our work to have a partner like the Trinchera Blanca Foundation. Their visionary leadership helps us protect the San Luis Valley’s way of life in perpetuity, through their investments in the conservation of its land and water,” said Tony Caligiuri, President and CEO of Colorado Open Lands.


About Colorado Open Lands

Colorado Open Lands is a private, nonprofit land trust that works to enhance Colorado’s quality of life by protecting its most treasured asset: open lands. Since 1981, COL has helped landowners conserve more than 500,000 acres around the state and fostered partnerships responsible for critical innovations in conservation funding, conservation easement defense and more. In 2015, COL adopted an ambitious strategic plan to help interested landowners protect a total of 800,000 acres across Colorado by 2025.

About the Trinchera Blanca Foundation

The Trinchera Blanca Foundation, the Colorado affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation, founded by Louis Bacon in 1992 supports organizations committed to protecting land, water and wildlife habitat in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The Trinchera Blanca Foundation also supports community programs dedicated to improving quality of life in the surrounding region.