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Protecting open space – Douglas Land Conservancy

Angels Among Us
By Lynne Marsala Basche

Some people are part of the morning canine and coffee bunch scene at the Glendale Farm Open Space dog park.  Others prefer high tea at Cherokee Ranch and Castle.  There are those who participate in the ultramarathon as part of the Greenland Open Space trail run.  Residents appreciate the landscape, recreational opportunities and terrain throughout Douglas County, but they may not be aware of the organization that works to secure and maintain the land, the Douglas Land Conservancy (DLC).

Douglas County has a variety of landscapes, such as prairie grasslands, rocky outcrops, forests and wetlands.  The beauty of the county and its open space was in jeopardy until 1987 when a group of citizens became concerned about the rate of growth and formed DLC.

DLC works in partnership with landowners, local governments, other conservation organizations and citizens to evaluate, accept and monitor conservation easements.   A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust (DLC for example) or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values.  Landowners retain many of their rights, including the right to own and use the land, sell it, or pass it on to their heirs.  To ensure the easement agreement is followed, DLC visits and monitors each property annually.

Currently, DLC permanently preserves 21,300 acres of open space in Douglas County.  Some of the properties are private, but many are open to the public.  Access to private land is sometimes possible through special events, such as the JA Ranch Sunset BBQ and guided hikes.  All upcoming events are on the DLC website.

Executive director Patti Hostetler encourages residents to get involved and be a part of DLC.  Consider uploading a photo to DLC’s Facebook page on Wildlife Wednesday to help raise awareness about conservation and protection of wildlife habitats, and possibly be the featured cover photo!  There are opportunities to become a volunteer for events and outreach committees, and tax-deductible donations are accepted through the DLC website.

A fun way to support DLC is to attend a special event.  There are guided hike opportunities throughout the year, which are free and open to the public. (A small donation per person attending each hike is suggested to help continue DLC’s mission.)  Also, each year, DLC invites several renowned artists to visit private and conserved properties in Douglas County as part of a fundraiser. The artists paint during the week, and then a portion of the proceeds from all art sales benefit DLC.  This year, the third annual Plein Air art exhibit is June 25 at the White Pavilion in downtown Castle Rock, and all are welcome.

Open space is one of the reasons people choose to live in Douglas County, and DLC is working hard stewarding and protecting the land through smart growth and preserving property in appropriate places so future generations can enjoy our land.  Visit douglaslandconservancy.org to learn more about DLC.

We invite readers to send suggestions for nonprofit organizations to feature.  Email editor@castlepinesconnection.com.  We look forward to learning more and sharing information about nonprofits in our community throughout the year.

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