NATURAL RESOURCES: LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION & LAND TRUST CAPACITY BUILDING
In Colorado, approximately 100,000 acres of farm, ranch, or forest lands — an area roughly equivalent to the City and County of Denver — are lost every year to development. These landscapes are critical for the state’s biodiversity, scenic values, recreation, water protection, agricultural production, rural economies, and cultural heritage.
Gates Family Foundation has been funding land conservation since 1978, and we’ve been the state’s largest source of matching funds for public-private land protection since the launch of Great Outdoors Colorado in 1992. We prioritize projects with demonstrated impact, strong funding leverage, scale, connectivity, and a high degree of collaboration, landowner commitment, and community support.
Our strategic grants program makes large, long-term commitments to land conservation and community partners who are protecting two “focus landscapes” of statewide significance: Southeast Colorado and the San Luis Valley. In addition, we support land conservation projects statewide through our capital grants program.
Nonprofit land trusts are responsible for the stewardship of nearly 80% of the 2.2 million acres of private land conserved in Colorado. Because of this, since 2011 we have invested in land trust capacity building, including leadership development for strong land trusts and supported new operating models and partnership agreements among smaller trusts. In 2018, we supported Colorado’s land trusts in launching Keep It Colorado — a new, statewide coalition with the vision, capacity, and structure to most effectively guide and support the land conservation community as it evolves to meet current and future challenges.