© Mike Norton (Colorado)

Challenges - Colorado Conservation Summary

In 1970, there were less than 10,000 acres of land legally protected through conservation easement in Colorado. Today, that number approaches 1.2 million and is increasing every year. This significant achievement on the part of Colorado’s 41 land trusts and 14 open space departments is made possible by a unique set of funding and incentive programs. Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), a state trust fund that distributes a portion of Colorado’s lottery proceeds, offers funding to land trusts and local governments for land protection through its Open Space, Planning, Wildlife, and Legacy grant programs. The Colorado Conservation Easement Tax Credit Program offers credits to landowners who donate conservation easements to offset their state income tax liability.

And they are needed – now more than ever. Coloradoans face many challenges in protecting their natural heritage. Colorado is one of the fastest growing states in the nation, with a population that is expected to grow by one million people in the next ten years. We are losing 100,000 acres per year to urban development (, and there are many, many more acres of wild lands being impacted by energy and water development, invasive species, fire suppression, and outdoor motorized recreation – not to mention global climate change.

Fortunately, the Colorado conservation community is forming strong partnerships to protect and conserve our natural heritage. Non-governmental organizations, state and federal agencies, and local governments and landowners are working together to form grass-roots efforts to protect significant places at multiple scales across our state. Together, these tools and partnerships are changing the face of conservation in Colorado.

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