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Land alliance picnic and fund-raiser set for Aug. 28

Did you know that the Southwest Land Alliance (SLA) has been working to protect working ranch lands and open spaces in Archuleta County since 1981?

The organization was formed when a group of forward-thinking local ranchers became concerned about the pace of development in our region. When you drive around Pagosa, admiring and appreciating open vistas, lush irrigated meadows and cows grazing with mountain peaks rising up in the background, chances are that the land you are seeing has a conservation easement on it which, through the generosity of the landowner and the efforts of SLA, will be protected from development in perpetuity. The Southwest Land Alliance currently has over 18,000 acres in conservation easements.

What a huge benefit to our community and to each and every one of us who appreciate our beautiful area. However, protecting a ranch in perpetuity requires considerable time, expertise and money. To complete an easement, SLA must dedicate countless hours to negotiating satisfying agreements with the landowners, drafting deeds, documenting the property, and preparing to monitor and defend the land forever. This process also requires the skills of appraisers, surveyors, lawyers and accountants — all of whom must be paid for their services.

However, we can’t do this without the help of Pagosa Country residents. Please join us for our annual membership picnic and fund-raiser on Saturday, Aug. 28, from 5-7:30 p.m., to be held at the beautiful East Fork Ranch.

The McCarthy family, SLA and the Conservation Fund, after 22 months of hard work, have protected this iconic piece of land forever. Ski resort development has threatened the property for decades and we are finally left with an uncluttered natural landscape for all of us to enjoy.

While conservation easements rarely allow public access, the views and rural character of preserved ranches are ours to enjoy. Our picnic is a unique opportunity to see the land for yourself. Once again, a huge thank you goes out to the McCarthy family for their vision and generosity.

Join us to celebrate the victories that community support has made possible and help us to continue accomplishing more. The picnic will include a silent auction, a pie auction, dinner and good company — all provided for a $5 (suggested) donation.

If you are interested in learning more about conservation easements, including the latest about tax credits, please plan to attend our “Saving the Ranch” educational seminar from 1-4 p.m that same day, also on the East Fork Ranch.

For more details or directions to the East Fork Ranch, located on U.S. 160 East near Pagosa, call Penny Holmes at 883-5394 or Dennis Schutz at 264- 6974. We hope to see you Aug. 28 and, yes, we will be there rain or shine.