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Blog Post: Laurel's Stay Extended Into Autumn

The big news of the week: I’m staying on with Palmer for a few more months!  Apparently Palmer has been brainstorming for a while about how they could fund me to stay around longer, and they came up with a plan. I’ll be helping with a GIS project to map conservation priority areas for three regions: the Pikes Peak Region, the Santa Fe Trail, and the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway. While the first will mostly apply to internal planning, the latter two are in collaboration with the byway nonprofits.  As my stewardship tasks wind down, I’m starting to compile data on important biological areas, waterways, historic sites and recreational opportunities for each region. I will then produce regional maps and overlay all the features to illustrate which areas are of greatest importance.  We will then be able to dedicate our resources toward conserving the properties that are most valuable to our community and ecosystem.  I’m thrilled to gain more GIS practice, especially in conservation planning!

I traveled to Monument last Wednesday to visit five adjacent properties around Elephant Rock. The landscape ranges from Gamble oak and ponderosa pine forests to wide open meadows, with views of Ben Lomand Mountain and the looming Front Range.  Just across Highway 105, one can see countless homes that have cropped up in the last decade. The owners of the Palmer-protected properties sensed the coming development pressure decades before that, and decided to begin placing the family properties under conservation easements. Now, they seem happy with the decision. I commonly hear about how quickly Colorado is growing, but didn’t understand the true scale of the pattern until talking to so many landowners that have seen houses go up on all sides of their property. Of course development is inevitable, but it’s comforting to know that land trusts around the nation are working daily to make sure that development is matched with conservation.