Conservation and Stewardship

Why conserve land?

The Gunnison Valley is where we live, work and recreate. The Crested Butte Land Trust works with willing landowners, local governments and non-profit partners to protect landscapes worth saving, one acre at a time.  Land conservation fosters healthy ecosystems, preserves wildlife habitat, helps provide clean air and water, gives us access to boundless recreational opportunities, supports our economy, and maintains our rural heritage. So much of what makes Gunnison Valley special is conserved open spaces: working ranchlands, clean water, scenic vistas, and healthy habitats that are invaluable to our quality of life. 


The Land Trust protects land through two primary mechanisms. The first is the acquisition of conservation easements in partnership with private landowners. Easements are unique to each property, and the Land Trust works with families and individuals on the specific terms of every easement. Some lands are protected for ranching with no public access, and others provide critical wildlife habitat or perhaps an important recreational connection. No two easements are identical yet they all protect land forever.

The second way the Crested Butte Land Trust conserves land is through fee title acquisitions. The Land Trust has purchased hundreds of strategically important acres in the Gunnison Valley for the purpose of protecting a variety of conservation values. Fee acquisition projects have protected important community assets including Long Lake, the Lower Loop and the Lupine Trails, Gunsight Bridge, and critical wetlands along the Slate River. 


The Crested Butte Land Trust doesn’t just work to conserve land for today. Once conserved, lands must be monitored and maintained for generations to come. Through our stewardship program, Land Trust staff and volunteers take the best possible care of our lands.

Caring for land is a constant and ever-changing task. Our process begins with annual monitoring of every private conservation easement and Land Trust fee owned parcel. Annual monitoring ensures that the terms of easements are being met and provides support for landowners who want to improve the conservation values on their property. The better we take care of our land today, the more the next generation will experience the Gunnison Valley we know and love for years to come. Stewardship is an investment for our future’s clean air and water, wildlife, and natural world. 

Land stewardship includes a wide variety of responsibilities, including:

  • Annual monitoring of each easement and fee owned parcel
  • Managing agricultural and grazing leases
  • Controlling noxious weeds
  • Maintaining signage and protecting private property rights
  • Protecting wildlife habitats and ecosystems
  • Managing and maintaining low impact recreational use for the public where allowed
  • Educating the public on backcountry etiquette and responsible recreation
  • Removing trash and human impacts
  • Restoring wetlands and streams


Conservation landowners are the backbone of land protection in the Gunnison Valley. Is a conservation easement right for your property?


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