land conservation

GNAR communities are familiar with federal protected land and conservation efforts, but many communities have worked to create more collaborative and locally-based conservation plans. Communities have the potential to lead local conservation efforts through planning processes and innovative new efforts, often building on long-running federal and state opportunities for funding and resources. In particular, conservation easements can provide a source of economic benefit to rural landowners while also protecting wildlife and natural resources, recognizing and paying ranchers for the ecological benefits that open space provides.

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Western Landowners Alliance: Stewardship Resources
western landowners alliance
The Western Landowner's Alliance (WLA) is an organization dedicated to working lands and promoting a connection between economic vitality and conservation. Their organization provides a hub for interested parties, resources, and publications on how private landowners can implement and benefit from conservation. In particular, their Habitat Lease concept is an innovative policy idea where rural landowners and counties can enter into habitat leases (used by Chaffee Common Ground, see following resource) which pay landowners for their contribution to conservation while protecting the ecological benefits of open lands.

Envision Chaffee County


When Chaffee County began to be “discovered," the community convened and established a planning process called Envision Chaffee. Residents later voted for a 0.25% sales tax increase to create Common Ground, a conservation funding program that supports local plans addressing landscape challenges (wildfire, recreation management, etc.), used for many conservation goals around the area. This website offers its own great resources for effective community planning based on natural amenities.

Network for Landscape Conservation Resource Library

conservation almanac
The Network for Landscape Conservation advances cross-border, collaborative conservation as a vital approach to sustain nature, culture, and community. They pursue specific, targeted actions to further landscape conservation by supporting collaborations, sharing resources, webinars, and research. Their Catalyst Fund can help fund community driven collaborative conservation processes, and their Knowledge Center (linked below) is a great place to look for examples of conservation projects and processes from around the country.

NPS: Connected Conservation in Gateway Communities
connected conservation
This webpage acts as a hub for the NPS Connected Conservation (C2) program, an organization of experts within the NPS that share best-practices, funding opportunities and provide learning opportunities through webinars. We have linked to their webinar series specifically about challenges and solutions in gateway communities, but encourage you to check out the entire site as it is full of information about how to partner with the NPS and other federal agencies.


WEBINAR: Tools for Protecting Ag Lands & Rural Open Space
future west

Rural working landscapes – farms and ranches – are particularly threatened by sprawling development that can significantly impact agricultural operations. But there are ways to maintain the agricultural lands that form the backbone of our region's identity and rural economy. In this webinar, rancher Jim Stone and Future West staffer Randy Carpenter survey the array of planning tools and strategies for better managing rural growth and they will illustrate how these are being successfully applied.

University of Wyoming Conservation Toolkit
wyoming conservation toolkitDespite its age, this 2011 toolkit (prepared by the US Forest Service and the University of Wyoming’s Ruckelshaus Institute), provides a great overview of the opportunities and efforts for conservation available in Wyoming. While the resources are focused on Wyoming in particular, the general approach to land conservation is relatable to most GNAR communities and some funding opportunities are national and could be applicable to GNAR community projects in any state.

Research & Case Studies

Wyoming Conservation Easements: Lands, Services, and Economic Benefits - Download Here

This research from the University of Wyoming provides an inventory of the types of resources, ecosystem services, and public benefits protected from development by conservation easements in Wyoming. The study analyzes which ecosystems services are protected on conserved private lands and compared those services to those provided by public lands and private lands without easements. Check out the National Conservation Easement Database for more information in other states.

COMaP: Colorado Ownership, Management and Protection database - Download Here

This resource from Colorado State’s Colorado Natural Heritage Program is a map of open spaces, natural areas, parks, and conservation easements across Colorado. It integrates these local and small efforts into a big picture plan of wildlife corridors, patterns of open space, and areas in need of protection.