DLC’s Board of Directors is a dedicated group of volunteers. For Thankful Thursday, we’d like to share our heartfelt appreciation for outgoing Board President, Jane Boand. Jane is a founding DLC Board member and this was her second time serving as Board President. Please join us in welcoming our incoming Board President, Alan Clarke. Here are some of their thoughts on the history of the organization and the motivation to continue the important mission of land conservation.
“In about 1986 when my DLC story began, Douglas County had 42,000 residents (by 2019 the population had grown more than eight-fold) and the Town of Castle Rock was a burg with one stoplight and only multi-party telephone lines. As a new resident, I quickly learned to answer the phone only when we heard our particular ring to avoid joining someone else’s conversation! However, the County recognized that growth was imminent and in that year decided to lead citizen discussions on how that growth should be guided to maintain the high quality of life that was attracting so many new residents like my family.
With my planning background, I decided to join several workshops including one on open space. Also attending were enthusiastic Douglas County residents (Mel Sorenson, Don Hart, Jo Mickelson and Ernie Fazekas) each with a strong desire to preserve the best open spaces in the County. I had recently completed a CSU graduate school internship with The Nature Conservancy and at the workshop raised my hand to mention the idea of forming a similar non-government land trust to use conservation easements as a means to help landowners preserve their open space and wildlife lands. Somewhat to my surprise, the idea was warmly embraced and I found myself on an organizing committee that resulted in the incorporation of the Douglas Land Conservancy as a private non-profit 501(c)(3) land trust in the fall of 1987.
Almost immediately, the land trust concept resonated with several landowners. The all-volunteer DLC board quickly learned how to evaluate properties for high conservation values, then to work with landowners to establish mutually-agreed upon conservation easements. We also ventured out into the community to talk with citizens, landowners and local governments about the benefits and opportunities provided by local land trusts. As President in those early years from 1989 to 2003, and again over the past four years, the board and I frequently attended community events to spread the word. During evening board meetings, we worked diligently to craft the legal conservation easement documents that would stand the test of time. Yet, with a small budget of a new organization we could not hope to own any land ourselves and soon realized that even hiring paid staff was out of reach.
However, in 1992 the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) lottery fund program was approved by Colorado voters, supported by a truly amazing grassroots effort in Douglas County. For nearly 30 years now, the resulting funding stream continues to provide matching grant funds for qualified land trust and local governments. Other private and public grant programs also now provide a boost to specific DLC projects and programs.
For DLC, the GOCO program provided a new opportunity to secure crucial conservation easements and to grow the organization in a healthy, sustainable manner. We could also partner more readily with local governments and other conservation organizations to hold third-party conservation easements, as GOCO requires. This is a role that DLC fills for numerous Douglas County and local jurisdiction’s open land properties including the iconic Sandstone Ranch. With that additional responsibility, DLC’s role expanded to include annual monitoring of conservation easement lands to ensure their integrity.
I feel so very fortunate to have participated in the growth and incredible evolution of DLC over the past 34 years! From our humble roots as a citizen-led local land trust to a robust, effective regional land trust with more than 26,760 acres of conserved lands in Douglas, Elbert and Jefferson counties. Our exceptionally talented staff are dedicated to the acceptance and monitoring of DLC’s more than 84 conservation easements. Our staff also oversees a community outreach program that has really taken off, including nature hikes and programs, book club, social media and numerous special events by staff, committees and our 138+ volunteers.
Although I now turn over the Presidency of DLC (to the eminently qualified Alan Clarke), I’m truly excited for DLC’s next chapter! Surely there will be challenges, but with the creative, dedicated power of the many people of DLC (board, staff, volunteers and supporters – you know who you are!) we will thrive in a community that values our amazing open spaces and provides a healthy environmental for all. Thank you for allowing me to participate.”
“From the spark of an idea in Jane Boand’s imagination to the present vibrant organization, Douglas Land Conservancy has made great strides in ensuring that many of the natural features making Douglas County and the surrounding area such a desirable place to live will always be here for the enjoyment of future generations. Since joining the DLC Board of Directors in 2009, I have been truly impressed by the dedicated and passionate staff and board members, and the many enthusiastic volunteers and donors, all of whom are instrumental to advancing the mission and success of DLC. As Jane steps down from her second stint as President of DLC (Thank you, Jane, for all you have done for DLC!), I am humbled to be entrusted with the opportunity to work with our staff and Board in guiding DLC into the future.
As a boy, I roamed the hills and forests of Upstate New York, and grew to love the outdoors. Later, I worked in Los Angeles and Northern Virginia and saw first-hand the rapid vanishing of open spaces, animal habitat and natural viewscapes. At times, the onslaught of “development” seems inexorable and unstoppable. However, Douglas Land Conservancy has proven this wrong, at least at the local level. Every day we see the fruits of DLC’s and our partners’ work, with spectacular public open spaces such as Dawson’s Butte and Sandstone Ranch, along with other preserved lands, all of which continue to guarantee places for bears and elk to safely wander, as well as ensure that beautiful, pristine vistas will always be here, regardless of future development. From my perspective living here in Douglas County, there is no work more important or more rewarding than furthering the mission of Douglas Land Conservancy and ensuring its success in perpetuity.”