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Nonprofit Works to Conserve Farmland on Western Slope

Mesa Land Trust
Riverview Orchard is one of four family farms that recently entered into conservation easements with the Mesa Land Trust.

The declining number of orchards and vineyards in Colorado is calling one Grand Junction group to action. The Mesa Land Trust has put 115 new acres of farmland around the Western Slope town of Palisade under conservation easements.

The agreement with landowners puts limits on how the land can be used, effectively restricting the land from future development. That’s important near Palisade, says Mesa Land Trust Executive Director Rob Bleiberg, because about 90 percent of Colorado’s peaches come from the 2,000 acres in the area.

“…and also this is the home to much of the grape acreage in the state,” he said. “So we’re trying to conserve vineyard land so the wine industry in Colorado can grow and flourish.”

Bleiberg says his organization hopes to conserve another 500 acres of farmland from development over the next five years in the area.

The most recent crop of easements is made possible by about $2 million in grants from four agencies, including Great Outdoors Colorado, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Gates Family Foundation and the Goodwin Foundation.