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Amending easements ‘break promise’

In regard to the news story on Sept. 9 in The Durango Herald about the potential for e-bikes in Horse Gulch, they are not allowed.

Conservation easements have been around for at least 130 years, protecting more than 61 million acres of land nationwide. Conservation easement philosophy is simple – limit development to conserve land for public benefit. In the case of Horse Gulch, it is wildlife habitat. A conservation easement is a promise to the public by the landowner – the city – to conserve the land per the easement and by the holder of the easement, the La Plata Open Space Conservancy, which is required to enforce the restrictions.

The potential to amend conservation easements to allow e-bikes on the city’s land in Horse Gulch does not exist. To protect those easements’ purposes – primarily wildlife habitat – motorized vehicles are prohibited.

The city purchased these parcels with public money, primarily through Great Outdoors Colorado. A condition of GOCO funding was the placement of the conservation easements and GOCO reserved the right to disallow any changes. Other entities and individuals also contributed money to the effort. To attempt to change these easements, which Durango deeded to LPOSC, would break the city’s promise to GOCO, LPOSC and the public to conserve these lands forever.

Brian Kimmel