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Open Space Conservancy hands out annual awards

Metz

It has been a busy year for the La Plata Open Space Conservancy, and at the nonprofit’s annual stakeholders meeting Sunday, two awards were handed out to major contributors.

Resident Lynndee Beller, who has been involved with the group for years, received the “Volunteer of the Year” award.

“She has been very involved in our Snowdown fundraising event and without bookkeeping,” Executive Director Amy Schwarzbach said. “Now as we build capacity, revise our budget and look into future strategic planning, she has been with me in the office weekly. If there weren’t volunteers like her, we wouldn’t be able to get work done.”

Cathy Metz, director for Durango Parks & Recreation, was handed the “Conservation Award” for conservation efforts that benefit the community at large.

Since Metz became head of the department, the city has secured 3,000 acres of open space – 1,200 of which are conservation easements the open-space conservancy protects. Areas include Horse Gulch, Dalla and Overend Mountain parks, and Oxbow Park & Preserve.

“Not only has Cathy been a significant driving force of conservation, her efforts in stewarding those parks are wonderful,” Schwarzbach said.

There are more than 400 entities that hold conversation easements, which protect open space on privately owned property.

Schwarzbach said in 2014, the conservancy was contacted by 37 landowners interested in preserving their property.

“I was told that was the most in the state,” she said. “It shows our landownerships are committed to protecting open space in Southwest Colorado, and obviously, that’s why we all live here. We just have beauty all around us.”

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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