As they celebrate 20 years of existence, staff members at the Mountain Area Land Trust also are excited about receiving national accreditation for the organization.
After an extensive process involving 1,000 pages of documentation, MALT has been accepted by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
“This accreditation is so important to make sure everyone knows we’re here forever,” said Betsy Hays, MALT development director.
The land trust, which works to preserve properties in Jefferson, Clear Creek and Park counties, is now one of 180 of 1,723 land trusts in the nation to earn the distinction since the commission was established in 2006.
“Earning accreditation is an important milestone for MALT,” said Jeanne Beaudry, executive director.
The designation tells land trust partners, donors and landowners that the organization is well-run, financially sound and trustworthy, Beaudry said. The accreditation also ensures that conservation achievements will endure for future generations, Beaudry said.
Since formed in 1992, MALT has worked with private landowners and public entities to save scenic vistas, natural areas, wildlife habitat, working ranches and historic lands.
In Jefferson County, the sweeping Noble Meadow along Squaw Pass Road is a prime example of MALT’s efforts. Another nearby property the land trust assisted in preserving is the Beaver Brook area in Clear Creek County, which offers a scenic trail to a lake.
“We have chosen to live here because of the way the area looks,” said Hays.
While there is a place for development, preserving open spaces, farms and historic properties is important economically, she remarked.
“The value of your home is going to be a lot higher with a view,” Hays said.
One-third of the landowners who preserve properties through MALT are seeking federal and state tax benefits, she said. Others convert their properties to conservation easements as a way of preserving them for children and grandchildren.
MALT has protected 13,291 acres of land through private owners and 6,000 acres through public projects.
In return for placing a conservation easement on a property, the owners sign away the right to develop the land forever, although they continue to own the property. The land remains intact as scenic open space and wildlife habitat. The residents can live there and pass it on to their children.
In exchange, the owners receive a state income tax credit worth 50 percent of the value of the donated portion of the conservation easement, up to $375,000.
Owners also are entitled to a federal income-tax deduction equal to its full fair market value, usually limited to 30 percent of the donor's adjusted gross income in any given year, with the remaining value carried forward for up to five additional years.
For more information, visit the Mountain Area Land Trust website at www.savetheland.org.
Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at email@example.com or call 303-350-1042.