Funds Will Allow More Conservation Easements To Be Purchased Around Camp Williams
When Camp Williams was built, it was bordered by open land. Today it is located near some of Utah’s fastest growing communities, and much of the open land around it is being developed.
The Conservation Fund is a group working with Camp Williams and other organizations in the state to address this encroachment, mainly through the purchasing of conservation easements. The partnership was recently awarded $7 million by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to help continue their efforts.
“The pressure has been this: if you owned land out there and had it been in the family for generations, to convert it from agricultural land to subdivision. That's big dollars. But if we can monetize that through the purchase of a conservation easement, people can afford to remain on the land, monetize a portion of that asset and continue to do what they have been doing in some cases for generations,” said Mike Ford, the fund’s southwest director.
Ford said easement land is set aside in perpetuity, achieving conservation goals while benefiting shareholders.
“We've been able to preserve the land in open space and traditional agricultural use,” Ford said. “Avoid the conflict that would occur with high density subdivisions being right on the fence line, and more importantly, preserve that land as a wildlife corridor because the agricultural uses and the wildlife uses are not incompatible there. ”
The Conservation Fund has cumulatively protected 3,000 acres in the area so far. The plan for the new money from the USDA is to put it towards the fund’s goal of adding another thousand acres in easements.
“There's a number of supplemental agreements that will allow us to do a number of other things out there,” Ford said. “There'll be an education component. There'll be a restoration component. Certainly the primary role will be to continue to conserve and protect the area's valuable resources and habitat.”