Silver Eagle: Fish & Wildlife Habitation Protection - Crested Butte, CO

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As pressures of development began to force local ranchers to sell their land for subdivision, Crested Butte recognized the threat to the area's abundant wildlife. As a solution, the resort took unprecedented steps to preserve the area's natural habitat, joining forces with ranchers, business leaders and environmentalists to form the Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy, a non-profit organization that buys conservation easements on ranchlands to preserve valuable wildlife habitat. More than 7,000 acres have been protected and 40,000 more are committed. The area also finalized a land swap with the U.S. Forest Service and State Land Board that added 5,500 acres of prime wildlife habitat to the National Forest and preserved 2,020 acres of ranchland habitat. Crested Butte's Open Space funding program was instituted to preserve open space and wildlife habitat. Additionally, one-percent of the resort's rental, retail and food and beverage revenues and four-percent of the area's development profits from acreage gained through the Forest Service land trade are pledged to the fund. (Finalist: Winter Park, Colorado)