The Lake County Open Space Initiative (LCOSI) was formed in the winter of 1997, in response to simultaneous real estate offerings of over 7000 acres of historic ranchlands along the Arkansas River corridor in Lake County, Colorado. The subject lands represented: important foreground and middle ground view sheds framing Colorado’s highest peaks, as viewed from the Top of the Rockies National Scenic and Historic Byway; critical wetland, riverine, and low-land riparian ecosystems; prime big game winter, calving, and transitional habitats; crucial landscape linkages between the Sawatch and Mosquito Mountain Range’s; traditional wildlife migration routes, spawning grounds and waterfowl flyways; unique recreational opportunities along the headwaters of one of the Nation’s most significant waterways; and tangible links to the rich mining and ranching heritage of the State and Region.

The Open Space Initiative was formed at the invitation of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners and represents a diverse and varied stakeholders’ group with a common interest in community sustainability and preserving the intrinsic, natural, recreational, and cultural resources of the Upper Arkansas River Watershed. The partnership has evolved over the intervening years in response to dynamic change, and represents a broad cross section of public interests, including; local, state, and federal agencies; private entities and individuals; and governmental and quasi-governmental bodies, organized under a Cooperative Stakeholder’s Partnership Agreement.

The actions and decisions of the LCOSI Partnership are consensus based, and non-binding on the partners. LCOSI decisions are not intended to supersede the mandates and implementing legislation of the individual jurisdictions, but rather, to provide collaboratively generated, ecosystem-based management direction for integration into the planning processes of the individual entities that control the lands within the County’s Open Space. LCOSI itself does not own or control any real property.

The Vision of the LCOSI Partnership is:

The acquisition and stewardship of land and water resources in Lake County by a partnership of federal, state and local agencies and organizations for the purpose of: protecting and enhancing critical wildlife habitat; conserving open space; restoring impacted habitats; securing public access; increasing recreational opportunities; preserving cultural, agricultural, scenic and historic resources; increasing public awareness and education; and enhancing sustainable growth and development opportunities in Lake County.

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