Using a combination of fee simple acquisitions, conservation easements, stewardship trust programs, and land tenure adjustments, the Lake County Open Space Initiative has been successful in placing over 8000 acres of land under a single Ecosystem Management Plan for conservation management.

An Ecosystem Management Plan views the land in much the same way as wildlife does, as an interwoven matrix of forage, water, travel routes and cover, rather than as a series of political or jurisdictional property lines and seeks to manage the land and its resources to their highest and best use, regardless of man-imposed boundaries. The plan recognizes man as an integral part of the ecosystem and acknowledges the need to seek balance between human and wildlife resource needs.

The role of LCOSI is not to hold land, or to supersede the management directives of its individual partners, but rather, to create the common thread that binds future decision making to the shared goals of the partnership and the benefit of the ecosystem as a whole. By mutual consent, the partners to the LCOSI Cooperative Stakeholders’ Partnership Agreement agree to participate in the preparation of the Lake County Open Space Initiative Ecosystem Management Plan, and to use the consensus recommendations contained therein to help guide future planning decisions on subject Open Space lands under their jurisdiction.

The LCOSI Ecosystem Management Plan is a voluntary, consensus document, developed through cooperation between the agency land owners and the local community, to cross jurisdictional lines in establishing management emphasis areas for such varied uses as wildlife winter range, historic preservation, dispersed outdoor recreation, water storage, viewshed protection, habitat restoration, and water-based recreation. Under this plan, the LCOSI partnership has created a landscape linkage spanning the Arkansas River between the Sawatch and Mosquito Mountain Ranges, securing traditional migration routes and winter range, and preserving the foreground viewsheds framing Colorado’s two highest peaks.

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