Conservation Plan – Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway

Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway

Designated in 2005, the Collegiate Peaks Byway cuts through the middle of the Upper Arkansas River Valley along the Arkansas River’s famous whitewater canyons and parallels dramatic 14,000 foot peaks. The byway is 57 miles long and traverses the entire length of Chaffee County where visitors can experience a bounty of natural and historical resources.

Conservation Priority Areas

Ranking Lands for Conservation Value

photo by Andrew Mackie

photo by Andrew Mackie

Utilizing grant funds provided by the Federal Highway Administration and the Colorado Department of Transportation, lands along the scenic byway were evaluated for their conservation value based on their importance for scenic views, agricultural production, wildlife habitat, proximity to conserved lands, and historic significance. Properties were assigned numeric values for these attributes and ranked according to their scores. A total of 33 attributes were scored ranging from elk migration corridors, to moose priority habitat, to surveyed historic properties, to adjacent lands to the proposed Stage and Rail Trail route, and agricultural land, to name just a few. Certain attributes such as large agricultural properties were given a greater weight in scoring because of their importance in maintaining the characteristics of the scenic byway as identified in the 2008 Byway Management Plan. The map represents these areas as shaded colored blocks, with the following conservation priority areas: very high (score 12 to 19), high (score 9 to 11), medium (score 5 to 8), and low (below score of 5). All priority areas are generalized and do not represent specific property boundary lines. The priority areas are for planning purposes only and do not carry any regulatory or funding weight. The Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas (LTUA) and the Chaffee County Heritage Area Advisory Board will use scores to help prioritize conservation work along the Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway. Priority areas will also help determine what regions of the Byway will be the focus for pilot and new programs to help assist landowners maintain their historic land uses. All conservation work along the Byway is done only with the voluntary cooperation of individual landowners.

Using the Interactive Map

You may need to zoom in (using the + sign at the top of the map) in order to see all of the data. Click on areas of the map to view photographs and more information about conservation easements, preserves, historic register properties, surveyed properties and interpretive sites.

state-icon    State and/or National Register of Historic Places

photo by Katherine McCoy

photo by Katherine McCoy

Chaffee County listings:

The Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation (OAHP) assists property owners in listing Colorado’s most historically and architecturally significant buildings, structures, and sites in the National Register of Historic Places and the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties.

Why be listed?

Properties listed in the National or State Register may be eligible for investment tax credits for approved rehabilitation projects. Listed properties are also eligible to compete for grants from Colorado’s State Historical Fund. These grants may be used for acquisition and development, education, and survey and planning projects.

Although OAHP strongly encourages the preservation of National and State Register properties, listing offers no automatic protection. There are no restrictions imposed by History Colorado as to what private property owners may or may not do with their property. Private property owners may alter or demolish a listed property subject only to applicable local government regulations and permitting procedures. In some communities, properties listed in the State Register may be automatically designated as local landmarks. Such landmark status may include the local review of proposed changes to the property through the application of design guidelines.

Benefits of Listing

The Colorado State Register formally recognizes properties possessing a documented level of significance and that contribute to the understanding and appreciation of the history or prehistory of a community, the state, or the nation.

By honoring such important sites, the Colorado State Register provides the following:

  • Formal recognition of a property’s importance to the history of the community and the state of Colorado.
  • A body of information for local community planning, tourist promotion, neighborhood revitalization.
  • A sense of community history and local pride.
  • Eligibility to compete for grants from Colorado’s State Historical Fund. These grants may be used for acquisition and development, education, and survey and planning projects.
  • Eligibility to apply for state tax credits for restoration, rehabilitation, or preservation of Colorado State Register properties.
  • Limited protection from state agency actions that would affect the property. Agencies must solicit the comments of History Colorado to assure that Colorado State Register properties are given consideration in the state planning process.

Properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places are automatically placed in the Colorado State Register. They may also be nominated separately to the Colorado State Register without inclusion in the National Register.

For general nomination information contact:

History Colorado

historic-icon Surveyed Historic Properties

In 2010, the Chaffee County Heritage Area/GARNA received a Colorado State Historic Fund Grant to survey 65 properties in Chaffee County for a Historic Resources Survey. A final survey report and the Architectural Inventory Forms for all 65 properties are available in the Salida Regional Library and the Buena Vista Public Library. These important historic properties encompass the entire county including Granite, Buena Vista, Maysville, and Poncha Springs.

explore-icon Exploration Routes

12 side routes are highlighted along the Collegiate Peaks Byway that offer spectacular scenery and experiences. Most routes are easily accessible by car, but some require high clearance or 4-wheel drive. More information on these routes can be found in the Collegiate Peaks Byway Brochure.

Byway interp signs

photo by Alison Ramsey

byway-icon Byway Interpretive Signs

The Chaffee County Heritage Area/GARNA received Federal Highway Administration funding through the Colorado Department of Transportation to develop and install wayside interpretive signs along the Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway in Chaffee County. Three waysides were installed in 2009, and five more were established in 2013. Each wayside highlights the area’s past and draws attention to historic sites with illustrations, photos and narrative.

conservation-icon LTUA Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements between a landowner and a land trust, which permanently restrict the development and subdivision of land. A conservation easement ensures that land will be protected forever for agriculture, wildlife habitat, scenic views, or other recognized conservation values. Conservation easements allow landowners to continue to own and use their property, to sell it, or to pass it on to their heirs. Conservation easements do not require a landowner to grant public access to their private property. In some cases, conservation easements may allow limited future development to occur on the property, depending upon the needs of the landowner; however all conservation easements involve the giving up of some rights associated with the land. It is LTUA’s responsibility to ensure that the easement’s terms are followed forever.

photo by Andrew Mackie

photo by Andrew Mackie

Conservation easements can be very flexible, and each one is tailored specifically to the individual landowner’s situation. Many conservation easements can be eligible for both a Federal tax deduction and Colorado State tax credits. State tax credits are often sold for cash by landowners placing conservation easements on their property. Because of this flexibility and the generous tax benefits associated with the donation of a conservation easement, they have become the most popular voluntary conservation tool for landowners across the country. The Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas has expert staff to help property owners determine if conservation easements are the best option for them. More info is available from the Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas at To contact LTUA about conservation easements email or call 719-539-7700.

preserves-icon LTUA Preserves

Preserves are owned by the Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas. The properties are managed to maintain their ecological and wildlife significance and in some cases for public recreation. Each property has a detailed management plan developed to help the Land Trust in long-term stewardship. LTUA will consider the donation of additional preserves if the property meets the criteria as set by the organization. Contact LTUA for more information.

The Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas

The Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas works with landowners to protect in perpetuity the important natural, agricultural, scenic, and historic lands and water in Central Colorado. Established in 2001, LTUA is a non-profit organization that is certified by the State of Colorado to hold conservation easements and is a registered charity. The Land Trust supports the protection of agricultural properties and other private lands that have wildlife, ecological, scenic, or historic value. LTUA is also spearheading local riparian restoration projects. LTUA has obtained more than $7.5 million in funding for conservation projects since 2010. The Land Trust has combined these grants with local donations to support the conservation of over 9,000 acres in Central Colorado and protection and restoration of over five miles of creeks and rivers.

Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA)

Established in 1996, GARNA’s mission is to foster stewardship of the resources of the greater Arkansas River region through education, volunteerism and experiences. GARNA accomplishes this mission through formal partnerships with natural resource agencies and work with local, like-minded organizations.

In 2004, Chaffee County designated the whole of Chaffee County a “heritage area” and created the Chaffee County Heritage Area Advisory Board to oversee heritage and byway activities. GARNA was appointed as the administrative, fiscal agent and to date, close to $524,000 in funding has been obtained for Chaffee County.

Chaffee County Heritage Area

The Chaffee County Heritage Area, established in 2004, is managed by an Advisory Board to protect and preserve the historic, cultural, natural and economic resources of Chaffee County and to educate residents and visitors about their significance and their preservation. The Board is comprised of one GARNA representative, representatives from other local preservation-focused organizations, representatives from the county’s three municipalities, and members of public land management agencies.

The Collegiate Peaks Byway Conservation Plan was funded in part by a grant from the Federal Highway Administration, National Scenic Byways

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