BlueTriton conservation easement finalized

An early rendering of the proposed conservation easement.

BlueTriton Brands and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have finalized the conservation easement for 118.85 acres of BlueTriton property just north of Browns Canyon National Monument near Nathrop. The easement was recorded Dec. 13 in Chaffee County.

Establishing the conservation easement by Dec. 31 is a requirement of the 1041 permit approved by Chaffee County Aug. 3. The 1041 permit allows BlueTriton to extract groundwater at the property for its Arrowhead brand bottled spring water.

Greg Felt, chairman of the Chaffee County Board of Commissioners, thanked Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials “for working with BlueTriton to get this done,” acknowledging that CPW officials “have been thorough, and they’ve worked diligently.”

“The land is now protected,” Felt said, “and we were able to carve out the land needed to provide better access to Ruby Mountain by widening the county road” (County Road 300).

Ruby Mountain is a popular Colorado Parks and Wildlife campsite and boat launch and serves as the main access point to Browns Canyon National Monument.

Felt noted that the conservation easement “has been long contemplated. We’re glad to have it wrapped up and inside our deadline … as an important part of the 1041 permit agreement.

The conservation easement was first contemplated as a condition of the original 1041 permit issued to Nestlé Waters North America in 2009. (Nestlé, a Switzerland-based multinational corporation, sold its North American bottled water business to an investment partnership that renamed the company BlueTriton Brands.)

During public hearings, opponents to the 1041 permit repeatedly cited the lack of a conservation easement as a reason for the County Commissioners to deny a new permit. Instead, the Commissioners included the conservation easement as a permit condition and set the Dec. 31 deadline.

The conservation easement is established “in perpetuity regardless of how the ownership of the Property may be divided or held at any time in the future.” It also prohibits “any uses that would diminish or impair the Conservation Values or that otherwise would be inconsistent with the purposes of this CE (conservation easement).”

The easement lists three categories of “Conservation Values”: recreation, wildlife/natural habitat and connectivity.

Recreation values consist of an access easement that “will allow the general public to enter onto specifically marked trails and parking areas … for fishing and scenic enjoyment of wildlife, natural habitats, and open space.”

Wildlife species supported by the easement “include black bear, osprey, bald eagle, great blue heron, mule deer, terrestrial garter snake, greenback cutthroat trout, Canada lynx, river otter, northern pocket gopher, northern redbelly dace, Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly, American peregrine falcon, bald eagle, Gunnison sage grouse, and midget faded rattlesnake.

Natural habitat to be protected by the easement includes “Inter-Mountain Basins Montane Sagebrush Steppe, Rocky Mountain Alpine-Montane Wet Meadow, Rocky Mountain Cliff and Canyon, Rocky Mountain Lower Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland, Rocky Mountain Montane Dry-Mesic Mixed Conifer Forest and Woodland, Southern Rocky Mountain Montane-Subalpine Grassland and Southern Rocky Mountain Pinyon-Juniper Woodland.”

Connectivity values protected by the easement include “fishing easements managed by CPW,” adjacent land owned by the Bureau of Land Management and a buffer for Browns Canyon National Monument. The conservation easement makes BlueTriton “solely responsible for the costs of remedying any Violations of this CE” caused by BlueTriton or by any third parties authorized by BlueTriton to access the property.

Joe Stone