The mantra: Loving a place isn’t enough. You must have the courage to protect it.

Nearly 400 people from around Colorado who walk the talk went to The Antlers hotel on Oct. 11 to honor Palmer Land Trust land conservation champions.

The trust’s conservation director, Ed Roberson, used a Wallace Stegner quote: “We are each motivated by affection, by such a love of place that you want to preserve it and remain in it.” For Executive Director Rebecca Jewett, “Land conservation is in crisis and bold conservation is needed.” Everyone needs, she said, “to protect what you love forever.”

Palmer Land Trust, started as the William J. Palmer Parks Foundation in 1977, has a focus of establishing and protecting public open spaces and parks in the Front Range. Now one of the largest land trusts in the country, it has holdings protecting more than 135,000 acres “of working farms and ranches, signature landscapes and scenic corridors and public recreation open spaces.”

The beginning of the private to public history was on the 1980 legal deed presented to the trust by Lifetime Achievement honoree Lyda Hill and signed by her father, Al Hill, who deeded over private property at Garden of the Gods for the city and public use. She and co-honoree Nancy Lewis, the late parks director, were saluted for their “dynamic conservation partnership and special friendship... with a shared vision and passion for parks, community and natural landscape” that protected Garden of the Gods Park. Read about the duo: tinyurl.com/y24o6qng

As with Hill, Lewis and other honorees, the trust’s Roberson quoted revered “agriprophet and man of letters” Wendell Berry about the two kinds of Americans: “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers “pillage and run” and are “motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and property, and therefore power.” The stickers, said Berry, “are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it.” Those at the evening event were the “stickers.”

Environmental Stewardship honorees Duke Phillips III and his son and daughter manage the family- based Ranchlands. Their 87,000-acre Chico Basin Ranch is owned by the Colorado State Land Board and the 103,000-acre Mendano Zapata Ranch by The Nature Conservancy. The Phillips family has combined working ranches with an educational, sporting, entertainment and hospitality component that’s “multidimensional, multilevel.”

Renowned natural resources photographer and videographer Pete McBride was honored as “the champion for the Colorado River” and for his knowledge of water resources. He used his strong storytelling skills as he trekked 750 miles by foot along the length inside the Grand Canyon. “We need to protect the places we want to venture,” he said. Special to him is “silence” in his journeys. “The sounds of nature, the sound of agriculture, the sound of wildlife. It’s disappearing because we live in a noisy world.”

Michael Bartolo was honored for Innovation in Conservation, recognized for agricultural research and innovation and his impact on Colorado’s agriculture community. He develops chile pepper varieties, including a special one with the name of his uncle, Harry Mosco.

Photo gallery: gazette.com/life/around-town

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