August 18, 2015

GILPIN & BOULDER COUNTIES, Colo.—U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, federal, state and local partners gathered today to celebrate the conservation of one of the largest intact private properties along the Front Range, and they called for permanent reauthorization and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), America’s premier conservation program that will expire in 44 days.LWCF provided funding through the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to conserve the historic 4,700-acre Toll property, leveraging local funding from Boulder County, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and Denver Water.  Located at the upper reaches of the South and Middle Boulder Creek watersheds, the Toll property is critical for Denver and Boulder drinking water and important for a variety of recreation opportunities within easy access of both metro areas.

“Colorado’s natural beauty is one of our state’s greatest assets, and preserving our public lands so that people have places to hike, bike, fish, climb, ski, and raft is vital for our economy,” said Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). “For more than 50 years the Land and Water Conservation Fund has played a key role in preserving our nation’s outdoor treasures, just like this beautiful parcel of land we are celebrating today. We need to keep working to ensure that the Land and Water Conservation Fund doesn’t expire so that future generations can enjoy places like the Toll property for years to come.”

Established 50 years ago by Congress, LWCF is a visionary and bipartisan federal program that uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties—not taxpayer dollars—for the protection of irreplaceable lands and improvement of outdoor recreation opportunities across the nation. The program has permanently protected nearly five million acres of public lands including forests, natural resources, historic and cultural sites, state and local parks and recreation areas.  In Colorado, more than $239 million from LWCF has helped to protect some of the state’s most special places and ensure recreational access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.

"The Land and Water Conservation Fund has become a great friend to Colorado, for generations to share. It's an excellent tool to allow lands across the nation to become available to the public," said U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO). “As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I supported the Land and Water Conservation Fund and was proud to see it included in a comprehensive energy package that was approved by the Committee with broad bipartisan support. I’ll continue to work toward permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund as it’s commonsense policy that paves the way for sportsmen, hunters, and countless Coloradans and Americans to continue to enjoy our nation’s most treasured lands.”

Land preservation runs in the Toll family. In 1994, brothers Henry Toll, Jr. and Giles Toll, now both deceased, conveyed 1,320 acres to the USFS clearing the way for establishment of the James Peak Wilderness in 2002.  A generation earlier, uncle Roger Wolcott Toll was deeply involved in establishing Rocky Mountain National Park and served as Park Superintendent.  At the outset, one-time attorney general of Colorado, Charles H. Toll, assembled the Tolland Ranch, but died unexpectedly in 1901, leaving his widow Katherine Ellen Wolcott Toll to manage.  Katherine ignored Charles’ plan to dam South Boulder Creek and create a reservoir from Rollinsville to the Moffat Tunnel to serve their ranches near Broomfield.  Instead, Katherine and her sons platted the town of Tolland and built the Mariposa Inn, creating a bustling mountain tourist attraction, keeping the valley’s natural resources intact and setting the stage for today’s conservation legacy.

“I’m thrilled that—thanks to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and local resources—we’re able to protect the historic Toll property for generations to come,” said U.S. Representative Jared Polis. “The property is a critical watershed for Boulder and Denver users and also a popular recreation destination. Today’s celebration though, was also a somber reminder that the Land and Water Conservation Fund will expire in 44 days. We need to permanently reauthorize the LWCF so that it can continue preserving public access and conserving our most valuable natural resources.”

Surrounded by the Continental Divide and James Peak Wilderness, attendees overlooked the scenic South Boulder Creek valley and quaint Tolland townsite. The importance of recreation in this area made this project a top priority for federal, state and local partners.  National forest and wilderness lands surrounding the private Toll property are popular year-round destinations for a variety of outdoor activities, reachable in less than an hour from Denver/Boulder.  Eldora Mountain Resort, reachable without the winter weekend gridlock of Interstate 70, relies on the Tolland Ranch for its system of Nordic trails. This project also produced an agreement to establish a new non-motorized trail, managed by Boulder County, crossing the Tolland Ranch and connecting with national forest on the east and west (“West Magnolia to Jenny Creek”). These uses contribute to Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy which, state-wide, generates $13.2 billion in consumer spending, 124,600 direct jobs, $4.2 million in wages and salaries and $994 million in state and local tax revenue.

“The endurance of the Toll family, and the commitment of partners at all levels to work together, achieved today’s outcome,” said Christine Quinlan of The Conservation Fund’s Boulder office. “As the lead source of funding, LWCF dollars were the catalyst that brought this remarkable partnership together.”

The Conservation Fund facilitated this multi-year effort to conserve all 4,700 acres owned by two branches of the Toll family for over 120 years. LWCF provided $5,500,000, which was matched by $1,500,000 from Boulder County and $800,000 from GOCO. Denver Water also provided $850,000 to the project. The outcome is a perpetual conservation easement through the USFS’ Forest Legacy Program on 3,334 acres; this land remains in the Toll’s private ownership and the easement is held by the Colorado State Forest Service. An additional 823 acres, buffering the James Peak Wilderness Area, were acquired by the USFS using LWCF funds.  The last 539 acres, including the ecologically important Mammoth Gulch riparian corridor, were acquired by Denver Water.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are re-defining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 7.5 million acres of land, including 200,000 acres in Colorado at the Greenland Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch, Ben Delatour Scout Ranch and additions at Barr Lake State Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Release Contact

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org

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