Nancy’s Life Work
Rio Grande Land Management
To conserve our land, water, and way of life in Colorado’s San Luis Valley.
Founded in 1999 to help secure water for the future, the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and is the only local land trust that serves the entire San Luis Valley. As the community’s land trust, RiGHT is committed to working with private landowners, public agencies, and other conservation organizations to preserve the natural beauty and wildlife habitat of the area and to promote a sustainable agricultural way of life. Our goals are to protect and support working ranches and farms, water resources, wildlife habitat, and scenic landscapes while inspiring a culture of conservation in the San Luis Valley.
Nancy’s Legacy in Statistics
Nancy Butler worked for the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) from 2002-2019, starting 3 years after its founding in 1999. For the majority of those years Nancy worked as the Executive Director of the organization, guiding RiGHT through years of growth and prosperity with her dedication, intelligence, and amicable leadership. Under Nancy’s leadership RiGHT grew to be a trusted partner in conservation and achieve its Rio Grande Initiative goal of protecting 25,000 acres along the Rio Grande and its tributaries.
- 38 conservation easements were facilitated (from 3 in 2002 to 41 in 2018)
- 25,700 acres of land became protected by RiGHT’s conservation easements
- 27,000 acres of land became protected by the Rio Grande Initiative by RiGHT
- 40 miles of river became protected by RiGHT and its partners
- 34 families were helped through RiGHT’s conservation easements
- RiGHT grew from .5 employees in 2002 to 4.5 in 2018
- Garnered roughly $40million in conservation projects
I have been impressed with [Nancy’s] knowledgeable ability to navigate dealing with public entities like NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), USFWS ( US Fish and Wildlife Service), USFS (United States Forest Service), and others as well as the highly varied landowner base. Some of the clientele were local seasoned farmers and ranchers, while others were new to the area or had an urban background. Somehow she was able to mesh these different interests together… In all modesty I can say that while we have an excellent board, there is no doubt in my mind that Nancy is the primary reason that the land trust has expanded to the point it is today and why it has the reputation that it does. For many years, she has been the face of the land trust… She was doing all of this while dealing with increasingly severe health issues… There is no one in our community that I admire more” -
Dear Nancy... I have to say thank you for many things. Mostly things you probably don’t even know or realize. As I’ve gone from grad student to professional here in the slv you have always been someone who has inspired me to be better, not only in work but as a human being. Your unswerving optimism, passion, and caring for others in work and life have been a constant reminder for me to live each day to the fullest and not sweat the small stuff. Thank you for all of your help, your guidance through your professionalism, and all you have done for conservation in the slv. Your accomplishments are a testament to your hard work and will be something that generations to come will be grateful for and appreciate.
My Sweet Nancy, how does one begin to express, mark, document, quantify the exquisite impact you have had in the realm of conservation globally, and the ripples of the long term efficacy specifically within the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust organization and the land trust community itself? Oh how!? … You have lived by it, breathed it and put your soul into the work. RiGHT is now a reflection [of] you in so many ways: solid yet fluid, respected and loved. It is truly your legacy. How many people can say they have contributed to such meaningful work for so long, tok do the work that feeds your soul? Not many, not many.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma Gandhi