The Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT) has been drawing supporters to the meadow behind the Alderfer Barn for many years now. Those who attended would often be entertained by the elk and a grand sunset behind the rock outcroppings known as the Three Sisters (and a brother, if I'm not mistaken).
The Night in the Park event used to piggyback with performances of the National Repertory Orchestra when it performed under the tent, enabling the group to avoid having to pay to rent a tent and have it set up for a single evening. In the early days MALT worried about merely covering costs and raising a little money. Members of Mountain Foothills Rotary used to cook the steaks, and everyone on the MALT board had to help in one way or another with hanging lights, making appetizers or desserts, serving food or serving drinks.
Although the live music has ALWAYS been terrific (Dakota Blonde this year), MALT has come a long way over the years in building its support base – the size of the tent has doubled. The event is officially catered, and trained bartenders have replaced the volunteers. Members of Mountain Foothills Rotary still volunteer to help with parking cars though. And many of the same faces turn out every year to support the organization that reflects what they love most about living in the area: open space.
It's become a tradition to honor one or more people who have played significant roles in fulfilling MALT's mission. The Bud Simon Preservationist of the Year Award (named after one of MALT's former board members who did so much to bridge the gaps between land-owners and developers) went to Hillary Merritt this year. Hillary, a project manager for Trust for Public Lands, was instrumental in MALT's securing a parcel of land on Floyd Hill that will provide the link to open to the public 12,000 acres of open space, heretofore inaccessible.
Bob Meade of Evergreen was named MALT's Land Steward of the Year for donating to MALT 41 acres of land in Kittredge. It's land he'd owned and cared for for many years.
Unlike many fundraising events, people who support MALT come prepared to raise the paddle in support of their efforts. Just a few years ago I was amazed when the professional auctioneer announced a goal of $30,000 and asked in a playful manner, "Does anyone want to make this simple and write a check for that right now?" And someone did! The donations for land conservation aren't "easy," but they've certainly gotten to be easier to come by in recent years than they were earlier on! This year, before adding in the income from ticket sales, the silent auction, or the live auction, the paddle raise alone brought in more than $70,000 in a matter of minutes. Emcee Reggie Rivers worked his touch on the audience, making every bidder feel instrumental to the cause.
To learn more about the many accomplishments of MALT, click here.