Conservation Easement Near Telluride Protects Gunnison Sage Grouse Habitat

Baker Ranch Conservation Easement, on Iron Springs Mesa, in San Miguel County

Working cooperatively with landowners Chris and Deann Baker, TLR accepted a conservation easement in December 2005 covering 120 acres of the Baker’s property in San Miguel County.  This is the second easement the Bakers have donated on their property, bringing total protected acreage on the ranch to 280.

Also in 2005, TLR worked with the Bakers to apply to the Colorado Division of Wildlife for funding to purchase a third conservation easement from the Bakers covering an additional 500 acres, bringing the total of protected acreage to 780.  CDOW has approved the new proposal, and TLR hopes to close Baker Easement #3 by years end, 2006.

As reported in 2003, Baker Ranch is in the heart of critical wildlife habitat for the Gunnison sage grouse. A once prolific rangeland species whose numbers have dwindled to less than 3,000, today biologists point to habitat fragmentation by road building, fencing, housing development and livestock grazing as the culprits responsible for the birds decline.  Easement-required restrictions on Baker Ranch limit the subject acreage to no residential development, limited road building and maintenance, fences that discourage raptor perches, and a livestock grazing management plan that keeps cattle off during spring breeding season, and pulls cattle by early fall to maintain winter feed for the grouse.

With the donation of Baker Easement #2 at the end of 2005, TLR holds 9 conservation easements that altogether total 2235 acres.  Combined, these easements reduce 65 potential residential development rights to 6.

A tally of TLR conservation easements as of December 31, 2005 looks like this:

Location Acreage
Cimarron Ridge 2001 Cimarron Mtns. Ouray County 1,000
Garard 2002 Ironton Park Ouray County 150
Down Valley Park 2003 Placerville San Miguel County 5
Fall Creek 2003 Wilson Mesa San Miguel County 470
Baker Ranch I 2003 Iron Spgs Mesa San Miguel County 160
Mystic Valley I 2004 Hastings Mesa San Miguel County 110
Mystic Valley II 2004 Hastings Mesa San Miguel County 110
Mystic Valley III 2004 Hastings Mesa San Miguel County 110
Baker Ranch II 2005 Iron Spgs Mesa San Miguel County 120

Cimarron Ridge Conservation Easement*
Cimarron Mountains, Ouray County

*note: above photo documents Canadian Thistle problem scheduled for eradication in 2006.

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The Trust for Land Restoration
555 West Clinton Street, POB 743, Ridgway, Colorado 81432 Phone/Fax: 970-626-3236, Email: The Trust for Land Restoration