Cynthia Crawford created two conservation easements with Yampa Valley Land Trust on 568 acres of her C-Cross-C Ranch in South Routt County. “My goal is to keep this ranch like my Dad wanted it. He loved this place and so do I,” stated Cynthia Crawford. One mile of the Yampa River (a 99-acre tract along the river) and a pristine forest area (a 469 acre tract atop Thorpe Mountain) are now protected.
The Routt County Board of County Commissioners approved the use of Routt County Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) funds toward the bargain-sale purchase of the two conservation easements on the Property.
In 1996, Routt County voters approved the creation of a PDR Program to be used for purchasing development rights and establishing conservation easements. In November 2005, voters renewed and expanded the PDR Program to continue conserving open land resources in Routt County. Funding is derived from a portion of County property taxes. Through a proposal and review process, Routt County PDR Program funds may be dispersed to landowners that work with land conservation organizations. The process is overseen by a Citizens’ Advisory Board, which is appointed by the Routt County Board of County Commissioners. The PDR Advisory Board must make recommendations to the Routt County Board of County Commissioners on whether to fund the purchase in full, in part, or not at all. By 2006, the PDR Program has helped fund conservation easements on 8,630 acres in partnership with Yampa Valley Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and the City of Steamboat Springs, all sponsors of PDR funded projects.’
The two conservation easement transactions were sponsored and facilitated by Yampa Valley Land Trust. Yampa Valley Land Trust also holds the two conservation easements that combine to conserve approximately 568 acres of the 2,122-acre C-Cross-C Ranch. The C-Cross-C Ranch is located just southeast of the Town of Oak Creek.
The Yampa River Parcel conservation easement encompasses one mile of the Yampa River and consists of riparian area, wetlands, irrigated hay meadows and south-facing sage slopes. The riparian area along the Yampa River provides habitat for a wide range of wildlife that includes bald eagles, great blue heron and sandhill cranes. The outstanding scenery on the Yampa River parcel is visible from the heavily traveled Routt County Road 14. Historically, the C-Cross-C Ranch once served as a stage-line stop on the Steamboat to Wolcott stage-line. One of the original outbuildings from this historic use is still located on the Yampa River Parcel.
The Thorpe Mountain Parcel conservation easement conserves an area of heavily timbered mountain slopes, which also supports a wide variety of wildlife including mule deer, elk, mountain lion, black bear and a variety of other species. The property is visible from US Highway 40 and Routt County Roads 14A, 14B, 14D, 16 and 18.
Additionally, the C-Cross-C Ranch is adjacent to other lands conserved by Yampa Valley Land Trust and lies in close proximity to Stagecoach State Park and lands owned by the Colorado State Land Board, Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management.
Cynthia Crawford noted that this conservation easement is given to the memory of her father John L. (“Jack”) Crawford, who was raised on the C-Cross-C Ranch from an early age by his grandparents George A. and Anna Crawford. Jack Crawford continued to ranch on the property until his retirement in the early 1970’s and lived at the ranch until his cabin burned down in 1991.
The original ranch property (which included the Yampa River Parcel) was purchased in 1914 by George A. Crawford – one of the first town marshals for Steamboat Springs (but no direct relation to James Crawford, founder of Steamboat Springs). George Crawford and his son Frank R. Crawford, Sr. ranched the property until Frank’s untimely death in 1920, when riding horseback and his horse jumped off a cliff near the Cripple Creek gold mine. At the time of their father’s death, Jack and his brother Frank “Jr.” came to live at the ranch with their grandparents George and Anna.
Over the next several decades, George, and later grandson Jack, continued to ranch and to purchase land in the area, until the ranch grew into several thousand acres. In the 1940′s the ranch acquired the Thorpe Mountain Parcel, which is now included in this conservation transaction.
After Jack’s retirement from ranching in the early 1970’s, the property was leased to various individuals for grazing and hay production. The ranch infrastructure fell into disrepair over the period of 20 years, until Cynthia returned to the ranch she was raised on to begin the fourth generation of ranching Crawford’s on this land. Cynthia is revitalizing the ranch, running a cow-calf operation on the property and continuing a nearly century-old ranching tradition.
Since Jack’s death in 1999, Cynthia has struggled to keep the ranch in the face of estate taxes on the inflating land values in Routt County. However, Cynthia’s strong commitment to the land and wildlife motivates her to conserve the property. Overtime, Cynthia would like to conserve the entire C-Cross-C Ranch.
Along with funds from the Routt County PDR program, this bargain-sale purchase of the C-Cross-C Ranch conservation easements was made possible through Yampa Valley Land Trust supporters and a generous donation of conservation easement value made by Cynthia J. Crawford – in honor of her father John L. Crawford. Cynthia Crawford will maintain ownership and management of the Ranch and Yampa Valley Land Trust holds the conservation easements.