Historic Preservation at YVLT’s Rehder Ranch Nature Preserve: “Bank Barn” Rehabilitated!

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The Rehder Ranch “Bank Barn” sits in the foreground; the Main House is visible in the distance.

 

YVLT’s 250-acre Rehder Ranch Nature Preserve is a wildlife stronghold (*updated with photos from 2015*) – but it’s also filled with cultural and historical significance!

What began as a pioneer homestead for the Rehder family at the beginning of the 20th century transformed over time into a viable working ranch with permanent buildings, thanks to Henry Rehder’s hard-work, resourcefulness and classic Routt County ingenuity.

The 1920s-era Rehder Ranch “Bank Barn” is a rare example of barn architecture in the Yampa River Basin.  The Colorado State Historical Fund and National Trust for Historic Preservation agreed, awarding YVLT historic preservation grants to stabilize and rehabilitate this unique structure, as well as prepare a Historic Structure Assessment for all historic structures on the property.

 

 

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Wondering why it’s called a “bank barn?” 

Wikipedia explains: “A bank barn or banked barn is a style of barn noted for its accessibility, at ground level, on two separate levels. Often built into the side of a hill, or bank, both the upper and the lower floors area could be accessed from ground level, one area at the top of the hill and the other at the bottom. The second level of a bank barn also could be accessed from a ramp if a hill was not available.”

The loft – now a caretaker’s unit – was used to store hay, while the lower level housed livestock.  This layout allowed easier access to the hay bales.

The Bank Barn also drew the interest of students at the University of Denver, who prepared a Historic American Building Survey for the Rehder Ranch; their work is now archived in the Library of Congress!

Click the HABS drawings to enlarge.

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Thank you to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Colorado State Historical Fund for your contributions to this historic preservation project!

Routt County approves new conservation easement on Deep Creek

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Deep Creek Meadows Ranch, in addition to productive hay meadows, is home to a nesting pair of sandhill cranes and is in close proximity to Columbian sharp-tailed and sage grouse breeding leks.
 
Deep Creek Meadows Ranch Conserved, Safeguarding the Natural Character and Scenic Vistas of the South Elk River Valley

Yampa Valley Land Trust recently finalized a new conservation project on a rustic agricultural property nestled in the scenic Elk River Valley, adding to a steadily-growing conservation corridor just north of Steamboat Springs.

The 459-acre conservation easement was made possible by the voter-approved Routt County Purchase of Development Rights program, which provided funding for this important project, as well as a donation by conservation-minded landowners Fred and Flora Wolf. With a conservation easement in place, YVLT has ensured that the pristine ranchland and scenic viewshed will remain shielded from future development – forever.

Deep Creek Meadows Ranch has deep roots in Routt County. Fred and Flora Wolf have owned the working ranch for more than 30 years, which has been in agricultural production since the 1930s.

The property is situated along the meandering banks of Deep Creek, a tributary of the Elk River, in a fertile basin surrounded by meadows and rolling hills. The rugged, rolling terrain found on Deep Creek Meadows Ranch provides important natural habitat for wildlife. The ranch is home to a pair of nesting sandhill cranes, a once-threatened migratory species that is now on the road to recovery. In addition, the ranch is situated near a critical breeding habitat for Greater Sage-grouse, a species that has been in rapid decline across the West in recent years.

Ranchland offers more than just a sanctuary for animals. By protecting working farms and ranches from future development, Yampa Valley Land Trust is safeguarding open space values and scenic vistas that are of a high priority to the local community, in addition to our cultural identity and rural way of life.

Funding for this important project was provided by the Routt County’s Purchase of Development Rights Program, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and of course, YVLT’s generous supporters which enable the organization to protect key landscapes across Northwest Colorado.

With Fred and Flora Wolf as stewards on the land and under YVLT’s oversight, Deep Creek Meadows Ranch will retain its unique character and conservation values for generations to come.

By YVLT Staff


 

YVLT in the News

“Routt County Approves New Conservation Easement on Deep Creek,” Steamboat Pilot & Today

Steamboat Springs — Routt County commissioners agreed this week to fund the conservation of the 459-acre Deep Creek Meadows Ranch in the South Elk River Valley with the help of $330,000 of voter-approved tax dollars devoted to protecting the landscape of Routt County from future development.

The ranch, which straddles Deep Creek, a major tributary of the Elk River, has been in agricultural production since the 1930s. Fred and Flora Wolf have owned and operated the ranch with productive irrigated hay meadows for 30 years.

The easement is being funded in part by the owners, who have donated 53.6 percent, or $[omitted], of the ranch’s appraised value of $[omitted], along with $[omitted] from the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service and $[omitted] from the county’s Purchase of Development Rights fund.

The Yampa Valley Land Trust, which has conserved 52,000 acres through 72 conservation easements and has been especially effective in conserving large, contiguous parcels in the Elk River Valley, will hold and manage the easement.

Fred Wolf said Wednesday that he underwent a change of careers when he moved to Routt County.

“You don’t go from being a financial person to being a rancher overnight,” Wolf said.

And the ranch has turned out to be a good place to raise children, and now grandchildren, Wolf added.

Two decades ago, Wolf was the co-chair of a citizens panel, Vision 2020, that attempted to anticipate how the Yampa and Elk river valleys would change in the 21st century and what attributes the community most prized.

“I was on Vision 2020 in 1994, and I’ve watched all this over the years and think it’s a good thing,” Wolf said. “PDR has been around for a long time and served the community pretty well.”

PDR has been in place since 1997 after voters here agreed in November 2006 to tax themselves to create a fund to stimulate land conservation. After originally approving a property tax to fund PDR in November 1996, Routt County voters renewed the tax in 2005 for another 20 years.

Deep Creek Meadows Ranch, in addition to productive hay meadows, is home to a nesting pair of sandhill cranes and is in close proximity to both Columbian sharp-tailed and sage grouse breeding leks.

The pockets of mountain shrubs on the low hills of the ranch serve as elk-calving grounds.

“I’m sure the elk can easily walk from our ranch to neighboring conserved ranches,” Wolf said.

By Tom Ross

Richard (Bergquist) Ranch: A Colorado Centennial Ranch

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YVLT Conserves Historic Ranch and Important Sage Grouse Habitat in Jackson County

YVLT is expanding its presence in Jackson County, securing a conservation easement on the 1,715-acre Richard Ranch and bolstering conservation efforts in the area.  Located 11 miles west of Walden, the working ranch and its rolling sagebrush shrublands supply critical habitat for Greater Sage-grouse.

The North Park basin where the ranch is situated is home to the second largest Greater Sage-grouse population in the state of Colorado. Sage-grouse populations have been steadily declining throughout the American West in recent years, but these birds can be found on Richard Ranch year-round, thanks to the property’s close proximity to several active breeding or “lek” sites.

Additionally, the ranch also provides moose habitat and some of the best waterfowl habitat found in the entire region. Richard Ranch borders a 41,000-acre BLM parcel and neighbors the Lake John State Wildlife Area, providing a critical buffer to the wealth of public lands found in Jackson County – in addition to protecting a large block of the scenic landscape.

The Richard Ranch has been in Jeff Richard’s family for over 120 years, homesteaded by his great-grandfather in 1892.  This Colorado Centennial Ranch is also known by his mother’s maiden name as the Bergquist Ranch or the Historic Bergquist Homestead.  The property is notable for several attributes, including: Continue reading “Richard (Bergquist) Ranch: A Colorado Centennial Ranch”

Emerald Mountain North: 586-Acre Expansion of Howelsen Hill Open Space and Recreation Area

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Howelsen Hill and Emerald Mountain, the extraordinary gems creating the backdrop to the City of Steamboat Springs, are much loved by all of those that live, work, visit and play in the beautiful Yampa River Valley.  In an area where outdoor recreation is king and the protection of open land resources reigns as the top community priority, Howelsen and Emerald (aka Quarry Mountain) have provided the community a focal point of diverse recreational activities for over a century.  Continue reading “Emerald Mountain North: 586-Acre Expansion of Howelsen Hill Open Space and Recreation Area”

Redmond Ranch: A Colorado Centennial Ranch in the Making

Jack and Wanda Redmond
Jack and Wanda Redmond

Ten miles west of the town of Yampa, the 387.5-acre Redmond Ranch is graced by aspen, sagebrush and scrub oak on hillsides, overlooking irrigated hay meadows, open grazing and pastureland – the Bull Creek drainage.  The ranch headquarters denote a classic working ranch at the heart of a property important for historic, wildlife, agricultural and scenic values.

 

Jack and Wanda Redmond, working with the Yampa Valley Land Trust, which was awarded funding from a competitive grant process through the Routt County Purchase of Development Rights Program, created a conservation easement to protect the land.  Initially homesteaded by the William Boor family in 1890, the property was used by James Redmond (senior) in 1917 and purchased by him in 1920. Continue reading “Redmond Ranch: A Colorado Centennial Ranch in the Making”