YVLT Acquires Conservation Easement on Yampa River Property: Iron Springs Ranch

Yampa River on Iron Springs RanchThe Yampa River Meandering Through Iron Springs Ranch

Yampa Valley Land Trust Conserves Two Miles of the Yampa River on “Iron Springs Ranch”

Yampa Valley Land Trust, Gates Family Foundation and Routt County’s Purchase of Development Rights (“PDR”) Program made a splash this year by conserving over two miles of the Yampa River on Iron Springs Ranch. This property’s unique location and ecological values are distinguishing: the 640-acre working ranch is situated just upstream from Stagecoach Reservoir State Park, safeguarding a wildlife stronghold in an ecologically-significant section of Routt County.

The new project adds to a growing YVLT “conservation corridor” in the Stagecoach vicinity that is aimed at landscape-scale land conservation, leveraging other nearby conservation projects to preserve the area’s scenic vistas, agricultural values, and prime wildlife habitat. The Yampa River is truly the lifeblood of our community and is consistently recognized as one of the most hydrologically and biologically intact watersheds remaining in the West. At only 250 miles long, every mile of preservation along its riparian corridor represents a victory for land conservation in Northwest Colorado.

Routt County’s voter-approved Purchase of Development Rights Program provided the funding that allowed this important conservation project to move forward, in addition to critical financial support the Gates Family Foundation and YVLT’s generous donors. Conservation of Iron Springs Ranch not only preserves the ecological values found on this parcel, but also its rich history: it has been in agricultural production for over 70 years. Four generations of the Stetson clan have worked on the family ranch since Frank Stetson’s father first acquired the land in the 1940s. With a conservation easement on the ranch, the proper framework is now in place to keep the land in agricultural production forever.

Iron Springs Ranch is highly visible along the well-traveled Routt County Road 14 corridor, which serves as the gateway to Stagecoach State Park, Sarvis Creek Wildlife Area, Sarvis Creek Wilderness Trailhead, Routt National Forest and the developing Stagecoach residential community. As it adjoins 736 acres of BLM land, the ranch provides an important wildlife migration corridor and serves as a visual buffer to the wealth of public lands in the vicinity.

Thanks to its location along the Yampa River, Iron Springs Ranch provides habitat for a wide range of river-dwelling mammals and amphibians including otters, great blue herons, sandhill cranes, and a multitude of other species. Brush-covered portions of the ranch and its irrigated meadows provide habitat for bald eagles, mule deer, elk, moose, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, and a variety of raptors and songbirds.

By protecting working farms and ranches from future development, Yampa Valley Land Trust, Routt County PDR and Gates Family Foundation are safeguarding open space values and scenic vistas that are of a high priority to the local community. This important conservation easement project marks an accomplishment for Routt County residents with benefits for its animal inhabitants as well.

With its latest conservation project finalized, YVLT has conserved over 54,300 acres in 73 conservation easements across Northwest Colorado – protecting the best of what this remarkable area has to offer.


 

  • Established in 1992, Yampa Valley Land Trust works with willing landowners to conserve the agricultural, natural, scenic and historic landscapes located in Routt, Rio Blanco, Jackson and Moffat Counties.       To date, much of YVLT’s work has focused on the Upper Yampa River Basin in Routt County and the Upper White River Basin in Rio Blanco County. Over the past twenty years and prior, Yampa Valley Land Trust has been the leader in land conservation for the area and has protected over 54,300 acres in 73 conservation easements.       Additionally, YVLT has worked to conserve an additional 5,000 acres proximate to the City of Steamboat Springs and on Emerald Mountain and Howelsen Hill that now provides public access to open space and trails. All of YVLT’s projects ensure that the beautiful working landscapes and prime ecological features along with outstanding recreational projects will continue to be an inspiring part of our lives and the lives of generations to follow. Through cash donations and contributions, supporters of Yampa Valley Land Trust helped to make these projects and all Yampa Valley Land Trust conservation easement projects possible. For more information please call Susan Dorsey at the Yampa Valley Land Trust, 970-879-7240.
  • The Routt County Purchase of Development Rights Program has, to date, completed 50 conservation projects totaling 36,734 acres and currently has 5 projects in process totaling an additional 3,880 acres. For more information please call Helena Taylor at Routt County, 970-879-0108.
  • The Gates Family Foundation makes philanthropic investments statewide that contribute to the quality of life in Colorado, create opportunities for youth, and support stewardship of this extraordinary place, particularly the state’s natural inheritance. At the end of 2014, the Foundation invested more than $241 million across Colorado towards these ends. In carrying out its mission, the Foundation strives to maintain a long‐term perspective and focus on the challenges and opportunities that will have the greatest impact over time on the people, communities and resources of the state.

Routt County approves new conservation easement on Deep Creek

Deep Creek
Deep Creek
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

Richard Ranch

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”

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”