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:
• Colorado’s longest standing recreation lease with Colorado Division of Wildlife (over 35 years). This access lease (at the north end of the property to the south of Lake John) provides public access to fishing, wildlife watching, waterfowl and small game hunting along two miles of the sinuous North Fork of the North Platte River;
• Habitat that helps to support the second-largest population of greater sage-grouse in Colorado (and one of the least stressed);
• Habitat that supports one of the state’s top three wetlands for breeding waterfowl, according to Ducks Unlimited; and
• A cooperative management plan between the landowner and CDOW designed to promote rehabilitation of the willow community along the North Fork of the North Platte River, creating critically needed habitat for moose, sage-grouse and other wildlife species.
The Richard Ranch abuts Lake John, lying east, southeast and south of the lake. The ranch raises high-quality hay and supports a cow-calf operation. Susan Dorsey, Executive Director of YVLT stated, “Yampa Valley Land Trust thanks Jeff Richard for this conservation transaction and CDOW for their funding support. North Park and the Lake John area are popular recreational destinations – including for those of us that live in Routt County. Bird and wildlife watching in the area are popular activities with incredible diversity in North Park. Thank you to all that made this conservation transaction possible – including YVLT’s donors.”