Thanks to funding from Great Outdoors Colorado, Routt County’s voter-approved Purchase of Development Rights Program and the Vernon Summer Revolving Loan Fund, and made possible by the landowners and Yampa Valley Land Trust supporters, a 724-acre conservation easement on Stillwater Ranch in South Routt County has been finalized!
YVLT’s latest conservation project preserves a working ranch and an important fixture of the area’s scenic open space landscape, in addition to safeguarding the property’s rich wildlife habitat; most notably, its irrigated meadows which provide critical Greater Sage-grouse habitat.
Adding to the growing corridor of conserved properties in South Routt County, Stillwater Ranch is situated near the Town of Yampa just east of the Flat Top Mountains within a Colorado Conservation Partnership “Priority Landscape.” The ranch is visible from Routt County Road 3 and the well-traveled Colorado Highway 131 (looking West: the scenic foreground of the Flat Top Mountains). YVLT has long focused on preserving this ecologically-important stretch of the Yampa Valley and its irreplaceable scenic qualities.
The rolling hills at Stillwater Ranch are dotted with mountain shrubs and sagebrush, while its upland areas are distinguished by stands of aspen and conifers. Its irrigated hay meadows and sagebrush stands provide high-quality habitat for Greater Sage-grouse, a species designated as “State Threatened” due to its dwindling supply of natural habitat – much of which is located on private land. Conservation easement projects such as this are critical in slowing the decline of Greater Sage-grouse populations, along with many other iconic species throughout Northwest Colorado.
Conservation of Stillwater Ranch preserves the property’s open space character as well as its important habitat for elk, mule deer, bald eagles, and many other creatures, while still allowing the landowners to continue sustainable agricultural operations there. Additionally, this project complements surrounding land conservation efforts in South Routt County – the property borders the 1,400-acre Brinker Creek Ranch, also under conservation easement held by YVLT, along with other such conserved properties in the area – strengthening ecosystem connectivity in this stretch of the Yampa Valley.
Stillwater Ranch is a conservation project of Yampa Valley Land Trust’s Ranchland Heritage Conservation Initiative. To date, YVLT has permanently protected over 55,000 acres of working ranchland, open space, and wildlife habitat across Northwest Colorado. Every conservation project preserves a sliver our heritage, from our storied agricultural economy and culture to our outdoor-centric way of life. Land conservation benefits everyone who sets foot in this magnificent region!
This important project was made possible by funding from Routt County through its Purchase of Development Rights program, Great Outdoors Colorado, and the Vernon Summer Revolving Loan Fund, which assisted with transaction costs (read more about Vernon Summer and his endowment to YVLT here). Most importantly, the generosity of the landowners – YVLT supporters – allowed this project come to fruition.
YVLT has exciting new conservation projects in the works. Stay tuned!
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