Glas Deffryn Ranch on the Yampa River: YVLT’s Latest Conservation Project

YVLT is excited to announce the completion of our latest conservation easement: Glas Deffryn Ranch on the Yampa River!

If you have ever traveled along Routt County Road 14 – the “gateway” to Stagecoach Reservoir State Park and the surrounding residential community – then you know firsthand what an idyllic stretch of Routt County it is.  YVLT’s new ranchland preservation project marks a significant step forward in keeping this landscape connected by connecting an unbroken 5-mileconservation corridor along the Yampa River watercourse (bordering RCR 14) comprised of conserved properties and public lands.


Take a look at YVLT’s conservation corridor (click to enlarge):


Landowners Steve and Pam Williams have long wished to see their 207-acre ranch permanently preserved, and today their dream has finally become a reality.  Glas Deffryn Ranch consists of two holdings; 86 acres on the Yampa River upstream from and bordering Stagecoach Reservoir State Park, as well as an additional 121 upland acres where the ranch and its agricultural operations are headquartered.  The Williams’ purebred fold of Scottish Highland cattle can often be seen roaming the property’s open pastures.

“We truly appreciate the expertise and tremendous support we have received from Yampa Valley Land Trust, Routt County PDR, GOCO and the Gates Foundation to help us realize the dream of keeping this small ranch we have cobbled together over the last 18 years as one entity into the future for the benefit of agriculture, wildlife and the natural view shed long after we are gone,” Pam says.

Great Outdoors Colorado, Routt County (through its Purchase of Development Rights Program), and the Gates Family Foundation provided funding for the conservation easement on the 86-acre riverfront parcel.  The 121-acre holding received funding from Gates Family Foundation, as well, allowing the Glas Deffryn Ranch conservation easement to move forward.  Both transactions were complemented by a generous donation of value from the landowners, in addition to contributions from YVLT supporters.  Further, the Vernon Summer Revolving Loan Fund assisted with transactional costs.

Approximately .75 channel miles of the Yampa River bisects Glas Deffryn Ranch.  Adding to its conservation significance, the 86-acre riparian parcel borders both Stagecoach Reservoir State Park and Iron Springs Ranch, a 640-acre riverfront property also under conservation easement with YVLT (which is contiguous with the 99-acre, YVLT-conserved C-Cross-C Ranch on the Yampa River).  Collectively, these lands form a conserved river corridor spanning five consecutive channel miles along the Yampa’s watercourse, providing landscape-scale environmental protection and safeguarding the stunning rural vistas that characterize the Stagecoach area (see it on the map, above).


The Williams’ fold of purebred Highland cattle can often be seen roaming the property’s open pastures.


Glas Deffryn Ranch is notable not only for its scenic qualities, but also for the quality wildlife habitat that exists there.  Nearly 70 percent of all species in Routt County rely on riparian environments at some stage in their life cycles, and over 200 migratory and resident bird species have been documented in the Stagecoach area.  The 207-acre property provides important habitat for grouse, great blue herons, sandhill cranes, bald eagles, mule deer, elk, moose, bears, mountain lions, and more.

The Yampa River is truly the lifeblood of Northwest Colorado.  Its protection is critical not only for today, but for the future of this great region.  YVLT will continue to look for opportunities to safeguard this vitally important resource, along with working ranches, open lands, and critical wildlife habitat throughout Northwest Colorado.  To date, YVLT has conserved over 55,290 acres across 75 conservation easements in Northwest Colorado, with a focus on the Upper Yampa River Valley in Routt County.

YVLT would like to thank the people and organizations that made the Glas Deffryn Ranch conservation easement possible: Great Outdoors Colorado, Routt County, Gates Family Foundation, YVLT supporters, and Steve and Pam Williams.

Join us in protecting the very best of the Yampa Valley and Northwest Colorado!

Donate today.

Yampa River Festival: Celebrating One of the Last Relatively Free-flowing Rivers in the American West

kayak YampaCrowds flock to Charlie’s Hole in downtown Steamboat Springs to watch brave souls tackle the Yampa’s surging whitewater.

This weekend (June 3rd), the Yampa River Festival returns to Steamboat Springs to celebrate its 36th season of raising awareness for and protecting the Yampa River – the lifeblood of Northwest Colorado.  The Yampa River is a relic of the way waterbodies once were in the American West: it is among the last relatively free-flowing rivers remaining in this arid region.  The water that runs through the Yampa supports globally rare attributes further downstream, including unique plant communities and four endangered fish species.

The Yampa River is under intense pressure to meet ever-increasing demands for water, underscoring the urgency to protect this critically important resource today.  With more than 20+ years of energy poured into conserving the Upper Yampa River watershed, YVLT has permanently preserved thousands of acres along its 250-mile watercourse.  In addition, YVLT has worked to expand public access opportunities along the river corridor, allowing more people to enjoy this treasured community asset.

We have so much more to do in order to safeguard the health and integrity of the Yampa River.  Your support is critical in preserving this precious natural resource!

Support the Yampa River by supporting YVLT.

The Improbable Comeback of River Otter in Northwest Colorado

Photo: CPW
Photo: Colorado Parks & Wildlife

Once upon a time, river otters could be found in nearly every significant river drainage throughout Colorado.  But habitat loss and degradation, overtrapping, and water quality issues decimated otter populations, culminating in 1906 when the last known native river otter in the state was killed on a stretch of the Yampa River.  From that point on, otters were locally extinct in a state where they once thrived.

Decades later, the elusive mammals are making a remarkable comeback in the Intermountain West.  In the late 1980s, a number of river otters were successfully reintroduced into the Green River just outside of Dinosaur National Monument near the Utah-Colorado border.  Many of them branched off and slowly found their way east, where some of the otters returned to their historic range in Yampa River basin.  The Yampa River – one of the West’s last relatively free-flowing water bodies – has an abundant supply of fish which the otters rely on for sustenance.

Click play on the video below (courtesy: National Geographic) to see river otters in action.

While otter sightings along the Yampa are still relatively rare (they are hard to spot even with a trained eye), the solitary semi-aquatic creatures have been documented on at least two YVLT-conserved properties in Routt County: Lake Catamount, south of Steamboat Springs and the Carpenter Ranch, located just east of Hayden.  Many more of YVLT’s conservation easements preserve potential habitat for otter along the Yampa River, helping to ensure that otters have the resources they need to secure a foothold in this region and achieve a self-sustaining population.  Their miraculous recovery in this area – along with that of bald eagles, Peregrine falcons and bighorn sheep – is attributable in part to private land conservation efforts along key river corridors.

With river otters on the rebound in Colorado, it is possible the species will be removed from the “State Threatened” list and downgraded to a “Species of State Special Concern” by Colorado Parks and Wildlife experts in the future. 

YVLT is thrilled to have these wonderful creatures back in Northwest Colorado!

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.