San Isabel Blog

 

Conservation leaders Randy and Claricy Rusk talk here about their ranching lives and why conservation is important to them, our landscape and our way of life. We need your help to carry on their legacy.

Join San Isabel Land Protection Trust today! 

 

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Janet Smith

Posted in News

San Isabel’s board of directors has named fellow board member Chris Skagen interim executive director.

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Janet Smith

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust named Vic Barnes its Alice Proctor Outstanding Volunteer of the Year at the land trust’s annual member appreciation event Aug. 27 at the Harold G. Vickerman Ranch.

Vic, who until earlier this year had served on San Isabel’s board of directors since 1999, helped lead the land trust through major growth during its first two decades.

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Janet Smith

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Kate Spinelli has been promoted to Stewardship Director at San Isabel.

The move emphasizes San Isabel’s commitment to working with landowners to protect and care for land and water in Huerfano, Custer, Fremont and Pueblo counties. The land trust aims to ensure the region remains a beautiful and wild landscape with a strong agricultural foundation and a vibrant, healthy community.

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Janet Smith

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Join our dynamic and passionate conservation organization and live and work in one of the most beautiful areas of Colorado. San Isabel Land Protection Trust is hiring an executive director.

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Janet Smith

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Here in southern Colorado, we value our wild and working open spaces, productive agricultural lands, wildlife habitat and scenic open spaces for what they bring to our quality of life. Many of us are here because of the beauty and because the valley offers a quiet escape from the rapidly developing cities of Colorado and beyond.

Colorado’s spending on land conservation returns far more than pretty views, according to a recently released study. It provides a solid foundation for the state’s economic future.

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Ben Lenth

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Art for the Sangres enters its third decade of showcasing remarkable art for a vital cause – helping to protect land, water and wildlife while there is still time.

The event will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at A Painted View Ranch just outside Westcliffe.

The fine art show and reception is San Isabel Land Protect Trust’s largest fundraiser. The land trust has protected more than 40,000 acres of working ranches, agricultural and forest lands, water resources, wildlife habitat and scenic open spaces throughout southern Colorado.

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Janet Smith

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust this summer has enjoyed the hard work and energetic personality of stewardship intern Veronica Travers. 

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Janet Smith

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust remains engaged in western Fremont County, advocating for the agricultural use of water and ranchland preservation. Toward this end, the Gates Family Foundation has awarded San Isabel $210,000 toward purchasing water rights and a conservation easement on the Maverick Ranch, located along the Arkansas River five miles downstream from Salida.

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Ben Lenth

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust is one of six land trusts selected in the West to participate in a pilot program to develop ways to engage community members in our work and to better engage San Isabel in the community. The program is being developed by the Land Trust Alliance, a national coalition of conservation groups, and will be rolled out across the country.

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Janet Smith

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 What better way to learn about the bountiful birds in our area than an early-morning walk with local bird enthusiast Leon Bright at beautiful Music Meadows Ranch.

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Janet Smith

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Please join the Coaldale Alliance and San Isabel Land Protection Trust from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.  Tuesday, June 27, at the Coaldale community building for a summer update on the CB Ranch water court case.

A special thanks to all who have made a 2017 contribution toward our efforts. We so appreciate you; every dollar counts. You can donate here or mail to SILPT, P.O. Box 124, Westcliffe, CO 81252. Be sure to note that your donation is for the Coaldale Alliance.

 

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Janet Smith

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Randy and Claricy Rusk, Wet Mountain Valley ranchers and conservation pioneers, are this year’s winners of the Stuart P. Dodge Award for lifetime achievement.

The award, part of the Southern Colorado Conservation Awards presented by Palmer Land Trust, recognizes the Rusks’ vision, leadership and influence in the ranching community in support of land conservation. 

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Janet Smith

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Greetings as spring speeds toward summer here in the Sangres! May snows and rains left the fields an emerald green, helping a year that's been nothing if not unpredictable. No snow in March! And no new land protected to report.

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San Isabel extends a big thank you to Vic Barnes for nearly two decades of service on our board of directors, most recently as vice president. Vic had served on San Isabel's board since 1998. We’re happy to report Vic will continue to serve on San Isabel’s Land Preservation Committee, keeping his expertise and experience at the table. Thanks, Vic, for 19 years of board service!

Joining the San Isabel board are Kristie Nackord, San Isabel’s former development director, and attorney Chris Skagen.

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Janet Smith

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Our fifth Hardscrabble Mountain Trail Run was a day to remember thanks to our runners and walkers, the friends and family who came out to Bear Basin Ranch to cheer them on, our wonderful volunteers and our generous sponsors.

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Janet Smith

Posted in News

 

The 5th annual Hardscrabble Mountain Trail Run was a fabulous success thanks to our participants, volunteers, sponsors, and the friends and family who cheered on our racers at Bear Basin Ranch. We couldn't ahve asked for better weather or better folks to spend the day with. You help San Isabel Land Protection Trust protet working ranches and farms, scenic open spaces, clean water and wildlife habitat. A BIG thank you tall, and we hope to see you next year.

Top finishers:

10K Run

  • Women, Bridget Rankin, Amarillo, Texas, 55:20.1
  • Men, Taylor Stack, Salida, 41:19.9

5K Run

  • Women, Joanna McIntyre, Saida, CO, 25:23.5
  • Men, Cody Rankin, Amarillo, Texas, 21:26.6

Complete results can be found here.

 

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Janet Smith

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Wildfire changed our landscape and our community last year. As the coming rains wash over burned soils, the fire’s legacy will continue to change the landscape and waterscape for years to come. Much can be done to help alleviate negative impacts on safety, homes, roads and water supply. But we need your help.

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Kate Spinelli

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Learn how to protect your home and property at a community wildfire workshop hosted by local, state and federal officials.

The free workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 28, at the Wet Mountain Fire Protection District office, 215 Fourth St. in Westcliffe. 

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Janet Smith

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With spring here and the forest beginning to regenerate after last fall’s Junkins Fire, our local community is getting ready for what comes next.

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Kate Spinelli

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The Bluff Park is the jewel of downtown Westcliffe, and San Isabel Land Protection Trust wants to polish it with your help.

The Land Trust hopes to create a crew of volunteers – Bluff Stewards – to help with planting and maintaining gardens and landscaping. Think Friends of the Library but with a gardening twist – and a spectacular view.

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Kate Spinelli

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust  — with your help — has drafted a new three-year strategic plan that will take us to 2020. 

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Ben Lenth

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust’s efforts to enhance The Bluff Park have received a $3,000 boost from the Colorado Garden Foundation.

 

 

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Janet Smith

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Young people from across south central Colorado will work to reduce fire risk and treat invasive weeds on Duckett Creek Ranch, a protected ranch on the eastern flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Westcliffe.

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Ben Lenth

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A month after firefighters contained the fast-moving Junkins Fire, San Isabel Land Protection Trust is engaging with landowners and agency partners to assess damage, establish a recovery plan and connect landowners with much-needed resources.

 

 

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Ben Lenth

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San Isabel welcomes Janet Smith of Westcliffe as our new director of development.

 

 

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Ben Lenth

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The 20th annual Art for the Sangres proved one for the record books, tallying nearly $170,000 in fine art sales Sept. 23 and 24.

 

 

 

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Janet Smith

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Your support of San Isabel Land Protection Trust shows you care about land, water and wildlife. We hope you will do even more to safeguard our shared legacy. Support San Isabel tomorrow on Colorado Gives Day! Double matching funds are available to make your gift go the extra mile. 

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Ben Lenth

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust named Custer County resident Anita Welch its Alice Proctor Outstanding Volunteer of the Year at the Land Trust’s annual member appreciation event Sunday at the Bluff Park.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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We hope you will join us September 24 for our 20th annual Art for the Sangres fundraiser. The event is a celebration of beauty – art, land and community. The setting: A Painted View Ranch, three miles outside Westcliffe in the stunning Wet Mountain Valley. It could not be more aptly named for the occasion.

 

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Ben Lenth

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust is pleased to announce the appointments of Blake Osborn (Cañon City) and Dianne Whalen (Westcliffe) to their 2016 Board of Directors. They wish farewell to outgoing Directors Claricy Rusk, Mary Ellen Lesage and Claudia Cole, and Director of Development, Kristie Nackord.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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Driving across the Valley floor recently we were greeted with the sweet summer scent of freshly cut grass wafting in our open windows as we cruised past hay field after hay field in various stages of converting green summer pastures into essential winter forage for thousands of cattle, horses, goats, sheep, and probably even an occasional deer and elk.

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The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded a $50,000 grant to San Isabel Land Protection Trust on Monday to conserve Huckleberry Hills Ranch in western Pueblo County.

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Janet Smith

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More than 225 people from all over Colorado and even as far as Texas, New Mexico and Pennsylvania, participated in San Isabel’s 4th Hardscrabble Mountain Trail Run on Sunday, June 5, at Bear Basin Ranch. The event raised more than $7,000 for local conservation.

 

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The days are finally warming after a cool, wet spring and here at the ranch we’ve been spending more and more time outside; working the garden, hiking, horseback riding, and generally getting to know the land. Flowers are blooming everywhere. Dandelion, golden banner, blue flag iris, bush honeysuckle, chokecherry, and gooseberry are in bloom along with their more domesticated (but no less beautiful) cousins – lilacs, snapdragons, and old homestead apple trees. Abundant moisture, longer days, and the warm caress of the sun have turned the valley into a lush paradise.

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Recently, San Isabel landowners and members joined Curt and Peggy Sorenson at their Garden Park property in northern Fremont County to hear their story of a very successful public-private collaboration for forest restoration.

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If you are a member of San Isabel Land Protection Trust, we invite you to join us and our hosts, Curt & Peggy Sorenson, to tour their protected land and hear the Garden Park story of public-private collaboration for land restoration.

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Kristie Nackord

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Spring is here! Vast greening hay fields provide a striking contrast to the still snowy-white mountains. Crocus and hyacinth poke their diminutive flowers above the soil in local gardens, and their wild cousins the Pasque flowers are doing the same in the open meadows. Days have lengthened, and the sun’s rays melt the ice off the ponds, inviting Blue Herons, geese, and ducks to take up residence in their search for promising nesting areas. It smells of sun-warmed pine trees and freshly turned dirt.

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Recently I attended the Conservation Excellence Conference hosted by the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts at the University of Denver. There I participated on a panel discussing a suite of innovative water management solutions to secure water for people and nature.

 

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We'd like to introduce you to Michael Banz and Kathy Blaha, long-time friends and members of San Isabel Land Protection Trust and founding members of our Evergreen Giving Club. We recently asked them why they give to San Isabel. Below are there answers.

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Kristie Nackord

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust welcomes Kate Spinelli to the team as the new Stewardship Specialist, bringing the land trust to three, full-time staff members.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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Join San Isabel Land Protection Trust and the Custer County Chamber of Commerce for community coffee and light breakfast on Wednesday, April 13 from 9am - 10am.

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Kristie Nackord

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There’s nothing more quintessentially “American West” than the high lonesome sound of a coyote yipping across the sagebrush hills at dusk. Coyotes are plentiful here in the Valley and are seen often, roaming fields and forests. Although coyotes are at home in the remotest areas of the Mountain West, few wild creatures have adapted as handily to human presence and coyotes have been spotted in areas as highly populated as New York’s Central Park.

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At the end of 2015, San Isabel Land Protection Trust helped two families realize their dreams of protecting their land. Both properties lie on the forested eastern flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, adjacent to the San Isabel Forest in Custer County. Now, critical wildlife habitat and forest land will be protected, forever.

 

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust is offering a forest health workshop on Thursday, February 18, covering topics such as local forest history, pests and diseases, and more. The workshop will be located at Second Street Café in Westcliffe and is hosted by San Isabel Land Protection Trust in partnership with Colorado State Forest Service, United States Forest Service, Colorado State University Extension and the Custer County Conservation District.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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On cold, clear winter nights high in the Rocky Mountains, silence reigns. The brilliant crystal clarity of the stars cast soft shadows over the snow-covered landscape, and not even the faintest sigh of a breeze disrupts the utter stillness. On these nights, the quiet is only broken by the haunting call of the Great Horned Owl.

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“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”

One could aptly quote “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge when observing the snow­capped mountains and rushing rivers of Colorado.

 

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A few weeks ago, we lost a few chickens. The first one didn’t worry us that much. Sometimes you lose chickens to predators. It’s just the way it goes. But after we lost two in one day, we closed our free ranging chickens into the safety of their coop and waited to see what would show up looking for more easy prey.

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In June of this year, I accepted the position as Board President of San Isabel Land Protection Trust. I am honored to work with a group of talented individuals and consider myself very fortunate to have this opportunity to be part of furthering Colorado land and water conservation. I would like to extend a special thanks to our board members, staff, members and volunteers, for their hard work and commitment over the last 20 years.

 

 

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Kristie Nackord

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Help San Isabel attract a buyer for the Claret Canyon Ranch, a beautiful 335-acre protected property in southern Fremont County. The sellers of this gorgeous ranch have offered San Isabel a generous finder’s fee if we find a buyer. Will YOU help us?

 

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Kristie Nackord

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Driving north on Highway 69 recently, we were enjoying a typical Colorado bluebird morning. The newly snowy mountains rose high above hay feels still tinted green, the snow blindingly white against the cloudless cerulean sky. Willows glowing gold with the last of the fall color wound through the meadows and past the highway following creeks edged with ice. The morning air was crisp, but the sun’s rays were warm, hinting at the pleasant afternoon to come. As we neared Beckwith Ranch, three very large raptors caught our eye, circling lazily, their heads as snowy as the mountains to the west.

The bald eagles are back.

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Congratulations to Dr. Curt Sorenson for winning the 2015 Southern Colorado Conservation Award for Stewardship! We applaud your efforts for spearheading the largest collaborative forest restoration project in the region.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust invites the community to a private viewing of The Great Divide, a feature length documentary film from the Emmy award-winning team of Havey Productions.

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Kristie Nackord

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A couple of weeks ago I was standing in the front yard taking in the glory of the Milky Way spanning the night sky when I heard a sound I hadn’t heard before. A bit eerie (particularly in the dark), it took me a minute to realize I was listening to one of the quintessential sounds of Fall in the Colorado high country– an elk bugle.

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Nearly 300 guests over the course of two days enjoyed fine art, food and wine during the 19th annual Art for the Sangres at A Painted View Ranch. Over $147,000 in art was sold during the event, 40% of which supports conservation efforts in Southern Colorado.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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For 10 days out on the Bluff Park in Westcliffe residents and visitors alike might’ve seen a crew wearing yellow hard hats. Those belonged to the Southwest Conservation Corps who were working to fix erosion issues at the Park.

 

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A team of artists from across the country and beyond will help paint a brighter future for land conservation this Saturday during the 19th Annual Art for the Sangres at A Painted View Ranch near Westcliffe.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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Last weekend was Labor Day weekend - unofficial end to the summer. While the valley is still lush, green, and warm, hints of fall are beginning to nudge away the lazy summer days. We recently moved residences, and looking out our new window at a bush I saw one lone branch sporting leaves that had turned crimson red.

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust (San Isabel) was recently awarded a $382,700 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). The money will go toward the purchase of a conservation easement on 2,051 acres of Redwing Ranch in Huerfano County.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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Once slated as the site for a high rise hotel, The Bluff Park is now protected forever thanks to a conservation easement donated by San Isabel Land Protection Trust to Colorado Open Lands.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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The big tents were up on The Bluff this past weekend, this time to celebrate San Isabel Land Protection Trust’s 20th Anniversary.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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San Isabel believes an important premise of private land conservation is that private landowners are the best stewards. That’s why the land is productive, full of wildlife, beautiful and worth protecting. However, over time, we suffer droughts, invasions by different weeds, forest pests, and other challenges. San Isabel would like to support our landowners in facing these challenges.

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Kristie Nackord

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San Isabel is pleased to announce the appointment of Larry Vickerman as Board President. Also joining the board of directors in 2015 is Woody Beardsley.

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Kristie Nackord

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Summer has finally arrived in the Wet Mountain Valley. We've left the cool, wet, cloudy spring behind for long days full of warm sunshine and cool nights full of starry skies. An occasional thunderstorm rumbles through on its way east, dropping more precious moisture and putting on a light show. The clean, bright smell of fresh grass and sunshine mixes with the heady vanilla scent of sun-warmed ponderosa pines. Summer is a season of plenty, and where we live, beauty is no exception. We've “spotted” so much recently; it's hard to pick just one thing to talk about.

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Henry Watson has joined the San Isabel team as our summer intern. He is responsible for monitoring many of our conservation easements as well as working on special assignments.

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Kristie Nackord

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This morning, Governor Hickenlooper signed Colorado Senate Bill 206 into law, providing greater financial return to landowners who wish to protect their land and water with a conservation easement.


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Kristie Nackord

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Those of us who live here in Colorado love our sunshine. We also love to tout to out-of-staters the frequency in which our beloved sun appears. “We have over 300 days of sunshine per year – that’s more than San Diego and Miami!” We are closer to the sun than most places – our high altitude making those warming rays more intense and allowing us wonderful ‘winter’ activities like bikini skiing (or just snowshoeing without a coat for those of us who aren’t crazy about the idea of snow + bikini). It also means sunscreen or other protection is critical pretty much every day… at least until the past month.

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In my previous article, “Water Smart Growth – the Key to Colorado’s Future”, I discussed methods for supporting Colorado’s water conservation efforts, including the collection and use of rainwater.

 

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Meet New York Times best-selling author Christopher McDougall as part of San Isabel’s Hardscrabble Mountain Trail Run festivities June 6-7.

 

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Kristie Nackord

Posted in News

As a youngster who spent his childhood summers playing in the irrigation ditches at my grandparent’s Southern Colorado cattle ranch, I realized at an early age the importance of water to the health and livelihood of rural Colorado. This has been drawn into even tighter focus during my time working for San Isabel Land Protection Trust. Productive agriculture and ranching is impossible without good water rights.

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Spring and fall mean bird migration time – and we get plenty of them in the Wet Mountain Valley. Some only stop by for a brief visit. More stay for the summer season, similar to some of our human residents.

 

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If 2 million Colorado newcomers wind up in suburban developments, water resources in rural Colorado could be in serious trouble. In a typical Front Range suburb, most residents live on large lots with beautiful Kentucky Blue Grass lawns. Kentucky Blue Grass grows great — in Kentucky, where annual precipitation averages 40 inches a year. Here in Colorado, where precipitation is only 14 inches annually, this type of grass requires a lot of supplemental watering. Non-native lawns and trees often require a tremendous amount of water to survive – water that can only arrive by way of water transfers away from productive agriculture.

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Spring is in the air and San Isabel is gearing up to beautify the Bluff Park for the summer season. Volunteers are needed to dig holes, plant shrubs & flowers, rake, mulch, water plants, disperse seed & pull weeds.

 

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Kristie Nackord

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Poet and conservationist Gary Snyder once said: “Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”

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Hal Walter

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This year San Isabel Land Protection Trust celebrates its 20th birthday. Two decades is quite an accomplishment for a small organization with big ambitions. Paradoxically, the success of San Isabel and other land trusts is defined as much by what doesn’t happen, as what does.

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A local featured artist and a special display by a noted photojournalist will highlight the 19th Art for the Sangres on September 26 at A Painted View Ranch in Westcliffe.

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Two celebrity athlete-writers — including a New York Times best-selling author — will be participating in the Hardscrabble Mountain Trail Run at Bear Basin Ranch near Westcliffe on June 7.

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Spring has certainly sprung here in the Wet Mountain Valley. Nobody leaves the house without plenty of layers in case a warm spell morphs quickly into a water-replenishing snow storm. Calves cavort in every pasture while ranchers run on little to no sleep making sure calving season goes off without a hitch. Mountain mahogany and wax currant bushes sport brand new buds of greenery, hay fields are carpeted with emerald green, and even the cloud formations are starting to look more like summer than winter.

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Pronghorn are widespread in the Wet Mountain Valley. We have the pleasure of seeing them often. A small band of females have their regular birthing grounds not far from our house in the cool spring grasses, hiding their new fawns in the lush greenery while they graze far away in order to lure predators from the vulnerable babies. The fawns blend so well that we’ve inadvertently come too close a time or two as we enjoyed a leisurely walk with our dogs on a warm spring evening. I’m not sure if the fawn is more startled or if we are as it explodes from its nest, racing away as we watch, the dogs trembling with excitement by our sides.

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Last week we posted an update on the SNOTEL reports for snowpack in the San Isabel region. Since then portions of the mountains have received 3.9 inches of precipitation, which is probably well over 3 feet of snow.

 

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Posted in Water & Weather

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, a program promoting public trust and ensuring permanence in the conservation of American lands, announced last week that Westcliffe-based San Isabel Land Protection Trust has received renewed Accreditation status. In 2009, San Isabel was one of the first land trusts in the nation to receive their initial accreditation.

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Kristie Nackord

Posted in News

San Isabel welcomes Martin Aksentowitz, our new Americorps/VISTA volunteer!

Martin was raised in Phoenix, spending much of his youth playing in the ponderosa pine forests in Northern Arizona. He graduated in 2008 with a BA in History, and minor in Anthropology. After graduation, Martin served his first term in AmeriCorps with the Northern Arizona Conservation Corps on a trail crew. His experience there led him to join the Peace Corps, where he served in Moldova as a Health Education in Schools and Communities volunteer. Upon returning in Fall 2013, he enrolled in the Master of Forestry program at Michigan Technological University, and finished in Fall 2014.

 

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The historic Stewart Thoroughbred Horse Ranch located in Colorado City, in the Greenhorn Valley, has been protected, forever, with a conservation easement held by San Isabel Land Protection Trust. Thanks to the MacCormack family who donated the conservation easement to the Land Trust, this action ensures that the land will continue to be used as a horse and agricultural property as it has been for over 50 years.

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Last weekend’s storm brought welcome relief to the scant snowpack in the San Isabel region. The NRCS SNOTEL at the South Colony site in the Sangre de Cristo Range shows 1.9 inches of snow water equivalent, and about 2 feet of snow. Snow water equivalent measures the water content in the snow to give a more accurate assessment of snowpack. As most Coloradans know, the snow in April is much wetter and heavier than the snow in January. As such, the snow water equivalent in a foot of snow in April would probably be higher than a foot of snow in January.

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Posted in Water & Weather

Sensitive issues such as money, death, and family relations are often challenging topics to talk about and often they will be avoided. However, passing on one’s life work is important and critical to the success of the farm and ranch business. It is imperative that families discuss, plan and document a good succession and estate plan to ensure their ranch or farming legacy continues. This issue is so important that the USDA Risk Management Agency is funding CSU’s efforts to help Colorado’s farmers and ranchers.

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This land has taught me to work hard, be helpful, and never give up. ~Hayley Tezak

20-year old, Hayley Tezak is part of a new generation making its voice heard from rural Colorado. Born and raised in Coaldale, Colorado, a small agricultural town in western Fremont County, Hayley was raised on the Benton Family Homestead - - her family-owned ranch founded in the 1870’s. While attending college in Pueblo, away from the land and community she loves, Hayley finds peace when she returns on the weekends to the ranch. It is here in Coaldale that Hayley developed a passion and love for the outdoors, for the wildlife sharing her home, and for working together with her family raising cattle and hay, and for the members of her community that live in this valley.

Today, Hayley joins us as a guest and offers us a unique and refreshing perspective on the specialness of rural Colorado.

 

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Two years ago we had a vision of sharing the wide open spaces and fabulous views of the Southern Colorado mountains in a special event that would showcase the importance of protecting land for future generations. This event, the Hardscrabble Mountain Trail Run, was born from this idea. It proved to be an immediate hit with runners and walkers of all ages and abilities. Now in its third year, it is one of the premiere sporting events in Colorado.

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In December 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court announced its opinion on the change of water use case involving the H20 Ranch.[ii]  The H2O Ranch was historically one of the most productive hay ranches in the Wet Mountain Valley with excellent water rights. In 2007, the city of Fountain and Widefield Water and Sanitation District (“Widefield”) purchased the H20 Ranch with the intent to dry-up the H2O Ranch and change the water rights to municipal use (“buy and dry”). A change of use case was filed in Water Court Division 2, and has been in litigation ever since.

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Posted in Water & Weather

San Isabel Land Protection Trust was awarded an $8,000 grant by the Colorado Garden Foundation to further beautify and enhance The Bluff Park, located at the west end of Main Street in Westcliffe. Plans for the money will include the planting of perennial, drought-tolerant flower and shrub gardens to complete the landscaping at the Park.

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It seems to me extraordinary luck that my daughters’ early years are taking place here in an aspen grove on a protected ranch in the Wet Mountain Valley.

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Ben Lenth

Posted in News

This season we at San Isabel Land Protection Trust give thanks,
and offer gratitude for the many gifts we have.

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Earlier this year, San Isabel received ownership of The Bluff Park through a generous donation by Dick and Audrey Stermer.  The Bluff is a scenic and popular park located a block from Westcliffe's downtown commercial district, providing an unobstructed window onto the Wet Mountain Valley from town. 

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Nestled between the 14,000 foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the west and the rugged Wet Mountains to the east, the HG Vickerman Ranch is a productive agricultural operation dating back nearly a century.

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On Saturday, September 27, Wet Mountain Valley residents and other guests attended the 18th Annual Art for the Sangres event at A Painted View Ranch in Westcliffe. The annual gala is San Isabel Land Protection Trust’s largest fundraiser of the year. Organizers of the event report that the show exceeded all expectations and sold over $131,000 in artwork.  Last year’s event grossed $114,000. An estimated 200 guests attended the Saturday paid reception.

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San Isabel Land Protection Trust honored longtime supporter and Westcliffe resident Dianne Whalen with the 2nd Annual Alice Proctor Outstanding Volunteer Award during its annual Beer and Brats appreciation barbecue at Texas Creek Ranch on Sunday.

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“We’re all connected together. If one sells their water, it affects us all.”

--Frank Mc Murray, Chaffee County Rancher

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 “It is important that people understand the importance of agricultural water. It is the basis for a sustainable food supply, provides for wildlife habitat, and helps create the scenic vistas we enjoy. Agricultural water is a part of our heritage, as well as our culture today. It is at the core of our environmental goals and economy and we need to use all of the various tools available to keep water in agriculture while at the same time allowing owners of water rights to realize its monetary value.” ~ Keith Hood



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San Isabel Land Protection Trust is thrilled to share the news that it has received ownership of the Bluff Park parcels at the end of Main Street. These two parcels, totaling 5.3 acres, comprise most of the lawn area for the park, the site of this week’s High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass festival. The property was donated to the Land Trust by Richard and Audrey Stermer, whose vision for The Bluff has culminated in last year’s expansion and renovation, and now in transfer of the property to San Isabel.

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Agriculture, water, and wide open spaces define Colorado. They are the reasons I moved here from Northern California nearly 8 years ago. Where I live in Western Fremont County as well as where I work in Custer County, active ranching and large, undeveloped landscapes still exist. Water still runs with the land and multi-generational families continue to steward the ranches and farms that provide us food, habitat for wildlife, clean water and air and scenic beauty that we all enjoy.

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We mourn the passing of our dear friend, Paul Snyder, on January 12, 2014. Paul was a long time supporter of land conservation and a tremendous friend to San Isabel Land Protection Trust.  He was passionate about conservation, about people, and about the land, and his distinguished career left the world a better place in more ways than any of us know. We echo the words of one of our own founders, Bill Jack "I've seldom met anyone who had the combination of great intelligence, grace, warmth, and general wisdom as (Paul) did."

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