San Isabel partners to protect Taylor-Oswald Ranch

San Isabel Land Protection Trust, the Trust for Public Land, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Great Outdoors Colorado and the Natural Resources Conservation Service have partnered to protect the 2,727- acre Taylor-Oswald Ranch, a working ranch next to the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness in Fremont County.


Steve and Nancy Oswald

The conservation easement placed on the property permanently protects its significant wildlife corridors, water resources and scenic vistas from U.S. 50. The ranch includes 122 acres of productive irrigated meadows and native wetlands and miles of Arkansas River tributaries. It provides habitat for bird species of concern, such as bald eagle, ferruginous hawk, willow flycatcher and prairie falcon. The property also is home to both summer and winter concentration of elk and mule deer, as well as pronghorn, wild turkey, mountain lion, black bear and bobcat.

Steve and Nancy Oswald own and manage the ranch that has been in Nancy’s family for more than 60 years. The Taylor family history can be traced all the way back to her great grandparents, who began ranching about 10 miles away along Texas Creek in the late 1800s. Today, the Oswald ranching operation includes marketing natural grass fed beef to consumers and promoting sustainable, profitable agriculture.

“The ability to donate and protect this land recognizes the generations of hard-working people who came before us,” said Steve and Nancy Oswald. “Our hope is that others will be able to continue the traditions of agriculture and land stewardship for years to come.”

Great Outdoors Colorado awarded San Isabel $525,000 to help protect the ranch, and NRCS provided $1 million in funding for the project.

“We are very excited to be a part of the Taylor-Oswald conservation easement," said Larry Vickerman, president of the San Isabel Board of Directors. “The ranch provides an excellent example of regenerative management that we can all learn from and aspire to. Their innovative grazing and forestry programs, direct marketing of grass-fed beef and low-tech riparian restoration projects increase the sustainability of their operation and demonstrate that conservation, including easements, helps ensure long-term viability of agricultural operations throughout Colorado.”

Clint Evans, NRCS State Conservationist in Colorado, said, “It is possible for ranching operations to thrive, even in drought conditions. The Taylor-Oswald Family’s operation is a shining example of what’s possible. Their unconventional weed management, grazing, and forestry practices, as well as the grass-fed programs compliment their traditional riparian restoration efforts.  It’s a high-quality operation with mostly native plants and grasses and minimal invasive species. All of which are important to the host of wildlife, threatened an endangered species, birds of conservation concern, and species of greater conservation need found throughout the landscape.”

Carrie Kasnicka, project manager for The Trust for Public Land, said, “The Upper Arkansas Valley is home to amazing natural resources and our goal is to use the protection of the Taylor-Oswald Ranch to inspire future conservation projects in the region,” said “Preserving this land both honors the legacy of agriculture in the region and preserves an important native ecosystem.”

Erik Glenn, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust executive director, said, “It has been an honor to work with Steve and Nancy on this important conservation project. The Oswald family’s commitment to Colorado and leadership in southern Colorado has brought attention to the important resources – natural and cultural – of this unique part of the state. Conserving the Taylor-Oswald Ranch builds on the growing agriculture and conservation legacy of the Oswald family and many other families along the Arkansas River who have committed to conserving their farms and ranches for the benefit of future generations of Coloradans.”

Jackie Miller, GOCO executive director, said, “Congrats to project partners, the Oswald family, and our fellow Coloradans, as we all benefit from this conservation victory in the Upper Arkansas Valley. Local residents, Coloradans traveling by, and wildlife passing through will reap the benefits for years to come.”

About San Isabel Land Protection Trust

San Isabel is a nationally accredited land trust, whose mission is to keep the San Isabel region forever wild and beautiful, with abundant wildlife, sustainable agriculture, flowing water and thriving rural communities.

About The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit

About The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust 

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust is a nonprofit land conservation organization whose mission is to “...protect Colorado's agricultural land, heritage and families for future generations by conserving working rural landscapes.” Visit for more information.

About Great Outdoors Colorado 

Great Outdoors Colorado invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,400 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit for more information.

About the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance to help agricultural producers and others care for the land. The Agency prioritizes conservation planning and uses conservation programs in the Farm Bill to implement most of its efforts including the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program which is designed to protect the agricultural viability, grazing uses and related conservation values of prime agricultural land by limiting nonagricultural uses of that land.

Janet Smith

Posted in News

  • "My family put 720 acres under conservation easement in 2009. We did it to protect the integrity of the property and to help secure the water rights to the irrigated hay land in perpetuity. In this age of agricultural and economic uncertainty, conservation easements are the thing to do."

    – Larry Vickerman, executive director, Denver Botanic Gardens, Chatfield