A grant from Great Outdoors Colorado will aid in the conservation of 5,250 acres of E Bar Ranch in Elbert County. With the grant, the Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust will conserve four …
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A grant from Great Outdoors Colorado will aid in the conservation of 5,250 acres of E Bar Ranch in Elbert County.
With the grant, the Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust will conserve four parcels of native grasslands and riparian corridors at the ranch, according to a news release. The project builds on a growing effort toward landscape-level conservation in the area, protecting its unique agricultural heritage, wildlife habitat, and ecological features forever, the release said.
Several miles of Middle Bijou Creek, Wilson Creek, and Cattle Gulch run through the property, which serve as tributaries to the South Platte River and are essential to the overall watershed. The riparian areas provide habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, while also sustaining the livestock raised on the property.
Native short-grass prairie covers the majority of the property, and conservation will protect critical functions including erosion control, nutrient cycling, and water purification. Colorado has lost approximately 50 percent of its native prairie grasslands due to development, and it is a priority for many conservation groups to protect what remains of this landscape, the release said.
The ranch is in the Big Sandy Conservation Area and provides prairie habitat for species of concern including ferruginous hawk, mountain plover, and Western burrowing owl.
The ranch has been in operation since the mid-1800s, and the landowners are actively involved in local conservation efforts, the release said. Conserving the property provides the opportunity for the landowners to transition ranching operations to the next generation.
“CCALT partners with landowners across the state who are committed to conserving their land, family heritage, and the history rooted in the land for the benefit of all Coloradans,” Erik Glenn, executive director of the land trust, said in the release. “The landowners who steward the E Bar Ranch exemplify the conservation ethic that has long defined Colorado's agricultural community. CCALT is thrilled to partner with this family and GOCO on the conservation of this beautiful and productive Colorado ranch.”
The grant is part of GOCO's open space grant program, which funds private and public land conservation projects that give outdoor recreationists a place to play (or simply enjoy the view), protect wildlife habitat, safeguard the state's water supply and watersheds, and sustain local agriculture.
To date, GOCO has invested more than $4.9 million in projects in Elbert County and conserved more than 51,000 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported the conservation of Wilson Creek Ranch, the Elizabeth Trail System, and Big Sandy School Park, among other projects.
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 5,200 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for information.
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