Glade Park conservation protects habitat, ranch uses

The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction, February 5, 2020—

Critical land used by deer and elk, as well as a working ranch on Glade Park will all be protected under a newly announced Colorado West Land Trust conservation agreement.

“It’s an incredible property,” Colorado West Land Trust Director of Conservation Ilana Moir said. “It has a multitude of conservation values. It has working ranch land, wildlife habitat, potential for Gunnison sage grouse habitat, incredible views and its part of the larger landscape for deer and elk migration corridors.”

The 680-acre Johnson Ranch will be added to the nearly 50,000 acres of private ranchland that the land trust has conserved on Glade Park so far, according to the land trust. That conservation effort is intended to preserve the unique natural and agricultural characteristics of Glade Park.

“About 10 years ago we started a conservation planning effort and that looked at properties that we wanted to conserve based on habitat, where they were located, whether they were working farms and ranches,” Moir said. “A lot of properties on Glade Park actually came up through that priority planning. However, Bob Johnson came in to us without us pursuing them.”

Bob and Patti Johnson own the ranch along with their children Eric Johnson and his sister Lisa Mauser. The property sits on the south-facing rim of Unaweep Canyon, where mountain mahogany, conifers and aspens provide habitat for deer, elk, bear, mountain lions and other wildlife. It is also a working ranch, which Eric Johnson said is important to preserve as well.

“The Land Trust helped us preserve the property for a number of reasons — the wildlife habitat, the views, and so that this ranch can continue to serve as agricultural land in the future,” Johnson said. “Some of those reasons aren’t always talked about in conservation but are important. There has to be a balance between preservation and the dynamics of a location, meaning our solution is unique.”

Moir said each conservation agreement is different depending on the property and the wishes of the owners. It works with them to come up with an agreement that conserves habitat, but also allows for the current uses to continue.

“Every project that we do, we work hand in hand with landowners to make sure the conservation agreement works well for them now and into the future, so they have flexibility with how they manage the property,” Moir said.

Moir said the land trust secured grant funding from Great Outdoors Colorado and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to complete this project without having to raise additional money.

In addition to the habitat and ranching the natural beauty of the site is worth protecting, noted the land trust. The property is viewable from the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway and will now be protected from future development, while views from the ranch will also be preserved.

“You can look down into Unaweep Canyon toward Gateway and sometimes see out as far as the Blue and Henry Mountains in Utah,” Johnson said.

Article by Dan West