Colorado natives S.J. (Arch) and Bonnie Archuleta wanted to preserve their farmland on East Orchard Mesa for future generations, and also to provide a new land-use planning model for residential development in the community. In an attempt to preserve the scenic and agricultural character of the land, and to accommodate the valley’s growing population, the Archuletas placed an agricultural conservation easement on nearly 80 acres of their property – preserving in perpetuity the future site of Bonnie Brook Vineyards and creating the largest conservation easement in the eastern part of the Grand Valley.
The Archuleta’s purchased the 160-acre property in 1998 from third generation farmers of the land and wished to preserve all of the irrigable land for agricultural production. The Archuletas plan to change the historical farming use of the land from peaches, potatoes, and beans to wine grape vineyards as well as develop a winery on the site.
Under the terms of a series of conservation easements, the Archuletas prohibited additional residential development on all of the arable farmland they own, over 70 acres. In a separate conservation agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Archuletas protected an additional 40 acres of wildlife habitat and open space. Off of the irrigable land and outside of the conservation easement, the Archuletas will develop fifteen home sites on agriculturally nonproductive land. Restricting development and clustering the fifteen homesites on their parcel will allow for the preservation of valuable agricultural land, wildlife habitat and open space.
The project protects one of largest remaining blocks of farmland remaining in the Palisade area. It also offers a positive alternative to cookie-cutter, farmland-consuming development and serves as an example of good land-use planning to the development community. Cluster subdivision, the term used for clustering homesites or placing them in near proximity, in combination with conservation easements, takes into consideration the future management or stewardship of the parcel. It is a planning tool that is being used increasingly by land use planners to conserve valuable natural resource.
MCLC, [now Colorado West Land Trust], applauds the Archuletas for donating the agricultural conservation easement and is pleased to accept the easement. The agricultural conservation easement preserves some of the best farmland in the area. Bonnie Brook Vineyards stands as an innovative model for other developers and the community at large.
20 Years Later: Bonnie Brook Update
Salvador Juan Antonio “Arch” Archuleta passed away on February 9th, 2020. Thanks to his and Bonnie’s desire to preserve their farmland on East Orchard Mesa, the property remains productive ag land as part of the Fuller Orchards operation in Palisade. The Fullers purchased the property in 2012 and planted peach trees shortly thereafter, allowing the family to expand their successful fruit-growing business while honoring the original conservation easement placed by the Archuletas in 2000.
Today, the Land Trust has conserved 2,000 acres of land in the Palisade area and in Delta County’s North Fork region suitable for growing fruit, including peaches, wine grapes, cherries, apricots, plums, and apples. This irrigated farmland, which is forever preserved, will help sustain a critical mass of ag land in western Colorado that will be available for generations to come.