The Fouts Ranch: Instilling Values by Protecting Land

When Jeremy and Candice Fouts signed the deed on a 1,707-acre ranch in Delta County, they had their children in mind. “We bought this property to make a deliberate lifestyle change and to do something together as a family,” Jeremy explains. “I grew up in eastern Oklahoma on a farm and ranch. A retired minister moved to my hometown from Delta, and he’s the one that taught me the love of hunting, fishing and being outdoors.” 

“I also learned a lot of life skills working on a farm—how to treat others, how to respect the land and wildlife—that’s what set me up to have a lot of financial success later in life,” he continues. “But it also made me realize that living in a gated subdivision would be a harder place for me to pass on those values to my boys.”  

The Fouts Ranch seems an ideal location for Jeremy and Candice to share their work ethic and love of the outdoors with their two sons, ages 9 and 11. They have over 200 red angus cattle, and work closely with Ashley Jackson-Baillie from the Montrose Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office to make their land as productive as possible, both for their livestock and the surrounding wildlife. 

“Anything you’d be looking for in a property, it has to offer,” Jeremy says. “There are two creeks with phenomenal trout fishing, scrub oak from around 7,500 to 9,800 feet in elevation, 400 acres of aspens, and beautiful bottom land with over 450 acres of irrigated land that we can use for hay crops and to provide wintering ground for game.” Further, their property adjoins BLM and National Forest land, which provides forage, cover, breeding grounds, and migration corridors for a diversity of wildlife, including many big game species.  

The harmony between productivity and preservation on the ranch was cultivated through careful planning by the whole family. “When we first bought this land, I thought it was pretty sad to look to the east and see subdivisions going in. I don’t want to fault anyone for wanting to get an acre in the mountains of Colorado, but as I look at everything that we want to do here, I think about my boys’ future,” says Jeremy. 

Together, the Foutses developed a 5-year plan for their property. After considering all that they hoped to accomplish, Jeremy and Candice decided to ensure that their land could never be subdivided. “I looked for the best land trust around—which we found in Colorado West Land Trust,” says Jeremy. “I want to say thank you to Julie Barger and Ilana Moir—they have been extremely diligent in teaching me the process and ensuring that everything happened smoothly. It’s a lengthy process, but the bottom line is that anyone considering a conservation easement should know that it was the best decision that I have made and it was truly worth the effort.” 

Candice and Jeremy (right) signing the closing documents for the conservation easement on their property.