July 26, 2012
A conservation easement of approximately 90,000 acres in Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains bordering the San Luis Valley will provide the foundation for the new Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is establishing.
Louis Bacon, owner of the Blanca and Trinchera ranches in the San Luis Valley, is donating the easement.
The diverse landscapes of the ranches feature high desert shrubs and mountain grasslands, and alpine forest and tundra. The area includes the 14,345-foot Blance Peak and is in the center of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range (the longest mountain chain in the U.S,), bordering the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the land is the largest single conservation easement donated to USFWS.
The Trinchera Ranch is protected by an easement administered by Colorado Open Lands. The donation, said Bacon, will protect all 172,000 acres of the ranch.
The donation is part of the federal government’s Great Outdoors initiative establishing voluntary partnerships with landowners to conserve rural landscapes while ensuring that ranching and farming continue.
The USFWS has been working with San Luis Valley landowners on a cooperative partnership effort to conserve wildlife habitat. The Bacon donation is part of the USFWS’ San Luis Valley Land Protection Plan.
The USFWS will manage the new conservation area as part of the National Wildlife Refuge system