Land Deal Supports Conservation and Empowers Future Ranchers
Smokey Rim Ranch in southeastern Colorado will be protected by a conservation easement
Kim, Colorado | February 03, 2014
The Nature Conservancy and a local family are celebrating an innovative conservation land deal that enables future generations to pursue ranching while promoting conservation and education throughout southeastern Colorado. Lifelong residents of Kim, Colorado – Everett and Florence Jackson – have purchased the 33,000-acre Maverick Ranch from The Nature Conservancy. The ranch is adjacent to their current home and will be renamed the Smokey Rim Ranch.
The Nature Conservancy will put a conservation easement on the ranch, which is a voluntary, legally binding tool that places limits on certain land uses to protect its natural values while preventing development.
“Most people are familiar with how a conservation easement works in limiting development such as subdivisions, says Matt Moorhead, the Conservancy’s Southeast Colorado program director. “But, this easement is unique in that it creates opportunities and access for learning and science. With hard work and a little luck, it can become a living laboratory for local students and agricultural programs where young people can study land management and science.”
The Smokey Rim Ranch’s 33,000-acres include pinon-juniper woodlands, foothills, shrublands and grasslands. Globally, grasslands face enormous challenges; however, Nature Conservancy scientists have identified this area one of the largest stretches of intact and functional of grasslands in all of North America.
“Despite the drought, many ranches in southeast Colorado are in good condition, thanks to generations of careful land management by landowners and ranchers, like the Jacksons,” says Tim Sullivan, Colorado’s state director. “Together, we’re building a sustainable and bright future.”
Everett and Flo Jackson have deep roots in this community. Their families came to the area in the early 1900’s. “Everett’s lived next to the ranch his whole life. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think the day would come. We want our great grandchildren to have the chance to carry on the family tradition. It means a lot to our family and we’re proud of making this happen with The Nature Conservancy,” adds Flo Jackson.
In addition to its agricultural values, the Smokey Rim Ranch is home to scenic canyons, hidden seeps and springs, and special birds, such as the gray vireo and wildlife populations including elk and antelope. There is also a rich cultural and archeological heritage here, which piques Everett’s interest. “He’s a walking history book and is always ready to explore and learn from the land,” remarks Moorhead.
As part of the deal, the Conservancy will obtain ownership of the Jackson’s Lazy UO Ranch, again planning to resell the property as an operating ranch. The Jacksons will drive cattle from the Lazy UO Ranch to the Smokey Rim Ranch to mark the beginning of a new chapter.
This project was supported by Great Outdoors Colorado, which invests a portion of lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife and open space.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.