One Landowner's Perspective
Grant Thayer, owner of the Jumping Cow Ranch, explains why conservation easements are a valuable tool.
The large expanses of prairie on Jumping Cow Ranch are home to both cattle and wildlife.
On the Jumping Cow Ranch, you may be disappointed to find all cattle with their hooves planted firmly on the rolling prairie. However, look closely at this lush landscape, and you may witness a bounding Swift fox, hopping burrowing owl or leaping plains leopard frog.
The Conservancy completed phase two of an ambitious conservation project by completing a second conservation easement on the Jumping Cow Ranch—bringing the total number of protected acres on the property to over 19,000. Success was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the landowner and funding from Great Outdoors Colorado and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Grasslands are the most threatened and least protected habitat type on earth—with only 2% protected globally and less then 5% protected in the United States. One of the biggest challenges to prairie conservation is that many grassland species and ecological functions require large unfragmented tracts of land.
The Jumping Cow Ranch, in Elbert County, hosts unbroken wildlife corridors and expanses of prairie large enough to support wide-ranging species such as pronghorn antelope. Located within the Big Sandy Conservation Area, 40 miles east of Castle Rock, the ranch’s unique mix of habitats benefit greatly from higher than average rainfall and cooler temperatures. The Jumping Cow Ranch, named after a particularly pesky cow that could not seem to stay on the correct side of the fence, is a thriving, and now protected, ecosystem.
The 2.1-million-acre Peak to Prairie region, identified as a conservation priority by the Colorado Conservation Partnership, is facing many challenges—rapid urban growth, changing land use, and the difficulty maintaining a working agricultural heritage in an increasingly fragmented landscape.
The Peak to Prairie Priority Landscape is currently home to 723,000 Coloradans. Without care and attention, the magic of the this region—green irrigated farms and ranches, stands of cottonwood and willow trees along rivers, contrasted with the golden upland prairie—could easily vanish.March 27, 2013