Cattle grazing
Colorado Cattle Cattle grazing © Terri Schulz/The Nature Conservancy

Stories in Colorado

Sustainable Grazing in Colorado

Protecting grasslands and feeding a growing population.

The iconic grasslands of Colorado provide a home for wildlife and support a ranching lifestyle that is ingrained in our state’s heritage. However, our grazing lands face many challenges. The hotter and drier conditions projected to result from climate change will likely make it more difficult to conserve these lands for people and nature in the years ahead.

To address these challenges, The Nature Conservancy has established a Sustainable Grazing Lands Program. We are developing science-based solutions to advance grazing practices that meet the needs of ranchers who own and manage these lands and help sustain the many plants and animals that call this landscape home.

Ranchers are working with the Conservancy to develop, test and share tools to adapt management and monitoring plans for grazing operations. These tools will help them improve the economic production of their lands, increase their ecological value, and sustain the health and wellbeing of wildlife.

The Conservancy has four test sites for this work throughout eastern Colorado, including at the JE Canyon Ranch and Fox Ranch preserves.

The lessons learned from the test sites are helping to refine our understanding of how to continuously improve and adapt grazing systems, fence and stock water facilities, financial management tools and knowledge-sharing to improve outcomes for nature and for ranching businesses and communities.

“We are confident that over time this will improve real livelihoods for people and the habitats on which wildlife depend,” says William Burnidge, the Conservancy’s sustainable grazing lands program director.