South-central Colorado: near the town of Mosca in the San Luis Valley
The ranch is not far from the Great Sand Dunes National Park, site of the tallest sand dunes in North America.
Why The Conservancy Selected This Site
Because it provides landscape-scale conservation of a biologically significant area containing several rare animal and plant species - some found nowhere else in the world.
What The Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
In 1999, The Nature Conservancy made conservation history by acquiring this preserve, its largest in Colorado.
The Conservancy manages the ranches for two reasons: to protect their significant natural values and to demonstrate how cattle and bison operations can co-exist with conservation efforts.
Staff at the Zapata Ranch focus on:
- Conducting naturalist workshops,
- Scientific research, and
- Operating a cattle and bison ranch.
What to See
Slender spiderflower - one of the world's largest populations
- Ant-like flower beetle (found nowhere else on Earth!)
- Circus beetle
- Giant sand treader camel cricket
- Great Sand Dunes tiger beetle (found nowhere else on Earth!)
- Histerid beetle
Wetlands here provide habitat for numerous bird species such as
- American bitterns
- Sandhill cranes (during spring and fall migrations), and
- White-faced ibis (rare).
Birds: Other species
- Ferruginous hawk
- Sage sparrow