CPW approves Moffat County conservation easement

Winter range for elk, mule deer, pronghorn protected on 15,000-acre ranch near Maybell

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“Preserving wildlife habitat is just one of our management challenges, but is among our most important. With acquisitions like this one, we ensure that we will continue to have viable wildlife populations for our future generations.”

Ron Velarde, regional manager of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, about the acquisition of a conservation easement on Tuttle Ranch near Maybell

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission last week approved a perpetual conservation easement on 15,000 acres in Moffat County, the agency announced in a news release.

Consisting of sagebrush steppe, foothills grassland and pinyon-juniper woodlands, the Tuttle Ranch near Maybell is home to the greater sage grouse and provides winter range for elk, mule deer and pronghorn.

The purchase from RSH Land Company, LLC, using funds from CPW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Great Outdoors Colorado, will protect critical wildlife habitat while permitting continued ranching operations, according to the release.

“When habitat is preserved, wildlife benefits, and all of us benefit too,” said Bill de Vergie, area wildlife manager in Meeker, in the release. “There are plenty of challenges out there to wildlife habitat — all kinds of development that can raise issues — but the cooperative approach of conservation easements is a way we can work with landowners to protect habitat.”

Because habitat loss is considered a primary cause for the decline of many wildlife species in Colorado its preservation is critical, especially during the winter months when big game animals are in search of any available forage at lower elevations, the release stated.

“Preserving wildlife habitat is just one of our management challenges, but is among our most important,” said Ron Velarde, CPW regional manager, in the release. “With acquisitions like this one, we ensure that we will continue to have viable wildlife populations for our future generations.”

CPW manages 42 state parks and more than 300 state wildlife areas.

GOCO, approved by voters in 1992, receives approximately half of the state’s lottery proceeds — $57 million in 2012 — and awards grants to local governments and land trusts for outdoors projects.

Since 1994 nearly 3,500 projects in all 64 counties have received GOCO funding assistance.

For more information on the Tuttle Ranch conservation easement, visit CPW’s Land & Water web site.

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com

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