Sheep farmer who died in ATV crash was dedicated to industry, children |

Sheep farmer who died in ATV crash was dedicated to industry, children

Matt Stensland
John Wade Bartmann

— The Greeley man who died in an all-terrain vehicle accident last week in North Routt County is remembered as a hard-working sheep farmer who was dedicated to educating future generations.

An autopsy showed John Wade Bartmann, 50, died of positional asphyxiation in the crash, which is thought to have occurred Aug. 17. The crash was discovered two days later by sheepherders working for Bartmann. He was running supplies to the sheep grazing operation in the Routt National Forest. The crash was found about 11 miles northeast of Columbine off Forest Service Road 550 near Whiskey Park, close to the Wyoming border.

Bartmann was featured prominently in a December 2012 New York Times article that explored the struggles sheepherders face, such as an ongoing drought, rising costs and low sheep prices.

“For the sheep industry, it’s the perfect storm,” Bartmann told the Times. “The money is just not there.”

According to Bartmann’s obituary, he had been grazing sheep during the summer months in the Routt National Forest for more than 15 years. Bartmann bought 1,000 ewes in 1997 and got a grazing permit for an area between Steamboat Springs and Encampment, Wyoming.

“He loved his work with the sheep industry, and enjoyed the many pleasures of working in the great outdoors,” his obituary stated.

In 2006, Bartmann was honored as the Wool Grower of the Year by the Colorado Wool Growers Association.

With his wife, Sherry, Bartmann was very active in raising their two kids. For three years, he served as president of the Windsor Charter Academy

“He always said kids are our greatest investment, and he wanted to leave a legacy of learning for them, so he has been a key player in developing plans for a new WCA high school,” Bartmann’s obituary stated.

Bartmann also thought it was important to educate his kids about the family business.

“He had a passion for showing his kids the sheep business, and the weekends he spent with them working with sheep are favorite memories for the kids, whether it was hauling supplies to herders, shearing, docking, shipping lambs, building corrals, or even a little fishing or target shooting along the way,” Bartmann’s obituary stated. “Heading to sheepcamp was always the highlight of his week.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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