Colorado: Conservation easement on 15,000-acre Moffat County ranch to protect critical big game winter range

Pronghorn antelope foraging in sagebrush habitat near Gunnison Colorado. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

GOCO, feds and state pitch in on major conservation deal

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A new conservation easement on the 15,000-acre Tuttle Ranch in Moffat County will help protect important wildlife habitat and winter range while allowing ranching operations to continue.

The ranch encompasses sagebrush steppe, foothills grassland and pinyon-juniper woodlands, with habitat for greater sage-grouse and critical winter range for elk, mule deer and pronghorn.

The conservation easement was purchased from the RSH Land Company LLC, with a combination of funds from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and lottery-funded Great Outdoors Colorado.

“When habitat is preserved, wildlife benefits, and all of us benefit, too,” said Meeker-based Bill de Vergie, area wildlife managerFor Colorado Parks and Wildife. “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.”

Habitat loss is a primary cause for the decline of many wildlife species in Colorado. Protecting lower elevation winter range is crucial for the state’s big game herds.

“Preserving wildlife habitat is just one of our management challenges, but is among our most important,” said Ron Velarde, Regional Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “With acquisitions like this one, we ensure that we will continue to have viable wildlife populations for our future generations.”

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