Field Notes

wide expansive view of the valley. rolling sagebrush, pinon, and juniper hills.

August 18, 2023

Hensley Conservation Easement Closes

On August 18, 2023, Montezuma Land Conservancy (MLC) and local landowners Lonnie and Karen Hensley closed on our newest conservation easement. The Hensley easement encompasses 506 acres of rolling sagebrush, pinon, and juniper hills bordering Mesa Verde National Park on the western escarpment.

The project additionally includes a second 328-acre parcel of forest and meadows bordering the San Juan National Forest and the previously conserved Nature Center at Butler Corner, north of Dolores. Because both newly conserved parcels lie adjacent to existing protected landscapes, this project is a big win for local conservation, helping to ensure the preservation of expanded wildlife habitat and migration corridors that are critical to the survival of a variety of species including mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, turkey, and a number of species of birds that are listed on Colorado’s threatened and endangered species list.

Beyond the benefits to wildlife, this easement will forever conserve agricultural resiliency on these lands, as well as the iconic viewshed seen by the more than 600,000 people that visit here annually to marvel at the wonders of Mesa Verde National Park. Our deepest thanks go to those who have made this project possible: the visionary landowners, Lonnie and Karen Hensley, as well as Keep It Colorado and the Gates Family Foundation who provided significant financial support through their conservation easement transaction cost assistance grant programs.

MLC is incredibly honored to be a part of this project and to have been entrusted with the ongoing stewardship of these lands in perpetuity. MLC now holds a total of 91 conservation easements protecting well over 47,000 acres of open space, wildlife habitat, public access trails, and agricultural lands throughout Montezuma, Dolores, and San Miguel counties.

Landowners interested in more information about conserving their land are always encouraged to contact us to learn more.