In December of 2015, Montezuma Land Conservancy partnered with a landowner to continue conserving important habitat for the Gunnison sage-grouse northeast of Dove Creek. The Washburn conservation easement protects 1,300 acres of critically important sage grouse habitat and builds on 1,373 adjacent acres already under conservation easement. When taken together, these easements provide the grouse with a solid block of privately conserved lands totaling nearly 3,000 acres and stretching for 4 miles.
The Washburn easement also protects nearly 6 miles of public land boundary, is critical winter habitat for elk and deer, and provides habitat for a multitude of sage-obligate species such as sage thrasher and sagebrush lizard. Like a vast majority of the conservation easements held by MLC, the Washburn easement also preserves agricultural resources; in this case a working cattle operation. The property is a stunning example of the landscape northeast of Dove Creek in a relatively natural state. With the exception of a few stock ponds that benefit both the cattle operation as well wildlife, the property is 1,300 acres of sage, pinion, juniper, and oak brush. The landowner reserved a single building area meaning that 99% of this property will remain open space available for agricultural use forever!
Since 2012, Montezuma Land Conservancy has partnered with five landowner families to conserve 4,703 acres of land surrounding Dove Creek – all with significant habitat for the gunninson sage grouse. While offering permanent protection for wildlife, these properties also remain productive agricultural lands – honoring the rural lifestyle and traditional use of land in western Dolores County.
In addition to the work and generosity of the landowner, this project was made possible by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the San Miguel County Commissioners.