FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2016
For More Information Contact:
Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director, 565-1664 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Critical habitat on the West End of San Miguel County set aside forever.
On October 25th, a critical expanse of land east of Egnar was protected forever by the Marsh Family, in partnership with Montezuma Land Conservancy. With its rolling sage landscape surrounded by vast tracts of BLM land, this scenic property embodies the still rugged and wide-open nature of San Miguel County’s West End.
The approximately 1,680-acre property sits just east of Egnar along the BLM lands that stretch out from the Dolores River. Historically owned by the Washburn family, the property was recently purchased by the Marsh family and placed under conservation easement through a partnership with Montezuma Land Conservancy. The most recent transaction is the second phase of a multi-year deal that total, protects just over 3,000 acres of land split between Dolores and San Miguel counties. The protection of this historic cattle property helps ensure that the very essence of the scenic country surrounding Egnar and Dove Creek will remain that way long into the future.
In speaking about his reasons for protecting the property, easement grantor Richard Marsh said,
“This conservation easement is a way to keep the land together and from being further subdivided. I’d rather it grow big game and sage grouse than houses.”
The property is critical to a wide array of wildlife. Its southern reaches protect occupied Gunnison sage-grouse habitat while the entirety of the property is mapped as winter habitat for elk. The multi-year transaction was made possible by funding from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, San Miguel County, Dolores County, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Over the past few years, Montezuma Land Conservancy has worked with landowners in western Dolores and San Miguel counties to protect working dryland farms, important wildlife habitat, and scenic open space and as has now set aside nearly 6,500 acres. A majority of those acres protect occupied habitat for the Gunnison sage-grouse – a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
40 percent of the remaining Gunnison Sage-grouse habitat for our local population is found on public Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The other 60% is on private land. “Working with local partners such as MLC as well as the counties is vital to ensuring habitat is preserved for the Gunnison Sage-grouse and other species in the Dove Creek area,” said Nate West, BLM wildlife biologist. “We appreciate MLC’s conservation efforts, and look forward to continuing our efforts to preserve natural resources on our public lands.”
Since 1998, Montezuma Land Conservancy has partnered with local landowners to complete 84 conservation easements that protect 43,858 acres in Montezuma, Dolores, and San Miguel counties. Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements that landowners use to protect important agricultural land, wildlife habitat, and scenic open space by limiting subdivision and residential development. Lands remain in private ownership and management, and public access is not required. Financial benefits can include reduction in state, federal, and estate taxes and continued agricultural property tax status. In certain cases, landowners may receive cash for protecting their land. For more information, call MLC at 565-1664.