On June 30th one of the most scenic properties along the San Juan Skyway outside of Mancos was set aside as open space forever thanks to a conservation easement held by the Montezuma Land Conservancy.  The Schultz Elk and Cattle Ranch anchors the entryway to Mancos and now, thanks to the landowners foresight, future generations will appreciate the same scenic vista that we do today.
The approximately 225-acre property sits just south of the San Juan Skyway (Highway 160) east of Mancos and shares its southern boundary with Meneffee Mountain.  65-acres of lush hayfields greet drivers along the highway while the remainder of the property is comprised of native habitat of pinion juniper forest.  In recent years, the property has been used as elk ranch, which continues today.
Beyond the hay production and scenic qualities, the property is critical to a wide array of wildlife.  Its southern end backs into public land and a small pond provides water year-round for elk, lion, and other species.  Deer and other wide-ranging mammals cross the highway frequently moving to and from the San Juan National Forest and vast BLM lands south of the highway.
The project was made possible by the generous support of Great Outdoors Colorado through a new funding opportunity which aims to assist landowners wishing to donate their conservation easement while still receiving assistance to cover the transaction costs associated with completing a conservation easement.
The Schultz Elk and Cattle Ranch represents the 29th conservation easement in the Mancos Valley held by MLC, making the Valley by far the highest density area within Montezuma County when it comes to preserved land and conservation easements.  Mancos landowners recognize they have something special and continue to pursue partnerships with Montezuma Land Conservancy to protect the essence of what makes Mancos special.  From nearly any vantage point in Mancos, a conservation easement likely sits within view.
Since 1998, Montezuma Land Conservancy has partnered with local landowners to complete 87 conservation easements that protect 44,258 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.

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