The 73-acre Garratt conservation easement was completed in 2013 achieving a long-standing goal of Julia and Michael Garratt. The conservation easement includes fields and a portion of the West Fork of Stinking Springs Canyon protecting open space and relatively natural habitat. The Garratt’s have been interested in conservation easements for thirty years and were thrilled to see Montezuma Land Conservancy start and thrive in southwest Colorado. They were even more excited to own enough land to be able to complete their own conservation easement with MLC.
Julia is a fourth generation Coloradan. Her great grandfather was one of the founders of the Great Western Sugar Company headquartered in Loveland Colorado. Julia has always loved Colorado and was particularly drawn to southwest Colorado because of her interest in archaeology. The Garratt’s purchased their first 43-acre parcel in 1993. They purchased the remaining 30 acres in 2006. The original owner of the 43-acre tract, James Wood, received the land under the General Land Offer Act which was signed into law on June 1, 1911 by President Taft. The Garratts are only the 6th owners of the property.
The property is a mix of agricultural fields and pinon-juniper habitat in the West Fork of Stinking Spring Canyon. The conservation easement includes both canyon rims. Irrigation water from neighboring properties runs down into the canyon providing a source of water for wildlife. The Old Spanish Trail runs through the property. The Trail was historically used as a mail route. Mail from the San Luis Valley would travel to Mancos first coming over Stony Pass and dropping down to Silverton before arriving at the Mancos post office and continuing on across the property in route to Dolores. The property also contains numerous archaeological sites.
The property is mapped by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) as bald eagle winter range, BFT bat overall range, elk limited use area, elk overall range, elk winter range, Gunnison prairie dog overall range, mountain lion overall range, mule deer resident population, mule deer summer range, mule deer winter range, turkey overall range. It is less than a quarter mile from mapped elk severe winter range and a mule deer migration corridor. Julia and Michael regularly see elk and deer in the fields in front of their house. Julia once counted 114 elk in the field in late November. They have also seen bobcats, badgers, hawks, and a plethora of other wildlife. The wildlife values were one of the Garratt’s primary reasons for completing the conservation easement “We feel like we’re preserving a piece of a wildlife corridor. We would like to be an anchor property and see others have contiguous conservation easements” says Julia. Ideally, they envision a block of conservation easements stretching from the West Fork of Stinking Springs Canyon to Cache Canyon.
The Garratt’s worked with NRCS on native species vegetation restoration on the property. To Julia’s surprise the cheap grass eradication was successful and the newly planted native grasses and forbs have come in well. The wildlife, particularly the elk and deer, seem to appreciate the new plantings and are frequently on the property year-round staying in the canyon during the day and coming up to graze in the field in the evenings.
Julia and Michael are very proud of their property and their conservation easement. As Julia says “Michael and I are passionate about preserving land and keeping developers out.” Julia is now an active member of MLC’s board.