Historic landscape in Southwest Colorado now permanently protected

Historic landscape in Southwest Colorado now permanently protected

July 28, 2020
The Journal

For 30 years, Tom Macy has been working to preserve a 65,000-acre swath of land in the Navajo River Watershed of Southwest Colorado. As the Western representative for The Conservation Fund, an environmental nonprofit, he has worked on many other projects in the country’s most scenic states.

But this landscape rose above the rest. And last week, the last portion of land was preserved under a perpetual conservation easement.

High snow-peaked mountains wrap around the watershed’s lush valley in Archuleta County filled with trees taller than what is typical for the otherwise arid region.

“It feels like a remote part of Alaska, or British Columbia,” Macy said.

The watershed is one of the last places that grizzly bears were seen in Colorado, and the streams on the land support the recovery of the San Juan strain of the Colorado cutthroat trout, which was presumed extinct for 100 years until it was rediscovered in the watershed in 2018.

Nestled in the valley are 10 working cattle ranches, which also offer hunting and fishing to visitors. The land includes the headwaters of the San Juan River, one of the biggest tributaries of the Colorado River.

“We’re proud to partner with The Conservation Fund, USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), Forest Service and owners of Banded Peak Ranch to conserve the myriad of ecological values on the ranch,” said Mike Lester, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service, in a news release.

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