Middle Park Land Trust honors Granby landowners for conservation | SkyHiNews.com

Middle Park Land Trust honors Granby landowners for conservation

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

Middle Park Land Trust presented its annual “Land Stewardship of the Year Award” to a group of five adjacent landowners on 210 acres near Granby.

As neighbors, the individual owners came together for a common cause in the name of land conservation that will protect historic agricultural practices, wildlife habitat, view corridors as well as water quality and quantity.

The landowners include the Leahbeth Barnard Family, Bill and Vicki Bluedorn, Maurice Sharp, Sandy Panagini and Dr. Mike Brooks.

Their properties are located on CR 57, just south of Windy Gap Reservoir.

“We all tied in the water rights to the easement,” said Brooks. “We are on the same irrigation ditch, so we’re all pretty in tune with each other. We cooperate with how we share water.”

Collectively, the group has senior rights to 16 cfs of water in the Fraser River dating to 1881. Theirs is the last diversion before Windy Gap.

In drought years, such as in 2002 when the river was running at a low 2.4 cfs, the group could keep its share of flows in the Fraser to the Colorado River. Since the rights are part of the conservation easement, the easement promotes river health in perpetuity.

“The Valley flora is like a big sponge, and if you recharge that sponge each year, you’re going to have a healthy ecosystem,” Brooks said.

Among wildlife, the land is common to elk, geese, snipe and duck.

The lands retain their agricultural status, with hay meadows and pasture.

“I can look at my neighbor’s place and the other’s three and know that it’s never going to be changed,” Brooks said.

Through the use of conservation easements facilitated by the Middle Park Land Trust, the group collectively protected as a landscape much of what was the original Barnard Ranch that John B. Barnard bought in 1922. In taking part in the easements, each owner obtained tax credits.

“The perpetuity was the attractiveness of it because it allows for preserving the property beyond my lifetime,” said Maurice Sharp, who has owned his property since 1992.

Each year, the Middle Park Land Trust recognizes Grand County landowners who most exemplify the mission of good land management and sound conservation practices.

“The citizens of Grand County and the Middle Park Land Trust thank the individual landowners for preserving a beautiful area of this community and making Grand County a better place to live,” said MPLT Executive Director Billy Summerlin.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.