CPW secures conservation easement for Coal Creek Ranch

MEEKER | Using funds from the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has acquired a perpetual conservation easement on the 1,121-acre Coal Creek Ranch in Rio Blanco County. The transaction also includes a 20-year access agreement that will allow for public fishing and limited, reservation-managed archery and muzzleloader hunting.

Coal Creek Ranch remains in private ownership and will continue as a working ranch operated by Michael and Tena Theos. The ranch is located on County Road 15 about 10 miles northeast of Meeker. The property has irrigated hay meadows, oakbrush, pinon-juniper woodlands, and wetland habitat. The ranch abuts the White River National Forest, Bureau of Land Management lands, and is in close proximity to the Jensen State Wildlife Area. It adds one more parcel to the corridor of protected properties along the important deer and elk migration route between the Flattops Wilderness and the winter ranges of western Rio Blanco and Moffat Counties.

“This property has incredible wildlife values and we’re glad that the Theos family approached CPW about submitting the property for Habitat Stamp fund protections,” said Area Wildlife Manager Bill deVergie.

The Theos’ conservation easement was acquired for $720,000, which was well below its appraised value. In addition to selling the conservation easement below appraisal, the access agreement was fully donated by the family.

“With high real estate values, agricultural landowners face the temptation to sell out to developers or wealthy investors,” deVergie said. “Fortunately longtime ranching families know the value that the land holds for wildlife and for future generations. In that way, conservation easements provide a win-win situation where landowners gain financial stability while also protecting the property’s non-monetary values.”

While this new easement will be designated as the Coal Creek Ranch State Wildlife Area, potential visitors are reminded to review the very specific limits for accessing the property. A small number of anglers will be allowed to access Coal Creek each day from May to November. A total of four archery or muzzleloader hunters per day will be able to access the property each fall through the big game hunt reservation system.

To learn about the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Program and how to protect properties, visit https://cpw.state.co.us/cwhp

For more information about the big game hunt reservation system, visit https://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/BGHuntingReservations.aspx

For more information about the property regulations, contact the CPW Meeker office at 970-878-6090.

PRESS RELEASE | Special to the Herald Times

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