Gradys, Klinglesmiths host stewardship conservation program tour of properties

Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Bailey Franklin spoke with part of the tour group Aug. 15 on the Grady and Klinglesmith ranches NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program public tour. Franklin explained the mechanical tear-down and seeding that was done with wildlife friendly species on this portion of ground which had harbored old, decadent and not-so-wildlife-friendly big sage.

MEEKER | Mike and Mary Grady as well as Lenny, Jackie, Lowell and LoAnn Klinglesmith, hosted a Stewardship Conservation Program (CSP) tour of their properties up at Lime Kiln just east of Flag Creek below Hay Flat and the surrounding country earlier this month. Part and parcel to the tour was a tremendous lunchtime feed for over some 30 individuals attending the event
Tiffany Jehorek, Meeker district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, reported that any approved CSP plan is custom built by the operators and NRCS together. Providing a public tour about their efforts and success (or not) is one of many options operators can choose to include in their plan. The CSP was rolled out in the 2002 Farm Bill under the auspices of NRCS which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CSP is a voluntary program in the NRCS tool shed which can assist landowners achieve conservation benefits to their land and the environment alike.
According to Jehorek, “Both the Grady and the Klinglesmith (LK) Ranches voluntarily entered into the program to take conservation on their land a little further by providing more benefits to soil, water, wildlife, plant diversity, and livestock production. The tour was an opportunity to showcase how NRCS can assist landowners and, even more importantly, show what a couple of our Rio Blanco County livestock producers are doing for the land we love.”
As advertised, Mike Grady talked with the group of 30 some people about the history of the Lime Kiln area and some of the people who homesteaded there. The Lime Kiln Rural School, at over 8,000 feet in elevation, was the highest school in the county and was named for the limestone quarried and processed in the area. The Rio Blanco County Historical Society states that at one time 32 families lived in the area. Beginning in 1916, first in a settler’s cabin and then in a log schoolhouse on donated private land, the community quickly found out that due to the harsh conditions, school in the winter was to impossible, so summer school terms were held from April to November. The school was closed in 1939.
In 1910, Henry Jacobs was raising spring grain in the area as were others. The growing use of automobiles was one of the factors that led to the economic demise of grain operations there, according to Grady. A lot of sheep were run in the country. Families who occupied parts of the Grady Ranch included the Moyers, Coses, Slifkas, Peasleys, Mangus’, Services, and Foxes.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Bailey Franklin, who provides the leadership for the effort to improve wildlife habitat as well as conditions for warmer season cattle grazing to benefit the ranches, detailed the various cooperative programs CPW carries on with the LK Ranch including establishment of conservation easements, Ranching for Wildlife which includes public hunters, and participation with the Habitat Partnership Program. The Yampa Valley Land Trust headquartered in Steamboat Springs holds and monitors the easements.
Range monitoring techniques, brush control, prescribed burning, aspen thinning, and the use of wildlife friendly fencing were displayed and discussed. Rob Raley, a Meeker native and retired area land, wildlife and hunt manager on the tour, complimented the Gradys and Klinglesmiths for their willingness to open their operations and share their experiences with the public.