WESTCLIFFE – Huckleberry Hills Ranch, a 500-acre agricultural property in southwestern Pueblo County outside of Rye, has been protected forever by a conservation easement held by San Isabel Land Protection Trust.
Protecting the ranch ensures that the property will remain open and in agricultural use, providing habitat for numerous wildlife species, maintaining the scenic beauty for travelers along Highway 165, part of the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway, and providing a buffer to the adjacent San Isabel National Forest at the base of Greenhorn Mountain.
Laurie Sankey, president of Huckleberry Hills Ranch Inc., said, “The ranch is owned by five diverse families who don’t always agree on everything associated with running a ranch. … But we have always agreed on one thing: We want to preserve the property as it is, including the resources, qualities and values that make the Mountain West unique.
“We feel blessed to own a slice of paradise and are honored to be able to preserve it,” Sankey said. “San Isabel Land Protection Trust gave us the tools to do this, and we are grateful. Four of our five families inherited this land from our parents, most of whom have passed away. I think today they are smiling down on us in recognition of what this means to the future of the property they loved so dearly.”
She added, “Native wisdom holds that we must treat the earth well, as it is not given to us by our parents, but loaned from our children. This sounds right to us!”
Great Outdoors Colorado and Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway provided funding for the project.
San Isabel’s board president Larry Vickerman said, “All of us in the land trust community are grateful to the folks at Huckleberry Hills Ranch for committing to keep their gorgeous property open and protected into the future. This is no small achievement, and as landowners, they should be proud.”
The Huckleberry Hills easement brings the total number of easements held by San Isabel to 133, protecting nearly 41,000 acres of working ranches, farm and forest lands, water resources, wildlife habitat and scenic spaces. The land trust holds 13 easements on about 2,400 acres in Pueblo County.
San Isabel, a nationally accredited 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, works with landowners to protect and care for land and water in Huerfano, Custer, Fremont and Pueblo counties. The land trust aims to ensure the region remains a beautiful and wild landscape with a strong agricultural foundation and a vibrant, healthy community. To learn more or to donate to this important work, go to sanisbel.org.
Great Outdoors Colorado invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,000 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.
Photo caption: Huckleberry Hills Ranch in southwest Pueblo County has been protected with a conservation easement held by San Isabel Land Protection Trust.