BY: Lauren Krizansky, Courier staff writer
Posted: Saturday, Jun 16th, 2012
FORT GARLAND — True to his reputation and his family’s legacy, Trinchera Ranch owner and conservationist Louis Bacon is taking the first of many steps to establish and encourage private land preservation in the San Luis Valley.
Yesterday at the Fort Garland Museum in Fort Garland, Bacon announced his intended donation of the 90,000-acre Blanca Ranch conservation easement located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“I have worked on a number of conservation and preservation projects in the United States and overseas, but nothing with the scope and importance of my efforts on Trinchera Ranch,” Bacon said to a supportive crowd of Valley residents, politicians and environmental enthusiasts. “This action will protect the Blanca Ranch in perpetuity and create a key connection in the large, diverse system of protected lands here along the Sangre de Cristo range and in the San Luis Valley.”
Bacon owns the Blanca and Trinchera Ranches located north and east of Fort Garland, respectively. The Forbes family previously owned the 172,000-acre parcel, in which a Colorado Open Lands easement partially protects. The Blanca Ranch donation will protect the entire 172,000-acre site into an easement that should be completed by September 1 and is being considered the foundation for the proposed Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area, which the service is in the process of establishing.
“It is a great day for me because when I did buy the ranch, I made a verbal commitment that I would try to do what the Forbes had done on the other side of the ranch, which was protect it,” Bacon said. “The Department of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service came up with the idea of the conservation area together, and sparked my initiative to discuss with them a private public partnership, which to me is very exciting and I hope this is an example to other landholders.”
The diverse iconic landscapes of these ranches feature breathtaking vistas of high desert shrubs and mountain grasslands, combined with alpine forest and alpine tundra. The area stretches up to the top of one of the highest peaks in Colorado, Blanca Peak at 14,345 feet above sea level. It falls in the center of the longest mountain chain in the United States and borders the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
Joining Bacon for his announcement was Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who was more than pleased to break the conservation easement news in the place he calls home.
“Today is a historic day in the American conservation movement for America,” Salazar said. “Here in this Valley, we sit in Fort Garland, we celebrate those who want to make sure the water, which is the lifeblood of the San Luis Valley, is protected and that the wildlife, which is so much a cherished part of our planet, will have a place to be for the benefit of this generation and generations to come.”