Thursday, January 21, 2016

More Pueblo land conserved forever

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 1:46 PM

  • Courtesy Gary Walker
Pueblo County rancher Gary Walker has announced he'll place an additional 6,300 acres of Walker Ranches into a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy.

In a news release, Walker said his ranch and Colorado Springs Utilities had worked together to enable the addition to the easement. From the release:

“I appreciate Colorado Springs Utilities cooperation in modifying the language of their SDS pipeline easement which allowed Walker Ranches and The Nature Conservancy to create yet another conservation easement to protect the land”, said Walker.

The Southern Delivery System (SDS) water pipeline through Pueblo County required Colorado Springs Utilities to acquire a pipeline easement across 5.5 miles of Walker Ranches property. The language of the SDS easement created a problem for future Walker Ranch conservation easements on almost 15,000 acres. In June of 2015 Walker Ranches and CSU came to a mutual agreement that would eliminate barriers that restricted Walker’s conservation efforts. The parties agreed to work together in the future to manage, maintain and enhance the existing revegetation of the SDS right-of-way and facilitate the continuing environmental efforts of Walker by removing any legal obstructions that would impede the conveyance of future conservation easements on the Walker property.

Since 2005 Walker Ranches has placed in perpetuity over 30,000 acres of Conservation Easements with The Nature Conservancy. Walker’s goal is to protect from development all of Walker Ranches and the plant and wildlife communities that depend on it. “I agree development and growth is necessary for a healthy economy but it does not have to be at the expense of our environment. Urban Sprawl is very detrimental to our fragile front range eco-system. Build up not out.” said Walker.
Utilities paid $7.1 million for SDS land.

Walker and his wife, Georgia, were honored in 2014 with the Innovation in Conservation award by the Palmer Land Trust. Walker has been a leader in providing prairie dog and black-footed ferret habitat.

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