The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) is extremely pleased to announce the conservation of 1,080 acres of one of the iconic ranches at the headwaters of the Rio Grande: the 4UR Ranch. This conservation project also brings RiGHT’s Rio Grande Initiative to the original goal of protecting 25,000 acres of private lands along the Rio Grande and its tributaries.
RiGHT is grateful to the many supporters who made this project possible and the generosity of the Leavell and Brown families, who donated a substantial portion of the value. Phase II of the 4UR Ranch conservation project received funding from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the Gates Family Foundation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), CPW’s San Luis Valley Habitat Partnership Program, and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. RiGHT especially appreciates the help of the staff of these funding agencies and the Boards who chose to support this effort, all of whom made this exceptional conservation project possible.
What this means to the landowners:
Charla Brown: “My mother (Ruth Humphreys Brown) purchased this property when she heard that it was going to be developed into homes and a golf course. Now with securing a conservation easement, her desires for protection will be in perpetuity. The headwaters of the Rio Grande will now remain a healthy ecosystem for both animals and plants. Thanks so much to RiGHT for making this possible!”
Darcey Brown: “As an adult, I know and deeply feel and appreciate the quiet remoteness of the valley and the surrounding forests. There are few places left that are far from the madding crowds. I feel so fortunate that my parents, the Leavells, the five of us (descendants of A.E. Humphreys), and now all of our children are committed to protecting and preserving it for the future.”
Pete Leavell: “The 4UR Ranch has been a guest resort for well over 120 years and has been in the Leavell family for 42 years. As such, it has become an almost sacred spot and our family’s gathering point as we are spread across the US. It is truly a privilege to be able to preserve this precious piece of land for many generations to come, and especially to help preserve the waters of Goose Creek and the Upper Rio Grande.”
What this means to RiGHT:
Nancy Butler, Executive Director: “For RiGHT, the opportunity to protect the 4UR Ranch, with the spectacular high altitude, riparian corridor of Goose Creek is a truly special accomplishment. It’s rewarding to know that the lynx, and elk and moose and all of the other wildlife that depend upon Goose Creek will continue to thrive there, and never know the difference…which is exactly the point!”
Rio de la Vista, Coordinator, Rio Grande Initiative: “Private land conservation is achieved one project at a time. And this one project is especially significant to the landscape scale Initiative. We had a big vision starting back in 2007: to protect 25,000 acres of private lands and water rights along the Rio Grande and its tributaries. Now, with the conservation of the 4UR Ranch, we are pleased and humbled to have reached that goal!
“We’re immensely grateful to all of the landowners, funders, and community supporters who shared this vision with us from the beginning and who have worked with us over the years to make this possible. Our original partners at Colorado office of The Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited, along with so many other collaborators, were all vital to this accomplishment. As the community’s land trust, we benefitted greatly from their guidance, support and encouragement over the years. ”
There is continuing and strong interest in conservation from even more landowners along the Rio Grande and Conejos River corridors. We look forward to building upon the success and momentum of the Rio Grande Initiative to help many more families reach their own goals for their land and to pass their legacy on to future generations.