1,240-Acre Dunn Ranch Saved (CO)

LA GARITA, 11/21/05- The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) and local landowner, Roger Perry, announced today that they have finalized a conservation easement that will protect important water rights in the La Garita watershed. The conservation easement on Perry’s 1,240-acre farm and ranch ensures the property will never be developed and the senior water rights that go with it will remain in the San Luis Valley.

“The water rights that go with the Perry ranch are extremely important to the San Luis Valley,” said Justin Spring,” TPL Field Representative. “The Perry ranch water rights play an important role in maintaining the ecological vitality of the Russell Lakes Wildlife area, the San Luis Lakes State Wildlife area and the Mishak Lakes Preserve.”

Nancy Butler from RiGHT states, “The Dunn Ranch has incredible local significance to the San Luis Valley in terms of its water rights, agricultural productivity and wildlife habitat. We are thrilled the Perry family has shown such dedication to conservation in this area.”

The conservation easement was made possible by generous grants from the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and Great Outdoors Colorado.

The ranch plays an important role in a growing network of publicly and privately conserved agricultural and wildlife properties in the Valley. Landowners Roger and Marilyn Perry have long practiced careful stewardship of the land, and were motivated to preserve the Dunn Ranch by their love of the land and wish to see it remain in agriculture. The Perry family previously collaborated with TPL to protect the Parma Ranch, part of which was added to the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge and part of which remains as private land with a conservation easement on it held by RiGHT.

“If we do not secure the water to the land for all time, sooner or later someone will try to take it from us; when that day dawns agriculture in this valley will cease to exist,” Perry said.

The ranch’s senior surface water rights supply important ground water recharge to the Valley’s aquifer, thereby maintaining an essential element of productivity and wildlife habitat in the region. By purchasing a conservation easement on the ranch, TPL and RiGHT have helped to maintain it as a privately owned farming and ranching operation contributing to the agricultural lifestyle, open space and economy of Saguache County.

Since 1989, TPL has helped to protect over 3,000 acres in the Valley including over 850 acres and associated water rights added to the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge in 2002. The Valley’s local land trust, RiGHT, has been working hard since 2000 and now stewards more than 4,000 acres of private land with conservation easements on them throughout the region.