Chubb Park Ranch Protected (CO)

Chaffee County, CO, 8/11/2009 — The Trust for Public Land (TPL), working in partnership with the Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas (LTUA), lottery funded Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW), and Chaffee County, has succeeded in permanently protecting the Chubb Park Ranch, a high mountain meadow in beautiful central Colorado.

The 507-acre holding is part of the Cogan Ranch, and the Cogan family has been in ranching in Chaffee County since 1889. In recent years, the family has watched as Chaffee County, with its magnificent mountain scenery, world-renowned whitewater rafting, and welcoming community, has grown in popularity as a tourist destination and location for second homes. Although property prices have stabilized, the boom years have left long-term residents like the Cogans facing land and inheritance taxes that their ranching operations cannot support.

“Our land would be taxed unfairly for an incredible amount as if it would be subdivided. How do you pay taxes on that?” says Joe Cogan. “It would break my children. They’d have to sell at least half the ranch.”

But selling could jeopardize production on the rest of Cogan’s land. It would also threaten public access to the property’s prime hunting grounds – something Cogan has granted year after year.So the Cogans found another solution: conservation easements. Working with DOW, GOCO, LTUA and TPL the family mapped out the details of a conservation easement that not only puts the land under permanent protection, it also gives them the financial resources they need to help ensure that their children and grandchildren will be able to continue to work the ranch.

“Working with Joe to keep his land in the family and in ranching has been very rewarding,” says The Trust for Public Land Project Manager, Wade Shelton. “And now with this signature project complete, TPL hopes to expand our work in Chaffee County.”

TPL secured funding to purchase the conservation easement from Chaffee County, DOW and GOCO and managed the transaction to make sure that the final outcome would meet the needs of everyone involved – particularly the Cogan Family. The DOW also acquired a perpetual hunting access easement from the Cogans, ensuring that the property will be available for hunting for future generations. Most conservation easement projects do not include public access, which illustrates the extent of the Cogans’ generosity. The conservation easement will be co-held by LTUA and DOW, who will work together as long-term stewards of the easement, with DOW managing public hunting access to the land, making it a historic partnership between DOW and a local land trust.

“One of the great things about this project is that not only does it preserve the dramatic views off Trout Creek Pass and provide hunting opportunities for big game hunters, but that all of the funding came from Habitat Stamp Fees and Lottery Ticket sales,” says Frosty Roe, President of the Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas. “We’re very fortunate that we live in a state where you can complete projects like this without relying on taxpayer dollars.”

Landowners like Cogan open up local conservation opportunities, as residents are more likely to consider an easement if a neighbor had a good experience. And every easement strengthens the region’s rural character.

“The Cogan property is exactly the type of land we love protecting,” says Andrew Mackie, executive director of the LTUA, the local organization that will manage the conservation easement. “We’re excited to have this crucial property protected.”

“The valley is breathtaking, but it hasn’t become a resort community,” continues Shelton. “These projects help maintain balance. People can still live here without being incredibly wealthy.”Cogan’s view is simpler still. “Now I don’t have to look at a damn subdivision at the foot of Buffalo Peaks.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.