Dinosaur Ranch Protected

A ranch east of Denver which scientists say is one of the world’s best places to study evidence of the extinction of the dinosaurs is being permanently protected, three conservation organizations announced today.

“This will be a great place for children to learn about dinosaurs, what caused their extinction, and for more scientific research,” said Justin Spring, The Trust for Public Land project manager who led the protection effort.

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science recently discovered significant evidence on the property of what is known as the “K-T Boundary” – a sedimentary layer related to the extinction of the dinosaurs about 65.5 million years ago.

Where dinosaurs once roamed

Dr. Ian Miller, Curator of Paleontology at the museum, explained that the dinosaurs were killed when a giant asteroid hit the earth, throwing up an enormous amount of sediment and material which covered the entire planet.

“It is known as the K-T boundary, and below it, you find dinosaurs, but above it there is no evidence of dinosaurs. This boundary has been studied all over the world, but the Marrs Ranch is one of the very few places where you can easily find all the physical evidence of the K-T boundary. It is a great place for kids to learn about the last great extinction in the history of the Earth,” said Dr. Miller.

The Trust for Public Land bought the 1,038-acre property, located about 12 miles south of Strasburg, for $813,000, with money coming from Great Outdoors Colorado, the Plains Conservation Center, Arapahoe County Open Space, South Metro Land Conservancy, the Colorado Conservation Trust, and individual donors. The land will be added to Plains Conservation Center’s West Bijou site for grazing, environmental education, paleontological research, and wildlife observation.

“It is a great day, and on behalf of my sisters Dana, Debra and myself,” said Dee Marrs,” this agreement will assure the beautiful south ranch that our parents Marion and Ida owned since 1964, with its prairie wildlife and expansive views, will be preserved for generations to come.”

As part of the transaction, the Plains Conservation Center put a conservation easement over its 9,000-acre West Bijou site, meaning the land cannot be developed. So, for every Marrs’ acre preserved, nine additional acres will be permanently protected for public use, education, and enjoyment. Both conservation easements are held and stewarded by Colorado Open Lands.

“Colorado Open Lands is very excited to have partnered again with The Trust for Public Land, Great Outdoors Colorado, the Plains Conservation Center and Arapahoe County to protect a property that contributes to a larger mosaic of open space in the Denver Metro area,” said Amanda Nims, Land Protection Specialist with COL.

The Plains Conservation Center (PCC), a non-profit and membership organization educating more than 8,000 school children a year and conserving over 9,000 acres of protected lands, will own the land. The PCC has recently completed a master plan for the project and plans to provide educational, scientific and public visitation opportunities there.

“The Marrs property is a hidden treasure, little known to the general public,” said Dr. Gordon Tucker, President of the PCC Board of Directors. “Its acquisition adds a vital piece in the awesome setting of West Bijou Creek.”

An invitation to explore

The PCC is eager to show the public its land. Three upcoming opportunities to explore the site with public tours will take place Friday, December 28; Saturday, January, 26 and Saturday, February, 23 9am-3pm by reservation. Interested patrons can call 303-693-3621 or visit www.plainscenter.org to RSVP. Members $15/ Non-Members $20. The PCC is also inspired to share this resource with scientific researchers from a variety of disciplines, likely to unearth intriguing finds beneath the surface of the Marrs property.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.