Mountain Area Land Trust News Spring 2020
Message from the Executive Director
Believe. We must have hope and believe that we will survive and get through this pandemic of Covid-19.
Throughout all the recent changes in the way we interact and do business, one thing remains constant - the necessity to maintain and keep our sanity. One way for me to maintain this has always been getting outside and enjoying the natural world. So, choosing a line of work associated with conserving the outdoor places I love has always been on my radar screen.
Our work at Mountain Area Land Trust is critical for ensuring we all have adequate space where we can hike and recreate; where wildlife can thrive; where our water sources are protected and safe; where the air we breathe is fresh and pure; and where our community thrives because it recognizes and supports this quality of life.
During this time the work Land Trusts do and the benefits we bring to the community have been deemed essential and critical businesses to keep operating. So, if you, like me enjoy the outdoors and natural world please continue to support the work we do. In this way we will leave a better way of life for our children.
Stay safe and healthy during this time. Enjoy the outdoors and breathe in the fresh air each and every day. We have an amazing community, and together I believe we will get through this.Jeanne M. Beaudry
Saving the Land with Voluntary Land Agreements
Despite all of the changes to our normal daily lives, MALT's work to fulfill our mission of saving land and water is ongoing. While working remotely, our staff continues to engage a number of dedicated landowners that wish to permanently protect their beautiful scenic vistas, open spaces and critical wildlife habitat. Some highlights include a community-led project to protect nearly 200 acres in the Sacramento Creek Valley near Fairplay and a family partnership that aims to protect over 500 acres of wetlands and meadows near Evergreen. We have a number of active projects so stay tuned for more exciting updates!
During this time, we are also working to update our five-year Strategic Plan and our five-year Land and Water Conservation Plan. These plans guide the day to day activities of MALT and will provide the blueprint for us to move into a new decade of land and water conservation throughout our service area. We will be seeking community input as these plans are developed and encourage you to watch your inbox for your chance to participate.
While each and every day brings a new set of challenges, we are dedicated to continuing the important work of land and water conservation. Now, more than ever before, we must save our land and leave a legacy for future generations.
- Pollution and climate change are deemed the most important environmental problems today. Voters from each political party even see climate change as one of their top three environmental issues.
- Three-in-ten mention water issues when asked about the top environmental problems in their state today. Western voters believe that water supplies are becoming more unpredictable every year.
- More than three-quarters of voters consider the loss of habitat for fish and wildlife to be a serious problem. Voters are just as concerned about the loss of pollinators as they are about the health of water sources and climate change.
Trail Expansion at Sacramento Creek Ranch
In April of 2019, MALT acquired the land and assets of the former Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center, now known as Sacramento Creek Ranch (SCR) located on Busch Run Road in Fairplay. In addition to managing the property and using the ranch as a base of operations and outreach center, MALT offers public access to local youth organizations and residents to enjoy the existing interpretive and nature trails on the property.
MALT is expanding the recreational trails on SCR through a contract with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) to extend the existing trail during the weekend of August 21 - 23, 2020. Volunteers will add over a mile of new terrain that will border the Pike National Forest and trails will continue to be open and accessible to the public and available for school groups to use for educational purposes.
The August 2020 weekend will be the fourth partnership that MALT has organized with VOC on a trail building project. VOC trail designers anticipate that at least 50 volunteers will work over a two-day period, for a total of 700 volunteer work hours! Watch the VOC website to learn more details about how to sign up for this exciting project!
Mountain Area Land Trust News Fall 2019
Mountain Area Land Trust News Spring 2019
Mountain Area Land Trust News Fall 2018
Some Things You Really Autumn Know!
In collaboration with Colorado Cattleman's Agricultural Land Trust and Aaron Sidder of Red Beard Science LLC, MALT is serving as a pilot organization for a project designed to increase Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Colorado Land Trusts. MALT's role as a pilot is part of a broader effort that aims to establish a shared database that Colorado land trusts can use to identify a variety of conservation characteristics including wildlife habitat, wetlands, water resources and rare plant communities.By participating in this project, MALT will use the data to update its Land and Water Conservation Plan, identify currently unprotected areas in its priority areas and explore additional analyses, including critical water resources, that support MALT's mission for land and water conservation.
MALT is continually looking for opportunities to partner with private landowners seeking to protect their land and leave a legacy for the future. We recognize that Colorado's population is rapidly increasing and as it grows there is mounting pressure on the environment and open spaces we enjoy. Private lands are under pressure of being broken up for a variety of reasons -development, generational shifts from family farming or ranching, and financial hardship, to name a few. One tool available to landowners interested in preserving their heritage is a voluntary land agreement (Conservation Easement).A voluntary land agreement may be the answer that eases the pressures and protects the land into the future. If you are looking for ways to conserve a property, we would welcome the opportunity to visit with you and/or your family to discuss the Conservation Easement process and potential tax benefits. To set a time to talk or for more information please call the MALT office at 303-679-0950 or email us at MALT@savetheland.org.
Summer Volunteers Complete Trail SectionsVolunteer trail building organized by Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) and others this summer resulted in 4.5 miles of trails completed. Over 244 VOC volunteers donated 2,120 hours of volunteer labor valued at over $55,000 at Floyd Hill Open Space! MALT secured a grant from the Gates Family Foundation to fund much of this work. The VOC groups accomplished 3,300 feet of finished new trail, 1,400 feet of improvements to rough existing trail, built 10 climbing turns and removed 2 acres of invasive weeds. Trails are open for hiking and mountain biking. Read more about the July 9th trail building day.
Interpretive Panels InstalledInterpretive panels for the Pika Trail were installed on October 5th on MALT's property on Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area. The display panels include the Pika Trail map, information on the bristlecone pines, pika and plants found in the area and also historical background of the South Park region. Funding secured by MALT to complete this project was provided by The Summit Foundation and South Park National Heritage Area.
Boo!Bash Thank You
We Feel the Love!
A very grateful thank you
to Sarah and Les Sweeney and their Share the Love Foundation for including MALT
in the 5th annual Boo Bash on October 20th at Wild Game. MALT was one of
the five local non-profits selected by the foundation to receive proceeds from
this annual event. Thank you to all of our supporters who came out for the fun
and to support land and water conservation!
Dylan Sondermann Transitions to New Position
Dylan Sondermann joined MALT as the Land Steward in March 2018 after receiving a Master of Science degree in Conservation Leadership Through Learning (CLTL) from Colorado State University and he has recently accepted a position with MALT as a Land and Water Conservation Specialist.
Dylan will be assisting the Land and Water Director with Conservation Easement projects and continue to work on partnerships that promote MALT's mission. Currently, Dylan is working on several projects including a water sampling partnership with the University of Denver and a GIS pilot project that aims to increase the capacity of Land Trusts throughout Colorado.Dylan said, "I thoroughly enjoyed spending my summer as MALT's Land Steward meeting landowners who are committed to preserving the beautiful mountain areas of Colorado and in my new role, I am dedicated to MALT's continued pursuit of land and water conservation."
Mountain Area Land Trust News Spring 2018
Join MALT at A Night in the Park on July 14, 2018 at Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space Park. Enjoy live auction fun with auctioneer Reggie Rivers, music by Dakota Blonde and catered dinner from Fresh Tracks Foods & Catering all supporting land and water conservation. Jim and Jeanne Hill will serve as honorary chairs for this year's event.
Buy your tickets today and plan to join us to celebrate!
Mountain Area Land Trust News Fall 2017
Connecting Youth with Nature
Floyd Hill Open Space Summer Hikes for Youth
Cheers to MALT!
Evergreen Brewery & Tap House is donating 1% of the proceeds of all Elk Meadow IPA's purchased at their location or at other restaurants and bars that serve it. Look for an upcoming MALT event at Evergreen Brewery & Tap House!
Mountain Area Land Trust News Spring 2017
Floyd Hill Open Space
Conservation Easement placed on 108 acres
Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT) has closed on a Conservation Easement on 108 acres on Floyd Hill Open Space protecting this land in perpetuity. MALT led the way for the purchase of this meadow and forested area of land highly visible off I-70 on North Floyd Hill, located within Clear Creek County. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) managed the purchase transaction of the property with Clear Creek County contributing $300,000, Jefferson County contributing $200,000 and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) granting $545,000 towards the purchase price and due diligence. The land was conveyed on March 17, 2017 to Clear Creek and Jefferson Counties and will be directly managed as public open space by Clear Creek County, with the Conservation Easement ensuring its permanent protection being held by MALT. Clear Creek Open Space plans to open the Floyd Hill Open Space to public usage in early June. A temporary parking area will be defined as well as a preliminary trail through the meadow to connect to existing two track roads.
Celebrating 25 Years of Conservation at A Night in the Park
Former Bronco Reggie Rivers will be event auctioneer
Join us at A Night in the Park on July 15, 2017 at Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space Park. Celebrating 25 years of land and water conservation, this festive evening will feature a hosted bar, auctions with auctioneer and former Bronco Reggie Rivers, live music by Dakota Blonde and catered dinner from Fresh Tracks Foods & Catering.
Reggie Rivers is a former NFL running back who played six seasons with the Denver Broncos during the 1990s. Reggie is a media personality and business owner, who has worked in newspaper, radio and television in Denver. He graduated from Texas State University with a degree in Journalism, and he earned a Master’s Degree in Global Studies from the University of Denver. He has written five books, the latest is the award winning novel, “The Colony: A Political Tale”. MALT will be auctioning off some incredible Denver Bronco items including dinner for four at the Denver Chophouse with Bronco Ring of Fame inductee Randy Gradishar and also a signed football from Bronco great and Ring of Fame inductee, Karl Mecklenburg.
Buy your tickets today and plan to join the celebration!
Kiosk to be Constructed at Pika Trail
Offering a hiking experience for all
Thanks to the generous support of MALT donors, grants from the South Park National Heritage Area and a partnership with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, the Pika Trail on Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area is now complete and open to the public. At its 13,000 foot peak the trail offers breathtaking views of the Mosquito Range and the South Park Basin. Through a generous grant from The Summit Foundation MALT will work to increase year-round accessibility to the Pika Trail by posting trail markers and creating a trailhead kiosk. Reassurance markers will be posted along the hiking trail to assist winter visitors in finding their way in inclement weather. MALT is also collaborating with a local Boy Scout Troop to design and construct the trailhead kiosk, offering informational maps to visitors to keep them safe and informed.
In addition to the infrastructure improvements planned for 2017, MALT is continuing to offer guided hikes on Pennsylvania Mountain during the summer months. Hikers will learn about high-altitude ecology and Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area’s mining history. MALT also offers guided hikes at the Beaver Brook Watershed. More information on hikes.
Mountain Area Land Trust News Fall 2016
North Floyd Hill Public Project
New Public Project off I-70
MALT has been the driving force behind the North Floyd Hill Public Project, which in October became much closer to being finalized as Great Outdoors Colorado has recommended this project for final funding! This 108 acre property will be owned in partnership by Clear Creek County and Jefferson County, with a Conservation Easement held by MALT. Located about 25 minutes from Denver on North Floyd Hill, this property is highly visible from I-70 and will provide convenient access to over 12,000 acres of public land to hikers and cyclists.
Over the last several months, MALT’s Executive Director, Jeanne Beaudry, has built successful partnerships with local governments and non-profits that have made the North Floyd Hill Public Project possible. MALT has teamed up with Clear Creek County Open Space, Jefferson County Open Space and the Trust for Public Land to provide partial funds for this acquisition and to apply to Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) for the final funding required to purchase the property at fair market value. In October, GOCO staff recommended this project to be funded, which will occur in December of 2016 pending final approval.
This property is within Clear Creek County, yet Jefferson County is committed to this acquisition as it will allow outdoor recreationists to conveniently access over 12,000 acres of public land from I-70, much of which is within Jefferson County. This will mark the first time that Jefferson County has acquired Open Space outside of their County boundary. Additionally, a Conservation Easement on this property, held by MALT, will ensure public access and restricted development for perpetuity. Highly visible from the I-70 corridor, this property will soon be a destination to hikers and mountain bikers looking for mountainous terrain close to home. MALT is hoping to begin trail construction in 2017. Keep an eye out for upcoming volunteer trail building opportunities!
A Night in the Park Date Set for July 15, 2017
July 15 date announced for annual event
MALT has announced that the 15th annual A Night in the Park will be held on July 15, 2017 at Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space Park. Celebrating the 25 years of land and water conservation, this festive evening will feature a hosted bar, auctions, live music and catered dinner. Save the date and plan to join us to celebrate!
After graduating from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, Marion had her sights on working in New York City in International Business. However a life-changing event occurred in 1991 that steered her into a totally different career path. Marion completed the Physician’s Assistant program at Duke University in North Carolina and obtained a Masters of Health Sciences in 1996.
Marion first came to Colorado in 1992, working as a wrangler on a guest ranch near Shawnee where she met her husband Jeff, a former MALT board member. During his tenure, Marion learned of the great work MALT was doing preserving land, wildlife corridors and Colorado history. She and Jeff now enjoy introducing their 10 year old daughter to the beauty of Colorado through skiing, biking, hiking and the occasional garter snake.
Improving lives has become Marion's goal personally and professionally. As the beauty of Colorado continues to draw more people to our state, Marion hopes to help continue the vital preservation required to protect our land, wildlife and way of life in Colorado.
Meet Land Steward Frank Falzone
A love for the outdoors is something that was always a part of Frank's life as he grew up in Minnesota. Frank graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor's degree in Forest Ecosystem Management and Conservation. Upon graduation, Frank spent a field season on the Mt. Hood National Forest working in Silviculture and learning about the real-world applications of what he had learned in college. Frank loves spending his time outdoors. On any given weekend, you might find him up in the mountains skiing, hiking, rock climbing or panning for gold.
Mountain Area Land Trust News Spring 2016
Ancient Bristlecone Research
Ancient tree over 1,900 years old
A core sample retrieved last summer verified the age of one of the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone pine trees within the Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area as 1,927 years old! Dr. Richard Guyette, Kevin Hosman and Dr. Rose Marie Muzika conducted research at Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area last summer with the objective of estimating the age of the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone trees. Hosman, the director of Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center, said twenty six increment cores were collected in all. A second core was determined to be 1,856 years old.
to the research team, most of the trees on the south facing slope of Pennsylvania
Mountain had some degree of internal rot that prohibited them from finding the
age of trees expected in the 2000 - 3000 years old range. An unexpected
find was that half of the cores from the Bristlecones showed increased growth
rates over the past 100 years due to unknown circumstances.
Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area background:This a dramatic and beautiful 500+acre area surrounded on three sides by public land near Fairplay, Colorado. In 2014, with the generous support of the community, MALT purchased 92 critical acres as part of a multiphase project. This effort ensures the continuing ongoing scientific research conducted by more than a hundred scientists for nearly 40 years - one of the longest term alpine research sites in the country. Read more here.
Non-profit Landowners Can Earn Tax Credits
MALT is nearing completion on a voluntary land conservation agreement with the Boys Scouts of America, Pikes Peak Council Camp Alexander near Lake George, Park County. With approximately 330 acres, this project is one of the first non-profit voluntary land conservation agreement in the state. In March 2014, the Colorado Department of Revenue issued a Private Letter Ruling in response to a request challenge by the Conservation Resource Center (CRC) that allowed non-profits, generally 501(c)(3) entities, to also qualify for tax credits. This allows them to sell the tax credits for cash. This new ruling offers non-profit landowners (camps, retreats, religious organizations, etc.) to become potential voluntary land conservation agreement donors.
Camp Alexander has significant conservation values, including over a half mile of land along the South Platte River which is a high quality trout fishery. Based on the property’s geological features it also offers quality mountain lion and bobcat habitat. The camp is situated on a scenic byway located between Lake George and the Eleven Mile Reservoir - a popular area visited by high numbers of recreational travelers. Conservation of the property will continue to provide an opportunity for the general public to appreciate its scenic values. If you know of a non-profit landowner, please feel free to share this information and put them in touch with MALT at 303-679-0950.
Pika Trail Continues to Grow
Family Stewardship Experience in August
MALT will continue to add to the Pika Trail at Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area near Fairplay, CO this summer with a trail building weekend on August 20-21. For this family stewardship experience, MALT will once again be partnering with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) and Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center (BPEEC). The goal is to complete an additional 3/4 mile to the trail that was built in 2015. This is a wonderful stewardship and camping opportunity for families to work together on an outdoor environmental experience.
Summer Nature Walks
Get outside this summer!
See ancient bristlecone pines (over 1900 years old!), stunning wildflowers and alpine researchers in the field at Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area near Fairplay or learn about the unique history and natural resources of the Beaver Brook Watershed near Evergreen on one of MALT's guided hikes. Nature walks are free and begin in June. MALT is happy to work with your group and schedule a private nature walk for you!
Welcome New Board Members
New members join Board of Directors
Barb McEahern is the founder of Friends of the Wildcats Foundation at Arvada West High School and former Board member with Apex Foundation. Barb is a dedicated volunteer and has devoted many years to projects for Jefferson County schools. She lives in Golden with her husband and four children.
Mountain Area Land Trust News Fall 2015
Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center graciously hosted the under 12 kids during the day while their parents were hard at work on the trail. The children enjoyed many fun and exciting environmental activities. Highlights included feeding alpacas and goats, learning about sustainable farming and alternative energy, sawing plants in the greenhouse, examining tree rings to see how old they were, exploring dried up beaver ponds and lodges, catching macro invertebrates in the creek, going on a nature hike, and of course, playing in the mud! Parents and kids rejoined at dinner time to enjoy a night of camping together under the stars at Bristlecone View Ranch owned by MALT Conservation Easement holders Bob and Jill White.
A special thank you to the volunteers and staff with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center, South Park National Heritage Area and Bristlecone View Ranch, Bob and Jill White who made this project possible.
MALT Kicks Off Legacy Council
Donors take leadership role
MALT is pleased to announce its newly established Legacy Council, an engaged community of donors who have stepped up to take a leadership role in conserving a legacy of land, rivers, streams and stunning mountain vistas. As MALT plans ahead for a strong future of conservation in the mountain area from Denver to the Continental Divide, it is seeking to grow a leadership group of donors to lead our conservation efforts and provide MALT the resources it needs to be successful.
Legacy Council Membership Levels:
Lifetime Legacy Founder: Donate $25,000 or more per year for 3 years
Legacy Founder: Donate $10,000 or more per year for 3 years
Legacy Leader: Donate $10,000 or more annually
Legacy Conservator: Donate $5,000 - $9,999 annually
Legacy Partner: Donate $1,500 - $4,999 annually
Legacy Council Members will be invited to a special Legacy Council annual gathering and other conservation leadership opportunities.
Call or email Lynn today to discuss your membership in the Legacy Council! 303-679-0950 or Lynn@Savetheland.org
*Note: Levels are based on a cumulative total of gifts donated throughout the calendar year for which no goods or services are received. Planned and in-kind gifts are recognized separately.
Welcome New Board Members
New members join Board of Directors
Pandora Reagan is a Realtor with PandoraJohnProperties at RE/MAX Alliance and was the recent recipient of the Emerald Award from the Evergreen Chamber for exemplifying what it means to live and do business in Evergreen. Prior to her transition into real estate, she worked for Habitat for Humanity for 15 years in Colorado. Pandora lives in Evergreen with her husband.
Consider MALT in Your Planned Giving
MALT establishes Vista Giving Circle
In September, MALT was the recipient of a $75,000 bequest as the result of a generous planned gift from the Estate of Patricia Giles, a longtime supporter. Planned gifts such as this bring valuable support to Mountain Area Land Trust and will help make a significant difference in the lives of generations to come. Have you considered including MALT in your estate plans? It can be simple to accomplish and by including MALT in your will, life insurance policy, real estate plans or retirement account, you can specify a gift that comes to MALT after your lifetime. Learn more about Planned Giving.
Mountain Area Land Trust News Spring 2015
Trail Building at Pennsylvania Mountain Natural AreaHelp MALT build a trail
MALT is partnering with the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) and other organizations to design and build a trail at the Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area this summer. Over a two-day weekend, June 27 - 28th, volunteers will be working on constructing a one-mile trail across MALT’s property. We will be posting details on how you can be involved on our Facebook page and on our website, www.savetheland.org/pennsylvania-mtn Plan to join us for this fun and important work.
Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area is a dramatic and beautiful 500+acre area surrounded on three sides by public land near Fairplay, Colorado. In 2013, with the generous support of the community, MALT purchased 92 critical acres as part of a multiphase project. This effort ensures the ongoing scientific research conducted by more than a hundred scientists for over 37 years - one of the longest term alpine research sites in the country.
Pending Legislation to Increase Incentives for Land Conservation Agreements
MALT supports SB206
A pending bipartisan Colorado Senate Bill 206 which was introduced in the Senate on March 11, 2015 would create larger tax credits for buyers. The bill would allow a landowner to earn up to $1.5M in Colorado tax credits in a single year, which is a significant increase from the previous $375,000 maximum tax credit. This potential increase would help to conserve even more of Colorado’s natural areas.
MALT has written a letter of support to the Honorable Representative Jon Keyser who is a House co-sponsor. The bill currently has bipartisan sponsorship from Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) and Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton). House co-sponsors are Rep. Alec Garnett (D-Denver) and Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Evergreen). Click here to read the actual bill.
Lower North Fork Fire Update
MALT begins fire restoration process
Two of MALT’s Land Conservation Agreements were impacted by the Lower North Fork fire in March 2012. One landowner lost their home and nearly 99% of their property was burned. Approximately 75% of the second Land Conservation Agreement was also impacted by the fire. In April 2014, damages were awarded to MALT for both Land Conservation Agreements from the State of Colorado.
MALT has been working on the restoration process which involves scoping, planning, implementation and monitoring the impacted areas. MALT’s land team has had conversations with Jefferson County Conservation District to discuss their initial findings and recommendations. They have also consulted with fire rehabilitations experts and reviewed current scientific literature on techniques and methods. This spring in coordination with the landowners, the land team will be conducting field evaluations on-site to determine areas that will need vegetative rehabilitation and soil stabilization. MALT will be working to restore the conservation values to both properties. If you are interested in volunteering for this project, contact MALT at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet MALT Intern - Jackie Daoust
Winter Intern provides
Jackie Daoust, MALT's Winter Intern, has been helping out on various projects since last October. Jackie moved from New England last year and lives in North Evergreen. Jackie is nothing but enthusiastic when she speaks of her experience at MALT. “I am working with people and land in the community I lived in. Creating change on a local level with long-term effects for the place you hope to call home for many years to come is priceless. I was immediately giving back and able to say ‘thank you’ to the community that so quickly accepted me. I can only hope to continue such meaningful work.”
Jackie holds a BS in
Integrated Science from Johnson State College and a MSL from Vermont Law School
in Environmental Law and Policy. In college, she completed a variety of
environmental research projects while living in places such as Belize, Costa
Rica, Hawaii, and the Greek Islands. Jackie has dabbled in working for
the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in the Drinking Water
Department, splashed around at being an outreach coordinator and environmental
specialist for a few small non-profits, and has even dipped her toes in solar
PV sales. She is fully immersed in her first love, volunteer work,
ranging from Habitat for Humanity to sea turtle research to land conservation
boards. She recently adopted her first dog, Daryl Hall, and is enjoying
her first ski season out West.
Mountain Area Land Trust News Fall 2014
Welcome to our Enewsletter where we’ll be sharing our conservation successes, events and projects on the land through email on a seasonal basis. We are successful because of you and your ongoing support and belief in our mission. We hope you enjoy our stories and continue to support our efforts to leave a legacy for the next generation.
--- Jeanne M. Beaudry
Land Stewards of the Year:
Ostertag Family and Long Meadow Ranch
MALT annually awards Land Stewards of the Year to people who have exhibited exceptional leadership in land conservation. This year the award, presented on August 9th at A Night in the Park, was given to Robert Ostertag and family for conserving their 257 acre Long Meadow Ranch in Park County.
Robert is the fourth generation to live and ranch on the land. The ranch has been in working operation under the current family of ownership for approximately 90 years (circa 1920s); though it is likely various ranching operations occurred as far back as the 1880s. Historically, potato farming and cattle grazing have comprised the main production crops and livestock on the property. Nowadays the land is used primarily for horse pasture and haying operations.
The Ostertag’s have always had a deep connection with their land and for good reason. A portion of the North Fork of the South Platte River traverses through a backdrop of Mount Logan, golden meadows and the ranch buildings distinctive red-roofs. This rural beauty, by the way, is all visible from Hwy 285, the main thoroughfare into Park County. The Ostertag’s Conservation Easement now provides a long-term opportunity for the general public to appreciate the property’s scenic value. “We want to honor traditions of my ancestors, like respect and stewardship, by maintaining the land as it always has been for generations to come,” says Robert.
The public benefits further from the Ostertag’s Conservation Easement from the wildlife habitat it conserves. Montane forests of ponderosa pine, blue spruce, Douglas-fir and aspen trees dominate the landscape but riparian and meadow areas are also present. This diverse habitat provides food, shelter, breeding ground and migration corridors for several wildlife species including deer, elk, eagles, hawks, carnivores and several species of state concern including Canada Lynx, Piling Plover and Least Tern.
Lastly, the water resources on the property serve an important function in the ecological health and diversity of the area. Drainage patterns, wetlands and water management regimes on the property help contribute to and sustain valuable scenic and ecologically beneficial areas for wildlife, plant and amphibian species.
Landowners that choose to complete Conservation Easements on their land are true pioneers for social good. The benefits the public receives from conserving open space landscapes are immense. Although benefits like improved water quality and wildlife habitat are not always tangible to the public, they contribute to a high quality of life for all people, even those residing in cities like Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder. For this reason MALT thanks the Ostertag’s for their dedication, respect and compassion for the natural world.
Ensuring Conservation Values such as wildlife habitat and water resources remain healthy and vibrant is a critical tenet of what MALT does. During the summer of 2014, MALT worked with multiple partners to improve aspen habitat on one of our largest conserved properties in Clear Creek County.
After years of monitoring the area, MALT staff determined aspen saplings were not regenerating and even dying in a sensitive meadow habitat on the property due to overgrazing by elk and mule deer. Aspen saplings are a popular food source for elk and mule deer because they are tender and sweet. However, overgrazing of aspen saplings will prevent them from reaching maturity. Mature aspens are well-known among the scientific community as excellent providers for nesting bird species. In addition, aspen have proved to increase snowpack retention, improve water quality by filtering pollutants and positively influence underlying soil by encouraging organic matter, phosphorous and water holding capacity. Therefore, MALT felt it was important to reverse the decline of aspen in this particular area.
With support from the Landowners and residents of the property, the project consisted of installing a six-foot fence around a one-acre area in the meadow. Specifications of the exclosure were designed in accordance with the U.S. Forest Service Wildlife Guidelines Handbook to exclude livestock and game wildlife from the fenced area. Long-term monitoring of the area inside the exclosure will occur to measure aspen saplings and their subsequent growth. The intention is to keep the exclosure in place long enough for aspens to grow to maturity.
MALT Project partners included Steele Street Bank and Trust (Landowners), residents on the property, Boys Scouts of America and Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. Coordination for the project was provided by Jack Winters, Boy Scout from Evergreen Troop 737 for his Eagle Scout Project. Volunteers from Wells Fargo (Candace Allen, Bob Woodward and Jennifer Bruce) provided the necessary labor for the project. MALT staff also participated in the construction while providing guidance and expertise. Long-term monitoring of aspen growth within the exclosure will be completed by MALT. Considering the project had excellent planning and partners, MALT anticipates positive results inside the exclosure as well as the entire area for many years to come.
Beaver Brook Watershed Noxious Weed Eradication
The Beaver Brook Watershed (BBW) is one of the many natural resource gems in Colorado’s Front Range. The BBW encompasses a total of 6,000 acres. U.S. Forest Service owns a majority of the land in the BBW; however, Clear Creek County Open Space owns 540 acres over which MALT holds a Conservation Easement.
The BBW is located 3.5 miles west of Bergen Park on Squaw Pass Road, the westward continuation of Jefferson County Route 66. The region’s stunning beauty encompasses a relatively intact ecosystem, joining with surrounding lands to form a 17-mile wildlife and open space corridor from the Mt. Evans Wilderness to Elk Meadow Park in Evergreen. Snowmelt from Mt. Evans fills several reservoirs in the Watershed, supplying water for Clear Creek High School and 500 homes on Lookout Mountain.
Recently, noxious weeds have been invading portions of the BBW, especially in areas with public access trails. Noxious weeds like Musk thistle and Common mullein are disruptive to natural ecological processes. They are aggressive plants with the ability to outcompete native vegetation. Wildlife such as deer and elk find them unpalatable, further encouraging their persistence.
This is why MALT, Clear Creek County Open Space and the Colorado Dept. of Agriculture worked together to conduct a noxious weed eradication event this past summer. Crews from each entity worked all day to spray, pull and remove noxious weeds in two areas containing public hiking trails. Spraying herbicide was targeted only to noxious weeds and completed in a manner consistent with Clear Creek County’s Noxious Weed Management Plan. The treatment was done at time when many of the plants’ rosettes had not gone to seed, limiting the likelihood of future infestation. Whilst the project required heavy lifting and hard work, the work completed will have a long-lasting, positive impact on the natural resources and enjoyment of recreation seekers.
This project truly was a collaborative effort. MALT would like to thank Ted Brown, Clear Creek County Weed Supervisor, and his work-crew as well as Patty York, Early Detection and Rapid Response Specialist with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, for their coordination and expertise in seeing this project through to completion.
Summer Hiking with MALT
MALT’s Conservation Easements greatly benefit the public by protecting natural resources such as water and soil, scenic views and wildlife habitat. Fortunately, some of our Conservation Easements allow for public access, notably Beaver Brook Watershed in Clear Creek County, and MALT’s newest purchase, Pennsylvania Mountain Natural Area, in Park County.
In 2014, MALT decided to launch a Summer Hiking Program to help get members of the public on these properties. Many people attended seven hikes from June to August. Hikes included history on how these properties became conserved and information about wildlife, geology and other natural processes occurring on the land. Some of the notable activities on hikes were learning how to identify common wildlife and wildflowers as well as determine the differences between pine, fir and spruce trees.
One hike at the PMNA was lucky to include Professor Candace Galen of Biological Sciences at Missouri University. She has conducted research at PMNA since the 1970’s, focusing mainly, but not exclusively, on the pollination of the alpine flower, Sky Pilot. Twenty-five research students also attended the hike. Professor Galen, along with the attendees, was able to provide in-depth information on wildlife, plant communities and changing environmental conditions at the PMNA.
The success of the Summer Hiking Program could not have been accomplished without the help of summer intern Susanna Brauer. Susanna is currently in her senior year at Metro State University (MSU) completing a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Science with a special focus on Ecological Restoration. She expects to graduate in May 2015. Susanna is also active with the Colorado Wildlife Federation’s MSU Denver Chapter and serves as the Youth Board Director for the Hope Lutheran Church in Aurora, CO.
Though MALT was sad to say good-bye to Susanna, we know she will carry the values she was able to foster at MALT with her forever. “I wish to take ownership of my local wild places and help empower others to do the same,” stated Susanna early in her internship. In 2015, MALT hopes to get more people on hikes so they can learn and connect with the beautiful properties they help conserve. Stay tuned!