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Conservation Accomplishments

Under our tenure, the creek and riparian areas of Chico Basin Ranch have rebounded from overgrazing. Due to our grazing methodology, these areas have seen the return of vigorous cottonwoods, willows, and bulrushes, and encroaching exotics such as Russian olive and salt cedar have been pushed out by these native plant communities. In addition, the reintroduction of Arkansas darters to the ranch’s watershed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife have contributed to the removal of the species from the candidate list of federal endangered species.


Partner of the Year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, 2019

Environmental Stewardship Award, Palmer Land Trust, 2019

Conservationist of the Year, Colorado Association of Conservation Districts, 2017

Leopold Conservation Award (Nominee), Sand County Foundation, 2017

Landowner of the Year, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, 2008

Excellence in Rangeland Conservation Award, Society for Range Management, 2003

Radical Center Award, Quivira Coalition

Research & Monitoring

Fund and host fall and spring migratory bird banding stations in partnership with the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (2002 – present)

Annual Chico & Black Squirrel Creeks amphibian and fishery survey with Colorado Parks and Wildlife“Birds, Bugs, and Bees” – ranch-wide survey of wildlife involving public volunteers (2002 – 2008)

Surveys on spiders, moths, and dung beetles with Denver Museum of Nature and Science (discovered two unlisted species during moth research survey – 2013)

Annual Colorado Christmas Bird CountPerched spring research and core sampling to determine climatic history with University of Colorado BoulderOngoing conservation inventory studies with Colorado Natural Heritage Program (2002 – present)

Bison and elk study with USGS to determine grazing patterns and impact on forage resources of elk and bison grazing on the same ranges

Installed over 25 Land EKG monitoring transects and 60 permanent, photo points that are monitored bi-annually on a rotating basis. Each transect has several photo points, analysis hoops that are monitored for land health indicators, and a movable range cage to aid in monitoring annual re-growth. Data, including precipitation and grazing history, is entered in the Land EKG database as monitoring occurs (2001 – present)

Enclosed twenty 1-5 acre tracts for conservation, monitoring, and protection of re-vegetation projects

Infrastructure Improvements

Constructed nearly forty miles of new pipeline and twenty two new high capacity water tanks to allow for cattle consolidation and protection of wetlands resources

Constructed nearly thirty five miles of new, permanent electric fence, to intensify soil surface disturbance, increase rest, and protect wetlands

Developed and intensively use streamlined portable fencing construction systems


Comprehensive multi-partner project and study to eradicate and/or remove almost 400 acres of Russian olive and tamarisk from wetlands areas, including over twenty miles of streambed along the Chico and Black Squirrel Creeks, with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, The Colorado State Land Board, The Nature Conservancy, The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, NRCS, and the Soil Conservation District (2003 – present)

Associated native plant revegetation and protective exclosure project with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Wildlands Restoration Volunteers and The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. Twelve exclosures have been constructed to protect over 200 cottonwoods and thousands of willows and native shrubs such as choke cherry, wild plumb, and service berry that have been planted to provide alternative habitat for resident and migrant birds (2010 – present)

Aggressive program implemented to prevent a small infestation of burdock and Russian knapweed from spreading throughout Chico Basin Ranch (2010 – present)

Prescribed grazing intervention at San Luis State Park for Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Re-vegetation project with prescriptive grazing to reclaim and rehabilitate former Zapata Ranch golf course

Rehabilitation of Chico Basin Ranch creeks and riparian areas through rotational grazing methodology, resulting in the return of bulrushes, cottonwoods, willows and other native species, and the decline of invasive exotics

Wildlife & Rare Bird Sightings

Reintroduction of the Arkansas darter to the Chico Creek with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, resulting in the species being removed from the list of candidate for the federal endangered species list (2016)

Habitat improvement, juniper plantings, and fencing exclosures with Colorado Parks and Wildlife Upland bird habitat improvement and food plots with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever (2011 – 2012)

Fisheries improvement with Pikes Peak Fly Fisherman’s Club (2012)

Construction of wildlife and cattle fencing exclosure to protect Arkansas darter site with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Fountain Valley School (2012)

Construction of nesting boxes for waterfowlImplementation of livestock ladders for wildlife trapped inside water troughs

First Colorado record of a Tropical Kingbird, a photograph and vocalizations recorded at Chico in fall 2017.

Very rare on the Eastern Plains, a Pacific Wren was caught and banded in the fall of 2017.

Two Connecticut Warblers banded, one in spring and one in fall. Very rare in Colorado.

Two rare Yellow-bellied Flycatchers caught in mist nets.

Rare on the eastern plains, a Lesser Nighthawk was photographed roosting in a HQ plains cottonwood tree.

Rare in Pueblo County, a Black Rail was heard and photographed on four different springs during migration.

A Least Bittern has been photographed multiple times.

Long-eared Owls sometimes winter on Chico and one pair remained to nest successfullyShort-eared Owls have been found wintering on Chico, and one pair remained to nest.

A Snowy Owl was a one-day wonder during February 2018, found perched on a wooden fence post

Rare on the Great Plains, two Flammulated Owls were caught and banded at the banding station.

Thirty seven warbler species have been documented with photographs, most seen during spring and fall migrations

Ranching Tours

Colorado Farm Bureau

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Society for Range Management

Colorado State Land Board Commissioners

American Birding Association

Audubon Society

The Nature Conservancy

Colorado State University

Colorado College

Conferences and Seminars

Global Conference – Whole Land, Healthy People – A Celebration of Holistic Management, Keynote by Allan Savory (2001)

Continuing Education Series in Holistic Management, Grazing, Planning, and Resource Management – Kirk Gadzia, Resource Management Services (2000 to 2010)

Keying Grasses, Plant ID with Alan Carpenter, Land Stewardship Consultants (2005 – 2011)

Grass Identification Seminar with the Colorado Native Plant Society (2010, 2011)Land EKG Monitoring 101 with Charley Orchard and the Soil Conservation District (2001, 2011)


The Chico is one of the premiere destinations in Colorado for birding and wildlife viewing.

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Bird Banding

Learn more about this process and what we learn from it.

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Our ranch management is ecologically focused.

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