New name. Same mission.
Palmer Land Trust is now Palmer Land Conservancy.
On a summer evening at the Borrego Ranch, magpies call to one another from across the wide banks of Currant Creek. While it is little more than a trickle in the heat of summer, the banks show evidence of higher flows and flash floods. Like the centuries-old farm equipment that now lies in the field, the channel could tell stories of scarcity and plenty, hard times and good. Cows meander across fields of bluegrass in the shadow of Eagle Mountain, a rocky, granite-topped sentinel. The 637-acre ranch property is nestled between mountains in the Arkansas River Basin, in eastern Fremont County on Highway 9. In the spring the creek runs higher, and access to two ditches allows for irrigation along the property, where the family has run cattle and tended hayfields for three generations.
“When I was a little girl,” says ranch owner Shawn Borrego, who also owns The Lucky Stop gift shop in nearby Cañon City, “this field used to grow as high as my waist and we could get two cuttings of hay.” This year has been a bit more difficult. Farming and ranching are demanding jobs. The upkeep of irrigation pipes, animals, and general maintenance on buildings can be overwhelming. But Shawn and her husband are determined to keep the ranch from being developed into 35-acre lots, a fate that surrounding properties have experienced. It’s why they're in the process of placing a conservation easement on the property - to ensure that the ranch remains forever remains undeveloped, and to preserve their family ranching.
To help further the likelihood of the ranch being conserved, earlier in June Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) awarded a $50,000 transaction cost grant to help cover the costs associated with conserving the property. “We are grateful for the opportunity to help conserve this important working ranch and to support the next generation of ranchers,” said Rebecca Jewett, President and CEO of Palmer Land Trust. “Working agricultural lands and the hardworking people who steward them are essential to ensuring our local food supply.”
The Borrego Ranch epitomizes the southern Colorado landscape. While the cattle operation and hay fields occupy the southern portion of the property, the remaining acreage wraps round to High Park Road - a leg of the Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway. The mountainous, rugged landscape rises over 1,000 feet from the valley floor. Lodgepole pines, piñon pines, and junipers cover the ground, offering respite and habitat for a variety of wildlife species, including black bear, elk, and mule deer. The Gold Belt Byway is part of a national scenic byway network that showcases rural and iconic landscapes across America.
Palmer is thankful for the opportunity to help conserve open spaces across southern Colorado. This successful partnership between the Borrego family, GOCO, and Palmer emphasizes the spirit of conservation in our rural communities. For generations to come, the ranch will remain as it is today - a working agricultural operation that also offers awe-inspiring views for people, and respite for wildlife in the Arkansas River Valley. Without a doubt, the call of the magpies will continue to carry across the property every evening as the sun sets behind Eagle Mountain.