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July 17, 2020Back to blog feed
The quiet intermontane valley of South Park is well known for its scenic views and abundant wildlife. Rolling grasslands give way to towering subalpine forests, and it’s as common to see graceful herds of Pronghorn antelope as it is to see grazing cattle and buffalo. Throughout the valley, various creeks and springs feed into the serpentine South Platte river. Surrounded by the Mosquito Range, Park Range, Tarryall Mountains, Puma Hills, Black and Thirtynine Mile Mountains, the awe-inspiring views in South Park epitomize Colorado’s majestic and vulnerable iconic landscapes.
Travelers on Hwy 285, Tarryall Road, and nearby San Isabel or Pike National Forests have likely unknowingly passed by the beautiful open spaces and abundant wildlife of Elk Springs Mountain Ranch, a 480-acre private property. As part of a bid to preserve and protect the land, Palmer Land Trust has partnered with the current landowners to conserve this natural landscape forever.
Originally part of the Coleman Ranch Homestead, the property once hosted a thriving cattle operation. Today, the historic buildings remain on the property and serve as a gentle reminder of the property’s past. Wilson Gulch and Snyder Creek, along with natural springs, provide perennial water to the property, and wetland acreage provides habitat for vulnerable species of birds and mammals. Wildlife, including black bear, mountain lion, mule deer, and dozens of species of raptors and migratory birds, are free to roam the property. As part of the South Park Potential Conservation Area (PCA) designated by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), the Elk Springs Mountain Ranch property features “very high biodiversity significance” and provides much-needed corridor protection and forage opportunities for several critical species.
The value of the property to both people and nature is undeniable. Wildlife will thrive from the uninterrupted connectivity between the forest and the ranch and passerby’s and visitors of PIke National Forest, which abuts the property, will enjoy the viewshed of an additional expanse of wide-open spaces. Thanks to Palmer’s role, the integrity of the open space will be preserved today and for future generations.