How the Future of Pueblo County Farming May Call for Dry-up of Less Productive Farmlands

November 29, 2021

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How the Future of Pueblo County Farming May Call for Dry-up of Less Productive Farmlands

Article from The Pueblo Chieftain by Tracy Harmon

Agriculture’s significant multi-million dollar contribution to Pueblo County’s economy is the focus of a new economic impact study that could guide the future demise of farmlands along the Bessemer Ditch, hopefully, without a huge economic hit to vibrant farming communities.

When the Pueblo Board of Water Works purchased one-third of the Bessemer Ditch irrigated farmland water rights in 2009 from local farmers, it was looking to accommodate future growth in Pueblo. The purchase set in motion what will be the removal of irrigation water from more than 5,000 acres of farmland in the St. Charles Mesa, Vineland and Avondale areas. 

A new study “The Economic Impact of Dry-Up on Colorado’s Bessemer Ditch,” assesses— and proposes approaches to mitigate — the dry up of that farmland which contributes between $8.4 million to $17 million to Pueblo County’s economy each year. The report was prepared on behalf of the Palmer Land Conservancy which is leading the Bessemer Farmland Conservation Project effort — with many partners — to ensure a vital future for Pueblo County’s farmland.

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