The Crested Butte Land Trust is dedicated to working with willing landowners to continue protecting ranchlands vital to the Gunnison Valley’s economy, heritage, and way of life. Conserving working ranchlands keeps our rural legacy alive while supporting sustainable agriculture, fostering healthy ecosystems and clean waterways, and maintaining the open, wild landscapes and views of the Gunnison Valley. Longtime ranching families have been in production for over 100 years, and a core pillar of our mission is to continue conserving ranchlands for the benefit of future generations.
It is important to the Crested Butte Land Trust to continue providing access to historic grazing lands for ranching families, as cattle drives and movement of cattle down valley from the high country has been essential to operations for generations. The Land Trust works with ranchers to provide grazing leases in many Land Trust properties such as the Lower Loop area, Smith Hill, Gunsight Bridge, and the Rozman Ranch.
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a qualified entity, like the Crested Butte Land Trust, and a landowner that places restrictions on their property. Conservation easements restrict or extinguish development rights in order to permanently conserve the land and protect certain resources such as wildlife habitats, agricultural use, or scenic views. Each easement is unique and tailored to the conservation goals of the landowner. Conservation easements can provide tax and cash benefits to the landowners, as well as ecological and economic benefits to the entire community.
The Land Trust has owned the Robinson Parcel, a piece of land that natrually separates the Towns of Crested Butte and Mt Crested Butte, since 1998. This property is still maintained today by the Rozman family, specifically Lois and Rudy Rozman, and it contains notable wetlands, important wildlife habitat, and beautiful upland hay meadows. The popular Rec Path, which connects the Towns, runs through the Robinson Parcel and was made possible by the Rozman family’s partnership with the Land Trust.
To ensure that the land is properly irrigated, the Rozmans and the Land Trust maintain a ditch that transports water nearly a mile from Washington Gulch to the Robinson hay meadows. This ditch has been in continuous use since it was built by Rudy’s step-grandfather in the early 1900s, and the Land Trust and Rozmans continue to take care of these verdant meadows through a regimented process of irrigation, haying, and grazing.
Located about six miles south of the Town of Crested Butte, the Niccoli Ranch has been used for agriculture for over 100 years. This area is important for hay production and cattle grazing and serves as a large wildlife corridor. The Crested Butte Land Trust worked with Bob Niccoli to place a conservation easement on 37 acres in 2006. Since then, 2.5 acres of this land have been utilized for the Glacier Community Farm project in partnership with the Mountain Roots Food Project. This easement and farm allows for food production addressing food insecurity and immediate food needs for the community.
Our economy, wildlife habitat, and clean waters depend on the future of our land. Many of the valley’s private lands are owned by ranchers who are committed to stewardship and conservation. Continuing this legacy through easements, best land management practices, and agricultural leases is essential for land conservation and to the Land Trust’s mission.
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