Pledged $55,000 to Help Preserve Cold Spring Ranch

Cold Spring Ranch

Cold Spring Ranch

1% for Open Space has recently pledged $55,000 to assist in the purchase of a conservation easement on 190 acres of Cold Spring Ranch. Owned by Myrtle and Michele Veltri, Cold Spring Ranch is situated at the gateway of one of the most picturesque valleys in the region, at the southern end of the Upper East River Valley. The Trust for Public Land is currently under contract with the Veltris to purchase the easement, which will ultimately be held by Colorado Open Lands for long-term conservation, stewardship and monitoring.
This funding supports Phase I of a two phase project with the Veltris. Phase I includes the current Veltri homesite, which they will be able to maintain, as well as the historic home and barn on the west side of Brush Creek Road which will continue to be used for agricultural purposes. While no residential use will be allowed in the historic home, the Veltris will have the ability to stabilize and perhaps restore it. Phase II of the conservation easement will protect approximately 120 acres, and includes the popular Strand Hill Trail. Completion of Phase II is anticipated within three or more years.
Funding from this easement will help the Veltris financially pursue a land exchange with the United States Forest Service in order to rectify a long-term boundary dispute involving their highly important calving meadow. The conservation easement allows the Veltris to maintain their property as a working cattle ranch. Additionally, the easement and land exchange provide the opportunity to re-open the popular Strand Hill Trail – access to which is through the Cold Spring Ranch. Public access to this trail was closed over three years ago, but will reopen this summer.
Cold Spring Ranch has been a working ranch since the 1870’s. The Veltri family purchased the ranch in 1932 as one of the founding ranching families in the East River Valley and they hope to continue ranching into the future. The ranch also possesses some of the most senior water rights in the Valley, as well as frontage on the East River. In addition to supporting the ranching operation, the water and associated vegetation support a variety of species’ habitat for the Gunnison sage grouse, Canada lynx, ptarmigan, elk, deer, mountain lion and black bear. Cold Spring Ranch is a high quality natural area with diverse wildlife habitat ranging from wetlands along the East River to sagebrush meadows on the upland regions.
The ranch buffers two areas of the Gunnison National Forest. As one of only three private land parcels along this stretch of the Upper East River, protecting it creates a critical conservation bridge between those two National Forest areas. Additionally, it abuts the Lazy F Bar Ranch owned by the Guerreri family, for whom 1% for Open Space also helped fund a conservation easement purchase in 1998.
The Trust for Public Land has also applied for a lottery-funded Great Outdoors Colorado grant and a Gunnison Valley Land Preservation Fund grant to help fund purchase of the conservation easement. Completion of the acquisition process for the conservation easement does depend on the award of these grant funds. The Gunnison Valley Land Preservation Board will meet later this month to make funding decisions and GOCO should make its final decision in the middle of June of this year. Other funding other project comes from the Town of Crested Butte and a private donation with the Veltris donating 25% of the land value.