Dolores River Valley Conservation Easement. A perpetual conservation easement will be acquired by the Montezuma Land Conservancy on 100 acres of the Truelsen Ranch. This will be the final phase of protecting this 416-acre ranch, which is the largest privately held parcel in the Dolores Valley. The property is bisected by the San Juan Skyway and is surrounded almost completely by the San Juan National Forest. The ranch shares more than four miles of boundary with public lands (See Map Attachment 2). From the San Juan Skyway, travelers enjoy the property's splendid mosaic of mountain meadows, summer livestock pasture, riparian forests, wetlands, beaver ponds, aspen and mixed coniferous forests and red sandstone outcrops. The property is bisected by the San Juan Skyway and 2.25 miles of the Dolores River and Rio Lado Creek (See Photos Attachment 3). Public forest access crosses the property at Roaring Fork Road, and the Rio Lado and Schoolhouse Trailheads. The property is an integral component of the upper Dolores River Valley viewshed, which is seriously threatened by increasing land development pressures. This part of the county is unzoned.
The owner of this property has agreed to this additional conservation easement on his ranch. In order to execute the easement, the following major elements will be implemented: 1) preparing the baseline documentation of conservation values upon which the easement will be based and monitored for stewardship; 2) drafting and negotiating the conservation easement; 3) preparing the environmental assessment; 4) preparing the title work; 5) appraising the property to determine the value of the easement; 6) legal review of all transaction documents; 7) acquiring the easement and recording such in the county real estate records.
Additional Resource Protection Activities. The conservation easement on the aforementioned property is one of seven "San Juan Skyway Initiative" projects that have just been awarded $4.3 million (see Attachment 1). However, these funds must be matched with an additional $6 million, which together will secure conservation easements on seven highly scenic ranches with excellent riparian and wildlife resources.
Considerable work remains and this request will help finance ongoing efforts to raise funds and continue the Skyway Coalition's legacy of protecting nationally significant resources.