Montezuma Land Conservancy Local People Protecting Local Land
Pat and Marie Owens on their conserved property.
“By placing our small farm in a conservation easement, we will ensure this ‘little plot of open space’ will never be subdivide or developed. It will remain a productive hay farm and open space in perpetuity” Ann Marie Owens.
T H A N K YO U TO O U R P L AT I N U M L E V E L C O N S E RVAT I O N PA RT N E R B U S I N E S S M E M B E R S
MD TITLE COMPANY
Serving Montezuma & Dolores Counties
PEOPLE AND PLACE—CONNECTED There are so many qualities that make our area a spectacular place to live. Southwest Colorado provides us all with expansive views, space to breathe, good soils for agriculture, and pristine wildlife habitat for hunting, fishing, camping, and boating. It is a rural way of life that we all value, and one we must work to protect. It is a way of life that brings folks here, and for some it is born into their blood—either way, it is difficult not to become part of this land.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE, HERE…
Travis Custer Executive Director
For twenty years the Montezuma Land Conservancy has been here to help protect this place, and our rural way of life. We do this by providing direct assistance to landowners to help them leave a lasting legacy by protecting their land for generations to come. Balancing new development with the importance of maintaining lands for farming and ranching, wildlife, and open space is important for our history and our future economic success. It is important for our community. Additionally, we’re here to help give back to our community by creating programs that enhance learning for youth and adults. We work closely with our partners like the High Desert Conservation District, Montezuma Inspire Coalition and other local organizations to create programs that
2 Y Montezuma Land Conservancy
encourage an appreciation of ranching, farming, and wildlife. By providing support to other community groups interested in connecting people to the outdoors, the Land Conservancy is helping to ensure that everyone has a chance to experience the amazing lands we all love and inspire them to protect them into the future.
WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU… Montezuma Land Conservancy is a local, community supported organization. Without the dedication of our membership, landowners, and community partners we could not do this work. To find out more about volunteering—or about how you can join MLC call our office at (970) 565-1664, and the staff or myself will be happy to talk with you. If you’d like to find out more, check us out on Facebook or sign up for our free e-Newsletter (send your email address to email@example.com). We post news, programs and events, trainings, and stories about the land and people who live here. Together, we can conserve and celebrate the land we hold so dear.
With dedication and gratitude,
Montezuma Land Conservancy BY T H E N U M B E R S
Families have partnered with MLC to protect their land Acres of critical Gunnison sage-grouse habitat protected
4 170 32
Major elk migration corridors protected
Miles of river and stream habitat protected
conserved acres + Total (more than 90 percent are currently working farms and ranches)
MONTEZUMA LAND CONSERVANCY partners with our community to connect with, conserve, and enhance southwest Colorado’s agricultural, scenic, and recreational lands and wildlife habitat for today and future generations. To learn more about Montezuma Land Conservancy please go to our website at www.montezumaland.org or give us a call at (970) 565-1664
Acres open to hiking and biking in Cortez
Property owned and operated by MLC
88 73 6,738
Total protected properties
The reason we wanted to do the easement is to save the ranch for open space to ensure that our family and grandkids have a place to shoot guns, run around and not see houses. –Terry Cox.
Montezuma Land Conservancy Y
Farmers, L O C A L
Food L O C A L
When Jack and Patricia Burk moved back to Patricia’s family home in the Mancos Valley in 2002, they knew they wanted to get back into the cattle business, but they also knew they weren’t going to be out bucking hay and moving water forever. At the same time, Dustin Stein, a Denver native, had recently moved to southwest Colorado and started Stubborn Farm by leasing land. He quickly recognized that his dream of owning his own ranch was near impossible financially. Stein faced the same hurdles many young people do who try to break into the ag business: He didn’t come from a farming family and had no land to his name. Good farm ground, which is valued by its development potential and not agricultural value, is out of reach for most young people looking to start ranching. Access to affordable land is one of the biggest barriers to young people interested in farming and ranching. At the same time, the average age of a farmer in Montezuma County - and much of the country - is creeping over
4 Y Montezuma Land Conservancy
60. These two issues are careening together and could eventually spell catastrophe for our agriculture base in southwest Colorado. With the Burk’s fitting the latter demographic and wanting their growing grass-fed cattle operation to continue, they sought out a solution and found one in Stein, who by that point was looking for creative ways to get his operation growing. A sweat for equity relationship was created where Stein would help the Burks’ grow their operation and in return a bit of land would be passed on to Stein over time. Enter the Burk Beef/Stubborn Farm Partnership. Quicker than perhaps they had hoped, the new partnership proved fruitful and with the operation growing, Jack and Patrica needed more land and purchased a conserved property on the Mancos River. “People like the Burks are the only safety net young producers have to ensure opportunities for the future,” Stein said.
Simply put, I wouldn’t be able
to have a career in agriculture if it wasn’t for people like the Burks and their involvement with MLC,” Dustin said. “The fact that there was a great piece of ground just south of us with an easement on it has allowed the
operation to grow. Who knows if
that land would have even still been farm ground without the protection.
By partnering with Burk Beef and working a conserved ranch, Dustin has been able to grow Stubborn Farm & Burk Beef. Together, the operation has thrived with the herd growing from 10 mother cows to 36.
Starting in 2016, local food saw another outlet. Partnering with other local farms in Mancos, Dustin helped form the Mancos Valley CSA, which provides consumers with a direct link to local food.
Their locally raised beef can be found at Absolute Bakery & Cafe and at the Durango Farmers Market, among other places.
The CSA, which has a grass-fed beef option from Stubborn Farm & Burk Beef, offers locals 20 weeks of local food grown 100 percent right in Mancos. In its first year, the CSA supplied local food to more than 20 families.
“Simply put, I wouldn’t be able to have a career in agriculture if it wasn’t for people like the Burks and their involvement with MLC,” Stein said. “The fact that there was a great piece of ground just south of us with an easement on it has allowed the operation to grow. Who knows if that land would have even still been farm ground without the protection.”
“I know it means a lot to them to see our cows out on healthy, beautiful land that will ALWAYS be there,” Stein said. “There’s almost a sense of pride that comes from our customers in that they know they are contributing to the preservation of healthy land in the Mancos Valley...and getting some really good beef out of the deal too! The best way to keep operations like ours going is to cut a check to MLC. The second best way is to buy food from a young producer on conserved land.”
LEARN MORE: Stubborn Farm & Burk Beef or the Mancos Valley CSA: firstname.lastname@example.org
Montezuma Land Conservancy Y
Future FOR THE
At the Montezuma Land Conservancy we are committed to working with landowners to forever protect and steward the land that we hold in conservation easements. As agricultural lands continue to transition and change hands, who will be around to make sure these special places remain valuable working lands in our community? At MLC we are looking to the future to answer this question, and the future sits in the hands of the children in our community. We are working to connect those children to nature, and building an understanding of conservation and our agricultural heritage. We know that through this connection people grow to love land, and protecting it becomes a priority. Thanks to a generous gift from community members, a local farm is expanding into an outdoor classroom for local students and adults. “Fozzie’s Farm” is 83 acres of irrigated hay fields and pasture that now welcomes field trips, workshops, and service based learning. In just the first year of owning the farm, MLC has hosted over 300 kids and 120
6 Y Montezuma Land Conservancy
adults. Students are getting hands-on experience learning about soil health, water resources, responsible grazing practices, wildlife, pollinators, and careers in agriculture. Local producers and landowners have gained experience identifying weeds, managing irrigation water, locating archaeological sites, and monitoring pasture health. These handson opportunities provide youth and adults with a chance to connect to the natural world and the people who put food on our plates. As one third grader recently observed, “Tomatoes don’t grow at Walmart.” These connections to farming and land are an important step to promoting a healthy future for agriculture in our community and a shared desire to protect land. By bringing together partner organizations and community volunteers, Fozzie’s Farm has inspired many in the community to be a part of building this future. This kind of collaboration is so inspiring, and more is needed. Montezuma Land Conservancy will continue to create
Local People Protecting Local Land more opportunities for education and improving the visitor experience. With support from local architects and builders we are working to design a classroom for more workshops and field trips throughout the year, and housing for future farm workers and interns. We are also working with local ranchers and partner agencies to expand the farming operation, maintaining the working agricultural component of the farm.
The broader vision, developed with input from local farmers, educators, and service providers, will enable us to continue planting the seeds and nurturing the growth of future farmers. We believe this will yield a dynamic crop of young people who are passionate about agriculture and conservation, and protecting the land we call home. With your help we can build a brighter future for our youth, and our farms from the ground up!
Check out our website www.montezumaland.org or call us (970) 565-1664
MEMBERSHIP: Become a member of the Montezuma Land Conservancy today at www.montezumaland.org
Montezuma Land Conservancy Y
T O O U R G O L D A N D S I LV E R L E V E L C O N S E R VAT I O N PA RT N E R B U S I N E S S M E M B E R S F O R T H E I R S U P P O RT
GOLD S I LV E R
S O U T H W E ST RESTORATION SERVICES
MAC WYMAN M.D.