Bair Family Ranch
An additional benefit to saving Bair Ranch is the protection of recreation access along three miles of the Colorado River. Photo by Linda Mirro/iStockphoto.com
At A Glance
"As a third-generation ranching family in Colorado, we have been stewards of one of the most extraordinary natural areas in the world for more than 90 years. This ranch has sustained our family and defined our heritage. When I asked my children they said they would rather stay and keep up the tradition of hard work than sell and go someplace else, and this project allows us to do that. I hope this pioneering project helps other ranching families find a way to protect their way of life." — Craig Bair
The Conservation Fund is committed to working with ranching families to protect the rugged expanses that support rural economies, protect wildlife habitat and preserve a uniquely American way of life.
Like many ranchers across the West, Craig Bair and his brother LeGrande were at a crossroads: sprawling subdivisions are devouring the wide-open vistas that once defined the region’s heritage. Seeking relief from drought and soaring property taxes, the family debated for years whether to sell their historic sheep ranch to developers. The land—one of the last open areas visible from Interstate 70 west of Vail—was valued at more than $20 million.
The Bairs opted to stay and turned to the Fund to help them craft a solution that would protect the landscape and generate some much-needed cash to consolidate ownership within the family and keep the land working. In 2004, in partnership with Eagle Valley Land Trust, the Fund purchased a conservation easement on the 4,800-acre property, permanently protecting the ranch, its scenic vistas and wildlife habitat from development.
Private donations from more than 1,100 local residents were leveraged with assistance from the Bureau of Land Management, Eagle County, Garfield County and Great Outdoors Colorado to complete the transaction.
In addition to enhancing public recreation opportunities along three miles of the Colorado River, the conservation agreement safeguards the entrance to Glenwood Canyon and provides migration corridors for mule deer, black bear and mountain lion. The land will remain a working ranch under ownership by the Bair family.