Navajo River Watershed view south from Wolf Creek Pass.
The Fund is committed to working with ranching families to protect their lands and save their unique American way of life. In 2008, we helped conserve nearly 8,700 acres of Catspaw Ranch, located in Archuleta County. Working with Catspaw’s owners, we were able to protect their ranch through a Forest Legacy Program conservation easement, an agreement that permanently restricts the type and amount of development on the landowner’s property. This land preservation agreement complements other ongoing conservation efforts in the Navajo River watershed, the system of lands and waters linked to the river.
Our Efforts In The Navajo River Watershed
We have been involved in the conservation of lands within Navajo River watershed since 2000, protecting nearly 20,000 acres in the region. The Navajo River, one of Colorado’s most wild and remote rivers, rises in the rugged South San Juan Wilderness in the area south of Wolf Creek Pass.
The Colorado Conservation Partnership (CCP), a coalition of five of Colorado’s leading conservation organizations, including The Conservation Fund, identified this area as a high conservation priority because it borders existing protected lands and is one of the few remaining intact and pristine areas in the state.
Our partners in protecting Catspaw Ranch include the Colorado State Forest Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). Over the years, GOCO provided critical funding for our efforts in the Navajo River watershed, contributing nearly $5 million in lottery funds to place conservation easements on working ranches. GOCO provided matching funds for the Catspaw Ranch easement.
Forest Legacy Program
The Forest Legacy Program is a federally-funded program of the U.S. Forest Service that partners with states to support and protect environmentally sensitive forest lands. To maximize public benefits, the program focuses on the acquisition of portions of privately owned forest lands. It accomplishes this by purchasing conservation easements without removing the property from private ownership. Most of the easements restrict development, require sustainable forestry practices and protect other values at risk. Forest Legacy projects compete nationally for funding and are required to have matching funds in place.