McElroy Ranch West Conservation Easement

McElroy West Ranch

McElroy West Ranch, Photo by John Fielder

This 548-acre conservation easement was purchased by The Conservation Fund with funds from Great Outdoors Colorado, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Gates Family Foundation on December 8, 2014. The Conservation Fund immediately assigned the conservation easement to the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust. The Conservation Fund partnered with the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust on this project.

Water rights encumbered.

Conservation Values Protected:

Scenic Open Space: The property is highly visible by the public from numerous locations: the Town of Kremmling (bordering the property on the north), the Colorado River Headwaters National Scenic & Historic Byway US Highway 40 (north of the property), on Colorado Highway 9 (north and east of the property), Amtrak National Rail Service (the Union Pacific Railroad tracks form the northern boundary of the property), flights arriving and leaving McElroy Airfield (northeast of the property), BLM’s Junction Butte Wetlands (east of the property), and the extensive public BLM lands adjacent to the property. The scenic and agricultural open space is also enjoyed by those boating or fishing in the Colorado River, which meanders for two miles through the property, and Muddy Creek, which flows for 1.5 miles through the property. The McElroy Ranch West parcel is located directly west of the McElroy Ranch East parcel conservation easement, which adjoins the BLM Junction Butte Wetlands.

Agricultural Open Space: The property has been owned by the McElroy family for four generations, the McElroy Ranch has been in agricultural production for over a century and the McElroys are deeply rooted in the area’s ranching community. Henry McElroy, great-grandfather of the current generation, first put the ranch together. His son and grandson devoted their entire lives to stewardship of the McElroy Ranch and to the Colorado River and Muddy Creek that run through it. Today the ranch is operated and managed by a fifth generation of children involved in the day-to-day operations.

Wildlife Habitat: The Colorado River and its adjacent wetlands on the property provide key wildlife habitat for a diversity of species, including the greater sage-grouse, the Northern leopard frog, the bald eagle, waterfowl and other birds, mammals and fish. Colorado Parks and Wildlife considered this stretch of the Colorado River a High Quality Trout Fishery for brown and rainbow trout. The Colorado River and Muddy Creek also provide habitat for the blue head sucker, flannel mouth sucker and round tail chub.