Halden Wofford and the Hi Beams, one of Colorado’s top bands, will be rocking a sold-out crowd Saturday night at Aspen Valley Land Trust’s Save the Land Dance. The event takes place in a large tent placed in a hay field on the John Nieslanik Ranch above Carbondale at the base of Mount Sopris. The evening promises stunning views, good food from Hickory House, and a crowd of 400 conservation landowners, local land conservation supporters and guests from around the country. A silent and live auction, cocktails and guest photos round out the entertainment.
This year’s event will feature a sheepdog herding demonstration by Bridget Strang and her dog, Treat. The Strang Ranch on Missouri Heights will be hosting the 2014 National Sheepdog Finals next month on Sept. 9-14. The national championship competition will feature the top sheepdog-handler teams in the U.S., and will be covered by network television. In addition to the sheepdog herding trials, there will be a competition for young sheepdogs, a dog agility exposition, food and craft booths, a lamb cooking demonstration and handlers’ recognition dinner. AVLT is the nonprofit beneficiary of tickets sales for the Finals.
The John Nieslanik family is hosting the Save the Land Dance for the first time this year. John and his sons Mark, Mike, Matt and Marty conserved their 167-acre ranch with AVLT in 2005. Today the third and fourth generations of the family raise cattle, hay and oats on the ranch, which covers the central portion of the mesa on White Hill just outside Carbondale.
Saturday’s event will be the 11th annual AVLT Save the Land Dance. It was held at the Strang Ranch for five years and at Tybar Ranch on Prince Creek Road for five years before moving to Nieslaniks’. The Dance is AVLT’s main fundraising event of the year and is an occasion to honor local landowners who have permanently conserved their property for agriculture, wildlife habitat and recreation.
Since its formation in 1967, AVLT has conserved almost 40,000 acres and over 60 miles of river and streamside riparian areas. Its service area stretches from the historic town site of Independence, which the land trust purchased in 2003 and later transferred to the U.S. Forest Service, to high country lands on the west slope of the Roan Plateau. AVLT also owns public parks in the Aspen area and several miles of public trails run through or along land conserved by AVLT.