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Garfield Creek ranch conservation aids wildlife protection south of New Castle

Easement placed on 240-acre White Owl Ranch

The 240-acre White Owl Ranch property south of New Castle is being preserved through a donated conservation easement with the Aspen Valley Land Trust.
Courtesy AVLT

Wildlife movement and cattle grazing would benefit from the latest private land conservation easement coordinated through efforts of the Carbondale-based Aspen Valley Land Trust.

Sylvia and Matthew Ringer, owners of the White Owl Ranch in the Garfield Creek area south of New Castle, have donated a conservation easement to the AVLT for their 240-acre ranch property.

The ranch is defined by its rolling hills, covered with shrublands and meadows used for seasonal cattle grazing. It’s also prime wildlife habitat year round, according to an AVLT press release announcing the deal.



Combined with two other private conservation easements adjacent to the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area — the Stout and Triple J ranches — the White Owl Ranch easement will help create corridors for wildlife to move freely.

Land conservation also helps protect water and other natural resources, AVLT said in the announcement.



The Ringers purchased White Owl Ranch in 2016, where they are now raising a family. They will continue ownership of the property and maintain its agricultural use.

It and other conservation easements in the vicinity are intended to preserve the natural land qualities, and do not include public access, the AVLT emphasized.

Sylvia Ringer works as a U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wildlife biologist, which motivated her decision to conserve the ranch where she and her husband are now raising their family.

“We’re continually amazed that we have this opportunity to own and live in such a magnificent part of Colorado,” she said in the release. “We were drawn to this valley over 20 years ago to work in the public lands and we can’t imagine not conserving this place for our kids and the wildlife in this area.”

Added Matthew Ringer, “The rich diversity of animals and unhindered views are a constant reminder that we have made a very rewarding decision.”

White Owl Ranch is bordered by BLM land to the south, and the expansive Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area to the north, west and farther to the south straddling Garfield and Baldy creeks.

Much of the area provides open space for elk, mule deer, black bear, and mountain lion to forage, breed and migrate through, but with a proliferation of rural residences, AVLT notes in its assessment of the property.

“The role of land trusts is to help families protect their special places to ensure they will be here now and for future generations and to protect a family’s heritage and story,” AVLT Conservation Director Erin Quinn said. “The Ringers are the perfect example of why we are here — to help make a family’s conservation goals possible.”

AVLT has partnered with private landowners and community partners to preserve more than 43,000 acres of land (see the map) in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys.

It is also currently working to purchase the 141-acre Coffman Ranch near Carbondale, which AVLT plans to maintain as a working ranch while providing Roaring Fork River access and outdoor education opportunities.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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