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Ranchette Management 101: Class covers the lay of the land

Folks who buy their little slice of heaven in the Roaring Fork Valley may want to tune in to Dennis Davidson’s five-week class, Quality Living on Your Rural Land, which begins Tuesday, March 5.

The class is held on Tuesday evenings, from 7 to 9 p.m., in the Garfield County Courthouse, Room 301, in Glenwood Springs.

There is no charge for the class, but donations will be gratefully accepted.



The class is limited to 25 students, so early reservations are recommended. To register call the Natural Resources Conservation office at 945-5494.

Davidson, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Glenwood Springs, will tell new landowners how to deal with such pressing concerns as water and irrigation and pasture and weed management.



Newcomers to the area who buy small ranches often have unrealistic ideas about just what their acreage will produce. Overgrazing – putting too many animals on too little pasture – is a problem that increasingly occurs in the county, Davidson said.

Most small land holdings don’t produce enough grass to feed one horse or cow, Davidson said, “unless you have 40 acres or more.”

“A lot of people” try to keep a horse or a few cows on their property “until it’s down to dirt and weeds,” he said.

The aim of the class is to give newcomers a realistic picture of just what they can expect of their 10-acre ranchette in rural Garfield County.

In the class, Davidson will cover how soils in our arid county are formed, and what factors contribute to erosion.

County vegetation manager Steve Anthony will come in as a guest speaker to discuss invasive noxious weeds and how to prevent their spread.

Davidson also gives tips about proper pasture irrigation, and what plants and trees do best in local climate and soil conditions.

Cash crops like hay are usually not an option on small acreage.

“What we get off these small farms is not a cash crop but the rural living experience,” Davidson said. “Very seldom is it an economic thing.”

The class will conclude with a tour of one of the participant’s properties.

“We walk it and talk it” and answer questions, Davidson said.

The idea of the class is the proper use of the land’s natural resources.

“The principles are the same if it’s five acres or 5,000 acres,” he said.


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