Colorado Conservation Success Stories

Browse our Growing Library of Success Stories

Hugh Hammond Bennett: The Story of America’s Private Lands Conservation Movement


This video is the story of a young scientist, Hugh Hammond Bennett, who recognized 80 years ago that the United States was at risk of losing it’s most important resource – its soil. He made it his mission to change the trajectory of agriculture at a time of great crisis and to provide farmers and ranchers with the information and tools they needed to be sustainable.

This 21 minute video is the story of the conservation movement that Hugh Hammond Bennett began and includes interesting insights into the policies and structures that he set up that we continue to rely on today. His work revealed so much of what we’re rediscovering and renaming as “regenerative agriculture.”


Half Circle Cross Ranch


For Colby and McKenzie Pace, raising beef cattle includes keeping a sharp eye on preventing overgrazing and noxious weeds and seeking out ways to improve their land for nesting and migrating shorebirds.  This forward-thinking approach to livestock and wildlife management earned the Coalville couple — and their Half Circle Cross Ranch — the 2020 Utah Leopold Conservation Award.


Healthy and Fire-Resilient Forests with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation


This video from Washington Policy Center with cooperation from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, sheds light on how the tribes manage forests to be more healthy using commercial harvests, thinnings, and controlled burns to deal with the pressures of insect infestation, climate change, and decades of fire suppression.


John Nedrow is a big believer in conservation easements – they saved his family farm


Before knowing much about land trusts, Ashton farmer John Nedrow thought they were some kind of sinister force seeking to take over his farm and force landowners off their property.

“Back then, I thought they were the enemy,” Nedrow said in an interview on his alfalfa and malt-barley farm, which straddles the banks of the famed Henrys Fork River, a blue-ribbon trout stream. “I thought they wanted to turn this whole area into national park.”


When Conservation Happens Collaboratively


When Heather Dutton, fresh out of undergraduate school at the Warner College of Natural Resources and graduate school in the College of Agriculture at Colorado State University, began her first job working for a non-profit river restoration organization in the San Luis Valley, she was thrilled. She also felt confident that her technical training in restoration ecology had prepared her for the challenges she’d soon be facing.

Heather was in for a surprise.


Craig and Conni French always considered themselves good land stewards

Their introduction to holistic ranch management techniques called into question long-held, traditional ways of thinking. The drastic changes that followed required a leap of faith for the fourth-generation ranchers. They traded harvesting hay for grazing methods that let their cattle harvest the forage themselves. Such changes didn’t happen overnight, and each came with its own risk and learning curve.


Brown’s Ranch in North Dakota: Guided by the “divine”


Like almost everyone else in his rural community, Gabe had been farming and ranching using conventional methods since purchasing his Brown’s Ranch from the parents of his wife Shelly in 1991. Possibly because he had not grown up on a farm, Gabe found that he was constantly asking the question, “why do we do things this way?”


The Roots of the General Mills Regenerative Agriculture Program


The nonprofit Soil Health Academy (SHA) is just one of many initiatives spawned by regenerative agriculture guru Gabe Brown in collaboration with additional expert partners. SHA holds regenerative agriculture workshops around the country that are open to anyone who’s interested, and they are routinely sold out.


Florida Partnership Enables Landscape-Level Prescribed Burn


On March 2, 2018, a large prescribed burn occurred at the Yellow River Water Management Area in Santa Rosa County, Florida, which is managed by the Northwest Florida Water Management District. Weather and atmospheric conditions were ideal and resources were available for the Florida Forest Service to approve the burn permit. Aerial ignition via helicopter started the fire systematically across the landscape. Ground firing and monitoring crews, consisting of 15 personnel were stationed at the tract perimeter as ground support during the burn.


Prescribed Fire Program Reduces Wildfire Severity


Over four long days in late March 2011, the most severe wildfire outbreak in a decade occurred at Eglin Air Force Base, located near Destin, Florida (Fig. 1). A persistent drought, 20 mph winds and low humidity, combined with 12-15 arson fires on the property, resulted in 6,000 acres burned in a matter of days. Due to Eglin’s aggressive prescribed fire program, the March 2011 wildfire severity and acres burned were significantly reduced. Without this regular fuel reduction, anywhere from 10-12,000 acres could have burned just on the Eglin side, with untold acres burned and property damaged north of Interstate 10.


Creating a Fire Resilient Landscape in the Pisgah National Forest


On July 14, 2015, a lightning strike ignited a wildfire on Bald Knob in the Grandfather Ranger District (GRD) of the Pisgah National Forest. Only 30 miles outside of Asheville, North Carolina and on rugged terrain difficult to access, the wildfire may have posed greater threat had it not been adjacent to areas containing recent fuel treatments (prescribed fire) and wildfires. These treatments, as part of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), reduced fire fuel loads in the forest and enabled the Bald Knob fire to safely burn while protecting firefighters, local residents, structures, power line corridors, communication towers, and Forest Service property and surrounding land. Fuel treatments positively influenced the fire’s spread and allowed firefighting efforts to truly focus on protection of private properties. The inaccessible terrain as well as the confine and contain strategy allowed ample time to keep the effected community well informed of current fire behavior, smoke impacts and management plans for the fire.


Wineinger-Davis Ranch


Wineinger-Davis RanchRussell and Tricia Davis’ Wineinger-Davis Ranch, located in Lincoln and Crowley Counties, was established in 1938 as a 400 acre livestock operation. It currently consists of over 12,000 acres. Ranch operations include beef production, birding, ecotourism, agri-tourism, and hunting.


Visintainer Sheep Co.


Visintainer Sheep Co.A deep passion for the land entrusted to them, and a willingness to embrace and adapt to change, has kept the Visintainers at the forefront of innovative ranch management.


Turkey Creek Ranch


Turkey Creek RanchTurkey Creek Ranch, sandwiched between the U.S. Army’s Fort Carson and the growing urban community of Pueblo West, is owned and operated by Gary and Georgia Walker, and consists of approximately 65,000 deeded acres managed for both wildlife and livestock.


Stacked Lazy 3 Ranch


Stacked Lazy 3 RanchThe Tureceks have ranched and farmed on the eastern plains of Colorado since 1910. Over the last 36 years, Keven and Sandi Turecek have combined land from both sides of the family to create what is now the Stacked Lazy 3 Ranch, a cow/calf and dryland wheat business comprised of 5,000 acres of farmland and 30,000 acres of pasture.


Stanko Ranch


Stanko RanchJim and Jo Stanko’s ranch, near Steamboat Springs, has been in the family since 1907. Their love for their land is evident in that Jim cites the ranch’s centennial anniversary as one of the greatest accomplishments of his life.


San Isabel Ranch


San Isabel RanchThe San Isabel Ranch, located in Westcliffe, Colorado has a 135 year history of agriculture. The success of the ranch can largely be attributed to the late Dr. Ben Kettle and his wife, Bet. The operation is now run by the Kettles’ daughter, Sara Shields, and her husband, Mike, but Bet is still very much involved.


Rusk Hereford Ranch


Rusk Hereford RanchBased on the outstanding management of key ranches in the northern half of the Wet Mountain Valley, Randy and Claricy’s children will represent the family’s 5th generation working and caring for the lands between the scenic Sangre de CristoMountains and the Wet Mountains. The Rusk’s have led the way in Custer County with progressive ranch management and some of the first conservation easements to slow the expansion of subdivision into the Valley’s working lands. In addition to the Rusk Hereford Ranch, the Rusks lease and manage the Kennicott, Beckwith and BJP Ranches. Randy and Claricy serve on many boards, associations, and foundations, demonstrating a true commitment to leadership and civic responsibility within their community and throughout the industry.


Rancho Largo Cattle Company


Rancho Largo Cattle CompanyLocated southwest of Fowler, Rancho Largo Cattle Company is a 14,000-acre cow/calf and stocker cattle ranch managed by Grady, and co-owned with his former college roommate Robert Lovelace. Depending on weather and grass availability, Grady adjusts his numbers of cows, calves and stocker cattle through buying and selling, making him less dependent on one section of the industry.


Pipe Springs Ranch


Pipe Springs RanchSiblings Jo Ann McEndree, Kaye Kasza, Steve McEndree and Cathy Tebay are fourth generation ranchers who are highly committed to the economic and environmental health of their Pipe Springs Ranch, located near Springfield, so it can be passed on to future generations.