By: Leopold Conservation Award Program
The fifth-generation Coleman Ranch consists of irrigated meadows and mixed short- and tallgrass prairie in Saguache, located approximately 200 miles southwest of Denver. The ranch, owned and operated by Jim and Frances Coleman, their son, Tim, and his wife, Teddi, has raised certifed natural organic beef under the Coleman Natural brand for almost 30 years.
The Colemans have made numerous efforts to preserve the natural integrity of their ranch. They were the first family ranch in the Saguache Creek area to protect their land with a conservation easement. Their property supports a diversity of wildlife, including several bird species, elk, mule deer, and cottontailes. Saguache Creek, which flows through their ranch, provides habitat for Rio Grande chub and cutthroat trout. The Colemans permit limited hunting and fishing on their land to manage these populations. They utilize rotational grazing, cross-fencing, and water facilities to prevent over-grazing and improve ranch forage.
"To me, this is what conservation is all about, to take care of what nature gave us," Frances Coleman said.
The Colemans make it a point to be involved in the larger agricultural community. Among other civic involvement, Jim has served for several years on the Canon City and San Luis Valley Cattlemen's Association, the Colorado Cattlemen's Association, and Resource Advisory Council for the Front Range Bureau of Land Management. Jim has been honored with Conservationist of the Year - Ranching Division in 2001 and was named San Luis Valley Cattleman of the Year in 2005.
Above all, the Coleman Family appreciates the relationship Aldo Leopold envisioned between individuals and their land.
"To understand land, you've got to become part of it," Jim Coleman said. "When you do that, you'll learn that it's always changing."