Turkey Creek Ranch
By: Leopold Conservation Award Program
Turkey 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.
The Walkers’ ranch has been described as an island of intact natural systems, native species and quiet, open spaces. It is home to significant populations of three rare, indigenous plants and native wildlife species including antelope, elk, deer, pronghorn and wild turkey. Management decisions, including even basic visitation to some areas of the property, are governed by the potential impact on wildlife.
“Few, if any, ranches of such size and natural condition remain so close to a major Colorado metropolitan area, a testament to the landowner who values his home and the land surrounding it for far more than development value,” wrote Matt Moorhead of The Nature Conservancy in a nomination letter.
The act of cattle ranching and wildlife management go hand in hand, and the life’s work of the Walkers proves it. Under a Safe Harbor Agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they successfully re-introduced black footed ferrets, which were once thought to be extinct. A total of 55 ferrets were released on the ranch in 2013, reviving the species’ presence in the region and providing a natural predator of the prairie dog.
The Walkers’ forethought and long term planning has also included the installation of pipelines, water storage tanks and stock ponds, playing an integral role in the viability of the Turkey Creek Ranch as a home to livestock and wildlife. The Walkers are lauded by community leaders and fellow ranchers for their steadfast commitment to the land, wildlife and environment for the benefit of generations to come.