Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust Protects Ranch on Colorado River

May 13, 2015

Read the E&E NEWS REPORT on this project.

Read the USDA Blog on this success story.

Big news today from our partner: Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust! And a big thank you to the Yust family for their generosity and gift to future generations–protecting sage grouse and trout habitat and river recreation all together. This achievement truly shows the power of  partnerships. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service-led Sage Grouse Initiative is proud to be one of the funders through Farm Bill conservation easement programs slated for sage grouse habitat. 

(Photo of Yust Ranch @John Fielder)












Press Contact:
Erik Glenn, Acting Executive Director
Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust


KREMMLING, CO   The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) recently conserved one of the state’s spectacular working ranches along both the Colorado and Blue Rivers in Grand County near Kremmling. The Yust family’s desire to leave an intact working ranch legacy resulted in a 995-acre conservation easement held by CCALT.

“With places like Yust Ranch, it’s easy to say that Colorado is home to some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes,” U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (CO) said. “As we’ve seen first-hand on this working ranch, active cattle production can co-exist with thriving sagebrush habitat and wildlife. Everyone involved in finally making this conservation easement a reality should be very proud.”

Sen. Bennet visited the ranch in 2014 to see the benefits of Farm Bill conservation programs, including the Sage Grouse Initiative, a partnership launched by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in 2010.

Fifth generation rancher Jay Yust grew up ranching here and, with his father Jim, shares a passion for the family’s home and their land.

“The easement absolutely made this ranch more economically viable, and it will stay that way in the future whether we’re here or not,” he said.

The Yust family has tended their ranch with a strong sense of stewardship for wildlife as well as their livestock operation. The ranch is home to healthy populations of sage grouse, mule deer, elk, pronghorn and moose. Bald eagles routinely roost in the cottonwoods that line the Blue River.

“This area is one of Colorado’s truly special places,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “Keeping this large landscape together provides not only important habitat for sage grouse, but also conserves river corridors that nourish ranchers, recreation and other wild animals. Protecting these elements sustains our environment, economy and quality of life.”

Strong partnerships and dedication from the Yusts and the CCALT staff brought a seven-year project across the finish line. The significance for sage grouse led to funding from the Farm Bill via the Sage Grouse Initiative. Great Outdoors Colorado (lottery funded), Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, and the Gates Family Foundation all stepped up to contribute dollars to purchase the easement.

Noted Colorado photographer John Fielder has documented the beauty of a ranch in three of his books and inspired partners to join together for an easement that protects both sagebrush country and the irrigated hay meadows at the confluence of the Blue and Colorado Rivers.  The easement includes a mile and half of the Blue River on both sides and over three miles of the south side of the Colorado River.



The Colorado River flows through the Yust property. The conservation easement includes the confluence of the Colorado and Blue Rivers and connects into the sagebrush country that is important to sage grouse–linking trout, recreation and sage grouse together. Photo credit: John Fielder, all rights reserved.

Senator Bennet (CO) looks at map of Yust property with Jim Yust (left) and son Jay Yust (right) CCALT photo.

Senator Bennet (CO) looks at map of Yust property with Jim Yust (left) and son Jay Yust (right).

The Sage Grouse Initiative is a partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to proactively conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life. This initiative is part of Working Lands For Wildlife, which is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.