Date: 9/1/19 10:24 am
From: kickback <bill_kosar...>
Subject: [cobirds] Potential loss of Chico Ranch for birding (Pueblo and El Paso counties)
I read this article in the recent newsletter from the Colorado Springs
Aiken Audubon Society. I don't know anything beyond what the article states
but if all of the facts in it are correct I think we need to send input to
appropriate individuals, especially since it sounds like the state owns
Chico Ranch.

Comments welcome!

Bill Kosar

*CHICO BASIN RANCH CONCERNS*

* For the past 20 years, Colorado Springs birders—in fact, birders across
the state—have been accustomed to wide access to the migratory stopover
known as Chico Basin Ranch. That may be about to change. Ranchlands (Duke
Phillips and family) holds the lease for Chico from the State Land Board
(SLB), which owns the property. The 25-year lease expires in 2024. In their
August meeting notes, the SLB devoted 33 pages to re-evaluating the Chico
lease and increasing revenue. While the proposed options include selling
the entire property for $33 million or continuing to lease to one entity,
it would be more profitable for them to split up the ranch. The preferred
option seems to be dividing the property into three separate ranches, and
potentially selling one off. Public access would likely be denied. Almost
half (44%) of Chico is designated into the Stewardship Trust. “The
designation is focused on large areas of intact, high quality Central
Shortgrass Prairie that include globally significant natural plant
communities and imperiled species” (SLB August 2019 Board Meeting
Information). Dividing the ranch would obviously fragment wildlife habitat
due to increased fencing, new ranch buildings, and differing management
styles. This is the largest tract of undeveloped land owned by SLB, and the
lack of fragmentation only increases its conservation value as a wildlife
and migratory corridor. It’s possible that SLB would put a conservation
easement on any property it sold, but that would be a long shot. The State
Land Board will be meeting in El Paso County on September 11 and 12.*

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