Conservation deal helps Colorado hunters, anglers | VailDaily.com

Conservation deal helps Colorado hunters, anglers

Charlie Meyers
The Denver Post

Don’t talk to Tom Martin about sprouting seed, at least not when germination takes a full 10 years and, even when the bloom comes, he still finds those who’ll speak ill of the crop.

Following negotiations that began in 1999, a partnership has been formed to establish the Moyer Bar 45 Conservation Easement, a conglomeration of 3,400 acres in the Arkansas River Valley just south of Leadville.

The essence of this $4.8 million purchase, formalized last spring, is to protect this checkerboard parcel from development while providing a measure of hunting and public access.

As such, it is unique in the history of agreements involving the Colorado Division of Wildlife and private landowners and could serve as a prototype for future

statewide accords.

“This is a very complicated deal, no doubt. There’s been a lot of jealousy,°± said Martin, who later this month will mark his 31st anniversary as manager of the Leadville district.

For one-third of that time, the wildlife officer has engaged in endless negotiations during which agreement often seemed doomed to failure. Ultimately, DOW and Great Outdoors Colorado paid the Moyer family to concede future development rights to a property scattered among a dozen or so parcels in the Arkansas basin. The Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas, which holds an easement in the area, also participated in the pact. Half the money came from GOCO, the rest from DOW game cash funds.

For his efforts in the compact, Martin was given the Shikar-Safari Award as officer of the year.

The property encompasses several scattered segments: a major ranch parcel spanning the river, a piece of the river proper and a disjunctive series of inholdings farther upslope in Empire and Iowa gulches.

The crux of the agreement reserves 1,350 recreation acres, called Paddock State Wildlife Area, higher up in the range. Under a complex stipulation, this will be open to hunting for designated species during certain seasons as well as to

fishing on very small creek segments.

As Martin stated earlier, the provisions are complicated and very likely will continue to evolve over time.

While hunters puzzle out these details, anglers immediately will access the nine-tenths mile of the Arkansas River called the Reddy Fishing Access. This is located between the Crystal State Trust Lease on the upstream boundary to the highway overpass downstream.

The greater part of the easement, approximately 2,000 acres, will be maintained as a working cattle ranch, the key specification in the inheritance consent between the late Maxine Reddy and Anne Moyer, the current owner. That this legacy occurred without any element of birthright aroused discord among certain valley residents.

In effect, the agreement is pegged solely to Moyer’s agreement to maintain a conservation easement while continuing to operate a working ranch. This lower ranch property will remain private, closed to unauthorized public use.

While the arrangement has considerable importance as an immediate public gain, its more lasting benefit may be as a template for similar future strategies.

“Now we can think about how to manage ranchland from the standpoint of better grazing and wildlife management,” Martin said. “We don’t have to worry about subdividing.”