From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Brandon Gee):
The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved spending $400,000 of taxpayer funds to help place 645 acres of the 3,950-acre Elkhead Ranch under a conservation easement to be held by the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. The easement is the third phase of an effort to protect the entire ranch. The easement lands include grazing pastures, hay fields, portions of Elkhead Creek, meadows, trees and wetlands. According to a news release, Elkhead Ranch “provides important habitat for numerous wildlife species including elk, deer, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, fox, sandhill cranes, Columbian sharp-tail grouse and greater sage grouse.”[…]
[Elkhead Ranch owner Heather Stirling] is contributing about two-thirds of the easement’s value, which means she is not being reimbursed for about 66 percent of the property value lost by placing it in a conservation easement. “This is not only beautiful land and prime agricultural land,” County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush told Stirling, “but your contribution is over the top, in my opinion.” Some have criticized the program for spending taxpayer money on remote lands that will remain under private ownership. Roundtree rejected those criticisms and also noted that this project and others are highly visible from public roads and public lands. Visibility is one criteria the PDR board uses to evaluate a project, but not the only one, Roundtree said.