From The Fort Morgan Times (Kara Morgan):
Morgan County resident John Yocam and Colorado Open Lands ended 2018 with a deal.
Yocam decided about a year ago that he wanted to conserve his family’s ranchland to make sure it stayed the thriving ranch land and habitat site that they had worked for many years to maintain. He approached Colorado Open Lands, a nonprofit land trust, to figure out how best to ensure the land would continue on as it has…
Yocam said in the past his land has been a site of interest by outside parties, and he wanted to ensure that it stayed the ranchland it has been. As both Yocam and Farmer explain, the land is both ranchland and an important habitat site for local and migrating wildlife…
Yocam explained some of the history of his land and why a conservation easement made sense for him.
“It’s been a long time coming actually. It started back in the ’70s when they were going to put in Centennial Wildlife Refuge here,” he said.
Yocam said the land has been in his family for about 70 years or so, since the mid-1950s, and he himself has lived there since 1976.
“Pressure has just got to so much here from different water projects, recharge projects. I’ve been in court about three times and so I just got tired of fighting off everybody,” he explained. “So I donated it into a land trust.”
‘Rare and Unusual’
Describing the recently conserved land, Yocam said with some pride, “It was deemed rare and unusual and must be protected, was the rating they gave it.”
Farmer explained how this land is valuable in many ways, more than ranchland.
“In addition to being highly productive, the ranch also provides excellent waterfowl habitat with its wetland and upland features,” she said.
The land is located outside of the town of Orchard, Farmer said, and it plays an important role for the wildlife living in the area, especially birds.
“Occurring within the ‘Golden Triangle,’ an area in Morgan and Weld counties defined by Empire Reservoir, Jackson Reservoir and Riverside Reservoir, the ranch and surrounding agricultural lands provide populations of ducks and geese with important upland/agricultural foraging grounds during their migration and over-wintering in the South Platte Basin,” Farmer explained.
For bird migration in the area, this location is critical, she said.
“This region is one of the most important wetland complexes in the South Platte Basin along the Central Flyway Migration Corridor,” Farmer said.
Yocam painted a picture of the land diversity across his property: “It’s river bottom, into a riparian habitat. I’ve got a large sub-irrigated meadow. It’s got a big chunk of wetlands on it and then it goes into the uplands.”