Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Duck Soup

Memphis based Ducks Unlimited has made its first property buy in Colorado.... 160 acres adjacent to the largest state owned wetland property there, Russell Lakes. The purchase is an infill.... a pocket of land surrounded by the existing preserve in the San Luis Valley, which had been in private hands. According to the wildlife columnist for the Rocky Mountain News the purchase is an exception to DU's more common way to preserve property there.... buying easements instead of property. And it may stay the exception......
In its first outright purchase of land in Colorado, the conservation organization .... has just signed the deed to 160 acres of wetland property adjacent to the state wildlife area.
Lying within the Russell Lakes complex, the land was part of a ranch owned by the Davey family for more than a century. (DU program manager Bob )Sanders said owners Alan and Eric Davey went to DU as their first-choice buyer, knowing the group would preserve the wetland.
"For them to have come to us was a real honor," he said.
He concedes 160 acres isn't much compared with some of DU's huge purchases, including those in South Dakota's pothole country. But this is a sweet addition, supporting some of the highest duck densities in the Russell Lakes complex.....
While it might seem obvious DU eventually would pass the land on to the Division of Wildlife to join the rest of the state area and provide additional public access, that might not happen.
Sanders said it's too early to tell what will become of the Davey parcel, but the current political climate might make it impossible for the DOW to acquire the land.
The state legislature this year passed a bill creating a $5 habitat stamp to raise money for wildlife habitat but restricted outright purchases. The new law exhorts the DOW to lease land for hunting and fishing. The message was that legislators probably will refuse future requests for state fee-title purchases.
DU's usual method of protecting habitat is with conservation easements, which pay owners to retire their development options but offer no guarantee of public access. Sanders said the group has protected 12,000 acres in the San Luis Valley by removing the temptation to sell and develop ranches and farms.

The legislature's emphasis on easements over purchases has been criticized.... but still seems the best way to make limited funds go further.


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