The High Lonesome Ranch sits on the Western Slope of the Colorado Rockies. The nearly 300 square miles of deeded and permitted lands stretch far and away from civilization. The ranch is a mecca for wildlife with its mountain forests, grasslands, spring creeks and alpine mesas. At an altitude ranging from around 5,000 to 9,000 feet, this is an ecosystem consisting of a large, central valley with astonishingly beautiful mountains and adjoining valleys, each lush and fertile in its own right. The Ranch is located near the small cowboy town of DeBeque, Colorado.
EcoFlight flew the landscape of The High Lonesome Ranch to look for wintering Greater Sage Grouse in suitable sage grouse habitats. Along with a manager from the ranch, we brought along a few local students to give them an understanding of the ranch and to engage them in local conservation efforts.
Winter habitat can be a limiting factor for sage grouse, and understanding where birds are congregating and spending time will allow the ranch to proactively manage these habitats. As part of the landscape approach to responsible energy development the High Lonesome Ranch is developing a sage grouse conservation strategy that will include the use of existing conservation tools and cooperation with partners. The ranch has some of the most southwestern habitat that is currently occupied by greater sage grouse from the Parachute-Piceance-Roan population. This population is a high priority for conservation agencies and the HLR is working to ensure future mineral development does not unnecessarily impact the bird or its habitat.