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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Bramwell Ranch conservation easement established

By Maggie Hanna  | Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust

For almost two decades, the Bramwell family has worked with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) to achieve agriculturally focused conservation in southwest Colorado. 

In partnership with the Bramwell family, CCALT is excited to announce the conservation of 429.77 acres of ranchland with 0.75 miles of Navajo River frontage located less than one-quarter mile outside of Chromo. Conservation of the ranch was supported by transaction cost assistance from The Nature Conservancy and Keep it Colorado.

The Bramwell Valley Ranch has been and will continue to be managed as a cattle ranch, thanks to its recent purchase by the Bramwells. The ranch is integrated in the family’s larger fourth-generation agricultural operation providing supplemental hay production and grazing grounds for their headquarters located less than 1 mile to the west and conserved by CCALT in 2010 and 2012. The family’s dedication to agriculture contributed to their decision to include a novel term limiting the value the ranch can be sold at in the future to its production value in the conservation easement. The goal of the future agricultural value limitation term is to allow an individual to purchase agricultural land using the proceeds derived from the land. 

CCALT and the Bramwells believe that conservation of agricultural communities and infrastructures and agricultural production is inextricably linked to the conservation of and use of agricultural lands for agricultural production. Linking the value of the land to its production capacity will ideally ensure the availability of farm and ranchland in Colorado for agricultural producers and allow individuals starting in agriculture or currently engaged in production agriculture to acquire land at a price that is tied to the land’s production value. Dick and Darla Bramwell hope that, should members of future generations decide to stop ranching, that family members who want to keep ranching will be able to afford to buy out those no longer interested.

“Our family thanks CCALT for their help and dedication to keeping ag lands in the hands of those who love and work the land. Our open spaces are being developed at an alarming rate. Conservation can be a tool to keep the lands working and the landscapes free of development. We encourage anyone thinking of protecting and sustaining their land into the next generations to contact CCALT for resources available to them. All easements are done individually and uniquely to the wants and needs of the landowner and the property,” Darla Bramwell shared.

While the Bramwells have done their best to ensure a productive future for the ranch, its fate was not always certain. The Bramwell family purchased 55 acres in 2017 and the remaining acreage, which they had previously leased for grazing, from a longtime landowner who had platted the land and was selling subdivided lots capitalizing on the beautiful views and Navajo River frontage. Several lots were sold before the Bramwells were able to complete the purchase of the remaining lots.

The ranch’s conservation values are undeniable as it borders three conserved ranches, two conserved by CCALT to the northwest and another conserved by Southwest Land Alliance to the south. The remainder of private ground bordering the property is in some form of leased agricultural production despite being subdivided down to 35-acre lots (or smaller). The property shares an approximately 1-mile boundary with land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in addition to 1 mile of boundary with the San Juan National Forest. Within 10 miles of the property, there are 63,507 acres managed by the U.S. Forest Service, 5,163 acres administered by the BLM and 310.37 acres of land owned and managed by the State Land Board. In addition to these public lands, there are 24,960 acres encumbered by conservation easements. Of these acres, 12,895 are held by CCALT, 4,762 are held by Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, 4,257 are held by Colorado Open Lands, 1,826 are held by the Colorado State Forest Service and 1,220 are held by the Southwest Land Alliance.

“While the conservation values of the Bramwell Valley Ranch speak for themselves, the Bramwell family’s dedication to conservation and agriculture make this project truly special. Darla and Richard have approached the conservation easement very intentionally and given a great deal of thought to the future viability of the ranch. Their sons and daughters-in-law have been integrally involved in the conservation easement process and in the management of the ranch. In addition to being a joy to work with, Darla’s questions and insights have helped CCALT realize the full potential of the agricultural value limitation. CCALT is incredibly grateful to partner with the Bramwell family on the conservation of the Bramwell Valley Ranch,” said Molly Fales, CCALT’s staff attorney.

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