By the National Audubon Society
Rockies & High Country Land Management
“Partnering Agriculture with Conservation of our Wild Lands and
Ranching is for the birds:
It’s easy to look
out across the sun drenched prairies and not see the birds among the waves of
amber and green, however their songs are the voice of the plains.
Much like the canaries
that men brought into the mines to protect them from poisonous gas, the prairie
birds are a critical indicator of the health and well-being of our soils and
Great Plains ecosystem.
Working lands make
up the majority of the plains and are vital
to America’s economic and
environmental health. They provide our food, shelter, and even homegrown
energy. As our population grows, so does the number of acres under cultivation
for grains. The practices used in farming and ranching greatly influence feeding
and nesting habitat for grassland birds.
practices in farming and ranching may determine the future for the following
focal species: Mountain
Plover, Burrowing Owl, Loggerhead Shrike, Upland
Sandpiper, Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown’s Longspur, Grasshopper Sparrow,
Lark Bunting, Long-billed Curlew, Baird’s Sparrow, and Cassin’s Sparrow, along
with many others.
Ranching for soils and ecosystems:
us an opportunity to take an active role in the proliferation of soils and
ecosystems while driving income to keep large properties intact and thriving
ecosystems for birds, bugs and wildlife. Few people know a farmer and rancher,
and most are unaware of how many of them care deeply for their land and
livestock and its well-being for generations. Often, there is no one better
qualified to care for the land than the one whose livelihood and family depend
on it. Partnering with landowners is the key to making working lands work for
birds, people, and communities. Agricultural practices that use active
management of moving livestock to new pastures, as well as cultivate and harvest
using techniques which naturally build soil microbes and limit habitat disturbance
at critical times can be the difference that takes the world a step closer to
global sustainability every day.
How Audubon Can Help:
scientific research have helped Audubon field staff be able to share the ways
farming can be compatible with birds. On
Grasslands and Ranchlands of the interior United States, prairie and sagebrush
habitats are threatened by energy development and other uses that are un-aware
of the needs of the birds. Audubon works with all stakeholders to foster good
policy and practices for managing these vital habitats.
Kiowa Creek Ranch and Sanctuary
Black Forest, North of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Kiowa Creek
Ranch was donated to Audubon to preserve 1500 acres in Black Forest from the
rapidly approaching residential growth. This picturesque property is a bit of a
wildlife conservation hide-out located in the ever expanding suburban growth of
southern Colorado’s front-range. It’s becoming rarer and rarer to find a sizeable
acreage of native grassland meadows and Ponderosa Pine forest. Most of us want
to live in a pretty place such as Black Forest, however more homes means more
people and less room for birds, bugs, and other four legged animals that need a
home as well.
High Country Land Management:
How can we keep
properties like the Kiowa Creek Ranch intact with healthy ecosystems for the
long run? One method is to embrace ways that properties like this one can drive
revenue, encourage/manage visitors while also mutually benefiting native plant
and animal cycles to thrive and grow. This is the mission of the livestock
grazing lease that is in place on the ranch with High Country Land Management
“HCLM”. Thriving ecosystems start with encouraging a healthy soil cycle. HCLM
uses an intensive management strategy that uses high intensity, short duration
domestic animal grazing methods to build soil.
specialized grazing practices resemble much of what large herds
of bison and
fire used to do to build our soils since time began. HCLM uses the
hooves of cattle, the tilling noses of pigs, and the fertilization from
chickens, to bring an inherently natural cycle of disturbance and growth to the
landscape. The healthy and delicious meat and eggs produced from this style of
livestock grazing is then marketed through HCLM’s sister company, Corner Post
Meats, to feed families throughout Colorado.
Corner Post Meats & Managed public Access:
In addition to
raising the animals and marketing and distributing the meat, the ranch and
sanctuary now has regular scheduled guided and self-guided tours and farm-to-
table dinners. This allows everyone to see and experience what domestic
animals can do to help make properties like this one be a better place to land,
build a nest, and hang out a while. If you’re flying through Colorado anytime
soon, stop and have a look for yourself at all the fascinating things we are
doing at Kiowa Creek Ranch.
Audubon Certified: Grazed on Bird Friendly Lands
Donate to Audubon
Buy Meat From the Ranch