Owned By the National Audubon Society

Managed by:

Audubon Rockies & High Country Land Management

“Partnering Agriculture with Conservation of our Wild Lands and Ecosystems.”

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.

Our management 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:

Agriculture gives 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:

Years of 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.

Back Story:

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.

These 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 churning 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


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