Lester Ranch

San Luis Valley

Rio Grand River Corridor landowners and Ducks Unlimited (DU) worked together in December 2005 to protect an additional 825 acres of wet meadow pasture that is a magnet for migrating waterfowl. Helen and Whaylan Lester have placed a second conservation easement on their ranch. This parcel shares its entire southern property boundary with the Rio Grande State Wildlife Area.

The Rio Grande River is an area DU has targeted for large scale wetland protection. The wetlands on the Lester Ranch are part of the Rio Grande River wetland complex and are used intensively by large numbers of migrating and breeding ducks, geese and other waterbirds. The area also receives heavy use by migrating Greater Sandhill Cranes.

The wetlands are maintained by ditch irrigation water, direct precipitation, overbank flood events from the Rio Grande, and high groundwater levels. Management of wet meadow pastures for hay and livestock forage perpetuates the high wetland wildlife values on the property. Stands of mature cottonwoods and willows are present.

DU was able to use North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) dollars for the bargain sale price of this easement. This is DU's second conservation easement with the Lesters, who earlier conserved a 784-acre parcel also along the Rio Grande River Corridor.