The 984-acre Aspen Leaf Ranch is located 16 miles northeast of Paonia near the North Fork of the Gunnison River. This ranch was once part of a larger family-owned agricultural operation that was split among various family members. All members have worked with COL to conserve their own pieces of the original ranch, and conservation of Aspen Leaf Ranch marks the final piece of the puzzle – the entire family’s ranchlands are now permanently protected!

The ranch features irrigated pastures, native grassland and shrublands of sagebrush and Gambel oak, and mixed conifer and aspen stands. Habitat is provided for American peregrine falcon, bald eagle, ferruginous hawk, Greater sandhill crane, and northern leopard frog (all Colorado Species of Concern), and burrowing owl (designated Threatened in Colorado). It also is home or on a migration path for black bear, elk, moose, mountain lion, and mule deer.

Aspen Leaf Ranch is surrounded on two sides by US Forest Service lands and two existing conservation easements. With stunning views of the Raggeds and West Elk Wilderness Areas, and situated between Kebler Pass and McClure Pass, the property would have been a prime candidate for development. By partnering with Colorado Open Lands, the family has kept those views – as well as the wildlife habitat and ag operation within – protected forever.

Project partners include Natural Resources Conservation Service, Gunnison Valley Land Preservation Fund, and Gunnison Ranchland Conservation Legacy. Photo courtesy of landowner Paul Moore.