The three-county service area of Legacy Land Trust includes Larimer, Jackson, and Weld Counties. Each of these counties has unique ecological, physiological, and cultural characteristics that are not only valuable for conservation on their own, but form a comprehensive region together that goes beyond species-specific conservation goals.
On the western edge of our service area contains North Park – bounded by the Medicine Bow Mountains, the Never Summer and Park Ranges. With the North Platte River flowing through, it provides some of the most pristine and intact mountain parkland in Colorado. As a natural “park” (wide valley surrounded by mountains) the North Park area is a refuge for wildlife, including bear, elk, deer, pronghorn, coyote, badger, sage grouse, and other indigenous species.
This area is characterized by a transition zone from the alpine ecosystems to the shortgrass prairie with the foothills in between. Containing the headwaters of the Cache la Poudre and Big Thompson Rivers, Larimer County supports a host of rare species, native plants and diversity of topography. Wildlife ranges from large mammals of elk, deer, and bear to coyotes, fox, bighorn sheep, bobcats, and other smaller mammals. A wide variety of bird species are also of note, some frequenting zones above 6,000 feet, with many other species preferring the plains habitat.
On the east is characterized by vast expanses of shortgrass prairie, and an impressive topographical feature in the northwestern part of the County called the “Chalk Bluffs,” with seasonal streams running south toward the South Platte River Basin. Also a significant resource are the Pawnee Grasslands that are host to species such as Swift Fox, mountain lion, bobcat, mule deer, pronghorn, Black-tailed Prairie Dog, bird species including Sharp-tailed Grouse, Mountain Plover, Burrowing Owl, McCown’s Longspur, raptors including Bald and Golden eagles, Ferruginous and Swainson’s Hawks, and Peregrine Falcon. Reptiles and amphibians are also present, along with native plants and other animals. The Crow Valley in Weld County features a very important migratory songbird route of international significance.
Farm & Ranch
All three counties support active farming and ranching. The hay ranches of North Park provide winter forage for livestock in the lower elevation counties, and also provide summer range for Weld and Larimer County cattle. Weld County is characterized by active ranching and irrigated farming on a large economic scale. Conserving agricultural lands in all three counties protects rural communities, their culture, and their economies.
Legacy Land Trust has identified priority types of landscapes with high conservation values that include:
• Large agricultural landscapes (irrigated and non-irrigated, crop lands and rangelands) with as much contiguity as possible,
• Working farms closer to urban areas that can provide local products and enhance our perception of our open landscapes,
• Lands that contain scenic views, or native biodiversity that are not associated with agricultural production, and
• Smaller parcels that support scenic views or natural amenity benefits close to urban areas including community separators.
Priority areas for our work include:
In Larimer County:
Laramie River Valley
Big and Little Thompson rivers habitat
Wellington and Waverly Agricultural area
In Weld County:
Poudre River area
In Jackson County: