SPLT's mission is to create and protect a network of shortgrass prairie preserves, which ensure a future for all native animals and plants.
We established the Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT) in 1998 to create safe refuges for prairie wildlife. SPLT celebrated the purchase of the first component of its reserve network in November 1998: a 1,280-acre parcel in Baca County, Colorado, located three miles north of the Comanche National Grassland. We named this property Fresh Tracks Nature Preserve to acknowledge the welcomed sight of native animal tracks on the land and to signify a new path toward land management on the Southern Plains, one where wildlife is respected for its intrinsic value. Left largely to itself, Fresh Tracks has rebounded, and boasts remarkable plant and animal abundance and diversity.
In December 2000, another 1,300 acres was added to the reserve network. Just three miles south of Fresh Tracks, the Marianne Rees and Two Marys Nature Preserves were named in memory of the partners' mothers. SPLT acquired strict conservation easements on these properties in 2005-2006.
In 2003, SPLT obtained another set of strictly protective conservation easement on approximately 90 acres in Prowers County, CO, called the Quail Ridge Nature Preserve. These easements protect against development, which has been active in the municipality of Lamar, as well as livestock grazing, crop agriculture, and hunting.
In 2013, SPLT acquired a 2,240-acre preserve in southeastern Colorado, which we named Raven's Nest Nature Preserve. Also in 2013, SPLT acquired a 10-year lease on 640-acres of Colorado State Land Board land, for the purpose of prairie wildlife conservation.
In 2015, we doubled the size of Raven's Nest Nature Preserve to 4,800 acres (that's 7.5 square miles!). In 2015, we also acquired the Heartland Ranch, which is approximately 11,000 acres in size. SPLT restored bison to Heartland Ranch, which now has a herd of over 80 animals.
In February 2018, we added another 7,000 acres to Heartland Ranch, and in July 2018, we acquired a 320-acre inholding. Heartland Ranch is now nearly 30 square miles: larger than any one of Colorado's state parks and bigger than the city of Boulder, Colorado.
In addition, we are actively engaged in outreach efforts, in the classroom and the field, to show how thrilling and diverse the shortgrass prairie can be.
"By successfully restoring the iconic wildlife and landscapes of the American Great Plains to southeast Colorado, SPLT has become the Southern Plains anchor for the American Serengeti. We are very proud to be an active partner in this visionary effort."
--Jonathan Proctor, Rockies and Plains Program Director, Defenders of Wildlife
"The Southern Plains Land Trust is one of the most efficient and effective non-profits in our region. For decades, this small group of talented individuals has proven that with strategy and hard work, thousands of acres of grassland habitat and countless animals can be protected for today and our future generations. Get involved today. It's awesome how much this group accomplishes."
--Lindsey Sterling Krank, Director of the Prairie Dog Coalition of the Humane Society of the United States