To protect and enhance agricultural land, wildlife habitat and scenic lands in western Colorado to benefit the community at large, enrich lives, provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, and ensure our connection to land for generations to come.
Mesa Land Trust, one of the nation's first agricultural land trusts was founded in 1980 by a small group of Palisade farmers with the desire to preserve the farmlands in the east end of the Grand Valley from inevitable development during the area's oil shale boom. Three of these founders donated the organization's first conservation easements in 1982.
In 2009 the Land Trust became one of the first 43 land trusts nationwide to earn the Accreditation seal from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and in 2014 that accreditation was renewed. Today more than 64,000 acres have been conserved in and around Mesa County.
"I've seen so much land turn into development. Old ranches go to subdivision and we lose the ability to produce food on that land," said Ken Sodowsky. "We strongly believe in conservation."
In 1991 Ken and Susan Sodowsky moved from their Ouray County ranch and purchased the 300 acre farm in Delta County. They then raised their children here and continue to farm the property. Situated south of the Grand Mesa at about 5,700 feet, the couple grows grapes, which are purchased by local wineries and leases a portion of the land to a local rancher for hay and cattle grazing. The remaining property contains sweeping fields and lush riparian habitat.
The Sodowsky property helps form a contiguous 4,200-acre block of privately conserved parcels and BLM land that provide a connection for wildlife, unobstructed views of the Grand Mesa and supports a base of local agricultural lands.
Bald eagles are regular winter visitors to the farm and during the spring migration, large kettles of sandhill cranes can be observed in the hayfields. As residential development takes place at lower elevations, open space like the Sodowsky's provides very important winter range for elk and mule deer migrating off of the Grand Mesa. These big game animals, and many other mammals and birds, travel along the wash that runs through the heart of the Sodowsky's property.