Protection of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado will get a big boost today when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announces an agreement with billionaire hedge fund manager and conservationist Louis Bacon. (press release here)
The Denver Post reported this morning that the announcement, to be made at 11 a.m. Mountain Time (1 pm ET), concerns Bacon’s offer of 90,000 acres’ worth of easements on his land in the mountain range.
This morning, Bacon’s name was added to the list of speakers at the Fort Garland Museum, where DOI had already said Salazar would “make a major conservation announcement for Colorado and the nation.” (Later today, ESWR will post an audio file of the subsequent teleconference, scheduled for 11:45 am MT, 1:45 pm ET.)
But let’s let Denver Post reporter Bruce Finley tell the story, since he had an interview with Salazar yesterday and appears to have broken the news. Click the link in the second paragraph above for the full text. Incidentally, as you might have guessed, a “fourteener” peak is one that rises more than 14,000 feet above sea level.
90,000 Colorado acres offered for national protected area
The proposed Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area is advancing today with an unprecedented offer to protect 90,000 acres that includes three fourteener peaks — aimed at encouraging other private landowners to participate.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he will announce an agreement with billionaire New York hedge- fund manager and conservationist Louis Bacon for an easement preventing future development.
This would be one of the largest easements the federal government has secured — and the largest parcel the Obama administration has protected in its campaign to preserve pristine landscapes for wildlife and recreation.
Bacon’s holdings span grasslands, forests and tundra between Great Sand Dunes National Park and La Veta Pass on the east side of the San Luis Valley — including Mount Lindsey and Blanca and Little Bear peaks. The parcel would fill a crucial gap in the emerging 5-million-acre corridor through Colorado and New Mexico.
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The Sangre de Cristo mountains are one of the nation’s last relatively uninterrupted migratory corridors for wildlife including deer, elk, cougars, black bears and bighorn sheep. Federal agencies own significant portions. But Bacon, media mogul Ted Turner in New Mexico and owners of the Taylor Ranch east of San Luis control much of the land extending south from Great Sand Dunes National Park along the mountains and the Rio Grande River toward toward Santa Fe.
- San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council
- Bacon battles to protect ranch from solar transmission lines (By Jason Blevins, 11/28/2010). (Note: Xcel Energy eventually abandoned its plans)
- Romney Super PAC Backed by Hedge Fund Billionaires (Bacon has given $500,000 to Restore Our Future)
- Images of the mountains from Colorado photographer Steve Garufi
- Mitt Romney on energy