Cummings Ranch Conservation Easement Baseline Report

  • Client: Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Las Animas County
  • Date: Oct 2015
  • Info: Blue Mountain Environmental Consulting prepared the original conservation easement baseline report for the 6,575-acre property in 2011 and returned in 2015 to inventory a newly added parcel and to determine if there had been any changes to the original acreage.

The Cummings Ranch is a 6,578.88-acre property owned and operated by the Cummings Family since 1911 and currently used for agricultural purposes including cattle grazing and hay and timber production. Located on the eastern plains of Colorado, this project conserves broad expanses of the Western Great Plains ecoregion and associated wildlife habitats. The most prominent ecological communities are Rocky Mountain Gambel oak-mixed montane shrubland, ponderosa pine woodland and Southern Rocky Mountain pinyon juniper woodlands. There are also numerous arroyos, small wetlands and rock outcrops contained within the more than 3,100 feet of vertical relief.

The Property represents a truly unique piece of land adjacent to Trinidad, Colorado. In a region where many large ranches have been sub-divided and natural habitats have been permanently altered or eliminated, preservation of this property is critical. Although improvements have been made, most of the property remains in its natural state. There are few noxious weeds on the ranch and the vast majority of the land has never been tilled. Cummings Ranch adjoins the James M. John State Wildlife Refuge thereby contributing to the ecological viability of the area.

The property also contains the historical Gray Creek Coal Mine that was operated by the Victor-American Fuel Company between 1888 and 1921. The historical site of the Town of Grey Creek is located on the property. The Town was established in 1895 as a coal mining camp.  At its peak in 1909, the town and mine supported 600 residents. There was a post office, a hotel, a stage line, and offices for the Victor-American Fuel Company, a General Merchandise Store, a saloon, a school, and a physician.  On August 31, 1921, the Town of Gray Creek was officially discontinued.  All that remains today are a railroad bed and some coke ovens.