BLM acquires ranch in Gunnison Gorge

The Great Outdoors

The Bureau of Land Management has acquired a 552-acre inholding within the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area in a $1.4 million deal that officials said is important to preserving the character of the area.

“The inholding could have been developed as a rural subdivision, which would have changed the character of this area and the adjacent Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park,” said Karen Tucker,  conservation area manager.

Putting the land into public hands will enhance recreational opportunities and preserve the view and critical wildlife habitat, Tucker said.

The land was owned by the August Nicolas Family Partnership, which used it as its upper ranch, the bureau said.

The acquisition was completed with the cooperation of The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit organization.

Acquiring the inholding was a high priority of the Bureau of Land Management, as well as Delta and Montrose counties, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Black Canyon Land Trust and National Park Service.

This property allows for a continuous access route through the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, Christine Quinlan of The Conservation Fund’s Colorado office.

The parcels are northeast of Montrose and are bordered by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to the east, the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness to the north and otherwise is surrounded by the conservation area.

“I credit the Nicolas family for working cooperatively with us to add their upper ranch to the NCA,” Quinlan said.

“This will benefit wildlife and recreational users.”

The parcels were acquired using funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The fund was established in 1964 to provide money for federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of the public.

The 62,000-acre Gunnison Gorge conservation area includes 22 miles of the Gunnison River and 17,700 acres of wilderness area.

It offers a diverse range of recreational uses such as:

whitewater and flat water boating

trout fishing

hunting for big game, waterfowl and upland birds


mountain biking



horseback riding

off-highway vehicle use in designated areas

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