Featured Area: Glade Park
Although people have been living on Glade Park for more than 100 years, the wildlife population far outnumbers the human population, and residents hope it stays that way forever.
That hope isn’t merely something they say, either; many Glade Park landowners have put their money, or at least the potential to make money, where their sentiments lie and have put conservation easements on their land to insure wildlife habitation in perpetuity.
“We’ve been working on Glade Park for 25 years,” says Ilana Moir with Mesa Land Trust, the local land conservancy that was started 30 years ago to help preserve agricultural land from development and now works to protect wildlife habitat.
Since its inception, Mesa Land Trust has facilitated conservation easements on more than 58,600 acres. About 40,000 of those acres are on Glade Park.
“Glade Park has been huge due to several factors,” says Moir. The size of a typical parcel of land on Glade Park is much bigger than a typical parcel of land in Palisade, where Mesa Land Trust began.
Glade Park also has a rich history of families whose grandparents or great-grandparents homesteaded on the property and who want to put their entire holdings under a conservation easement.
A conservation easement does not transfer ownership or give the public access; it merely restricts the development rights on the property. Property under a conservation easement is usually valued for less than property with no easements, since a 360-acre unrestricted parcel of land has the potential to be subdivided into 10 35-acre home sites, while a 360-acre parcel of land under a conservation easement cannot be subdivided.
There are financial incentives from both the federal and the state government to facilitate easements, but the current budget crisis at the state level has caused the state to limit the tax credits that will be allowed in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Dennis Carns recently put his 350-acre ranch on Glade Park under a conservation easement, although he retained the right for a home site for future generations.
“It was handed down to me and I’d like to be able to hand it down,” says Carns, who attended the Coates Creek School on Glade Park years ago and received the last 8th grade diploma issued from the school; although the school remained open for a few more years before closing permanently.
Carns raises about 50 head of cattle, which aren’t threatened by nearby development, but by the growing population of elk on Glade Park, which outnumber and out-eat his cattle.
“In the last 20 years, the elk population has probably doubled,” says Ty Smith with the Division of Wildlife. “The population of deer isn’t what it was in the 1980s but the decrease isn’t big enough to worry about it.”
Smith estimates the elk population to be around 3,300, while the deer number between 5,600 and 5,800. He attributes the increase in elk to wildfires; the grass is the quickest plant to recover and the elk thrive on increased grassland.
Other wildlife on Glade Park include the desert bighorn sheep, which roam from the Colorado National Monument, and the Gunnison sage grouse, which exist in very small numbers. The Nature Conservancy became interested in Glade Park due to the presence of the grouse.
Although Glade Park has grown and changed in the last 20 years as a few larger holdings have subdivided into 35-acre home sites, it’s still a country community. The big summertime event is the volunteer fire department’s movie program, which draws people from the community and from the Grand Valley.
The Friday night movies are the fire department’s major fundraiser and help fund everything from training to operating expenses. The department responds to about 70 calls per year; most are for wildfires, but some are for medical emergencies. Everyone who volunteers for the fire department receives training to the first responder level and the department also has four volunteers who have completed the EMT class.
The first movie this year will be “The Wild Stallion” on June 4. Movies are free, but patrons are encouraged to buy food from the grill and the concession stand, since it is a fundraiser. In addition to the movies, which can’t start until the sun goes down, there is live entertainment prior to the movie showing. The grill opens at 6, but shuts down the minute the movie begins, so those who want a burger or a dog are encouraged to get there early. This year, moviegoers will be able to park in the new parking lot to the west of the fire department.
The Glade Park Community School is completing its first year of operations. Next year, the program will be expanded to include students from kindergarten through 3rd grade. There are already 18 kids enrolled for the 2010–11 school year.
Glade Park offers a great place to enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding or climbing for both guests and residents, with access to public lands in nearby McInnis Canyons and BLM land around the park. Those who want an escape from city life to an area that seems far more remote than the 20 minutes it takes to drive to the top of the monument can find it on Glade Park.