U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today joined members of the Hutchinson family on a tour of the Hutchinson Ranch, a working ranch that has been owned and operated by the family since 1866 and is now being preserved for ranching by a conservation easement.
"This ranch is a great example of how Colorado farming and ranching families can take advantage of conservation easement programs that will help our state's rich agricultural heritage thrive for generations," Bennet said. "I've heard from numerous producers around the state who want to preserve their family traditions and way of life. The Farm Bill that the Senate recently passed strengthens conservation programs and empowers landowners to voluntarily conserve the farming and ranching heritage of their land."
Conservation easements are voluntary agreements that allow landowners to limit development on their property while retaining ownership. The easements are designed to protect land in its undeveloped state and to preserve agricultural heritage and wildlife habitats for future generations. The Hutchinson Ranch easement was secured through the collaboration of the Arkansas Valley Land Trust, the Trust for Public Land, Colorado Cattlement's Ag and Land Trust, Chaffee County and the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.
Bennet secured a provision in the 2012 Farm Bill to enhance conservation easements and provide flexibility that will allow more land owners and producers to preserve their land's agricultural heritage and open space. He also amended the bill to further strengthen the conservation easement programs. Bennet's amendment clarifies the law within the newly consolidated Agricultural Lands Easement program to ensure that farmers and ranchers have more incentives and opportunities to enter into an easement agreement.