Field Notes: A Quarterly Newsletter from the Colorado State Land Board

Summer 2021


Trust land is leased to earn income for Colorado public schools. We're proud to be the primary funding source for the Department of Education's Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program, which provides capital construction grants to schools.

In May, BEST announced its list of 2021-22 construction projects to receive grants: 41 school districts across Colorado are recommended to receive $297 million in grants to build new schools or make renovations. View the full list of 20211-22 recommended projects.

“Our new school is a source of pride for our community," said Kendra Anderson, who was Superintendent at Otis School District R-3 when the community received a $17 million grant to build a new pre K-12 school in 2017. "Students come to a safe and healthy environment each day and have access to technologies that they didn’t have in the old facilities. The district has doubled in students living in poverty in just a few years. For some students, this is the nicest environment that they exist in."

Watch our 90-second video to learn more how trust land is leased to earn money for schools:
Nick Trainor Mentors Youth  

Seven young adults from Mile High Youth Corps volunteered to repair fencing at Lowry Ranch, a 26,000-acre property located east of Denver in Arapahoe County. Working in nearly 100-degree heat in mid-June, the volunteers received guidance from Nick Trainor, owner/operator of Trainor Cattle Company, who leases the property for grazing. The volunteers removed old, unnecessary fencing to improve wildlife movements in the riparian corridor.

Rotational grazing is a method in which ranchers manage their herds such that the cattle sequentially graze only one area of land at time while the remainder of the property's land rests. Ranchers do so by strategically sectioning the land with fences. Most ranchers see reduced costs and increased profit from rotational grazing systems. Plus, the land is left in better condition.

“Grazing leases are a huge part of land stewardship for us. Grazing improves the land over time if you do it right," said William Woolston, Field Operations Supervisor for the State Land Board. "Nick is getting it done right at Lowry. It's fantastic that he is sharing his knowledge in rangeland management with young people."

[Photos courtesy of Raquel Wertsbaugh.]

Like many destinations in the West, Colorado is forecasting a warm, dry summer. Be careful with campfires and check local restrictions before enjoying a campfire, fireworks, or other activities that use an open flame.

Nearly one million acres of trust land is accessible to sportsmen and anglers for limited, seasonal hunting and fishing through the Public Access Program, which is managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). But natural events can affect sportsmen's ability to access hunting grounds. Fires, mudslides, tree mitigation, and other events can occur anytime, closing campgrounds, roads, and trails.

Before you head out, be sure to check with land management agencies for the latest information. If you have questions about licenses, or general questions about fire restrictions or hunting, contact your local CPW office.

Watch a quick video about campfire guidelines:


Two habitat restoration projects on trust land properties are being funded, in part, from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Restoration and Stewardship of Outdoor Resources (RESTOREColorado grant program. Central Colorado Conservancy's project titled “Restoring Riparian and Wetland Habitat to Benefit Trout Spawning in Badger Creek” received a $390,000 grant. Montezuma Land Conservancy’s “Restoring Sagebrush Shrubland for Sage-Grouse and Big Game Habitat” project received a $278,000 grant.

Both groups will work collaboratively with the State Land Board, private landowners, and other government agencies to achieve habitat improvement goals on state trust land as well as adjacent lands.

At Badger Creek Headwaters watershed, Central Colorado Conservancy and the Badger Creek Partnership will improve 8,909 acres of rangeland habitat. They'll restore 6.7 miles of stream geomorphology and 85 acres of wetlands, reconnect 142 acres of floodplain and native riparian vegetation, and build 1.6 miles of livestock fencing. The completed demonstration project pictured right shows a successfully restored riparian habitat 
led by Badger Creek Partnership.

Montezuma Land Conservancy will enhance Gunnison sage grouse and working lands resilience in sagebrush shrublands. Their mesic restoration project in San Miguel County includes installing 100 Zeedyk structures (pictured below). Zeedyks are hand-built rock formations that restore the hydrologic and ecological function of wet meadows.

"This important work will restore riparian and wetland areas, improve grazing capacity, and enhance habitat on trust land," said Lindsey Brandt, Stewardship Trust Manager for the State Land Board. "We're thrilled that these partners are leveraging grant money from RESTORE to improve the habitat on trust land."

RESTORE funds at-scale habitat restoration, expansion, and improvement projects across priority landscapes in Colorado. RESTORE awarded more than $3 million to ten recipients this year. 
Read more about RESTORE and the ten funded projects.

Twenty-four parcels of state trust land totaling more than 30,000 acres are designated into the Colorado Natural Areas Program (CNAP)

CNAP is a statewide program managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The CNAP team focuses on the recognition and protection of areas that contain at least one unique or high-quality natural feature of statewide significance. CNAP works cooperatively with landowners to identify, monitor, and protect a system of natural areas representing a diverse spectrum of Colorado's natural heritage.

Check out CNAP's interactive map that describes the attributes of each property:


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Medusahead and myrtle spurge

The State Land Board partners with lessees to manage noxious weeds on trust lands. We follow the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s noxious weed list that puts weeds into management categories. Contact your district manager if you have questions about, or need support in, managing noxious weeds. We may be able to offer weed mitigation cost-sharing.

Help us eradicate these two noxious weeds:

Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) is a winter annual grass native to Europe and Asia. Medusahead infestations displace native vegetation and can greatly reduce carrying capacity of rangelands for domestic livestock. The barbs or awns on the seed head can cause puncture wounds to grazing animals, as well as cling to the feet and fur of animals or hikers’ socks. The yellowish-green sheen of dense stands is highly visible after other annual grasses turn brown.

Identifying attributes:
  • Stems are wiry and slender with a few short leaves
  • Awns are long and twisted
  • Mature grass grows 6" to 24" tall 
Myrtle spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites) is a low-growing perennial with trailing fleshy stems. Myrtle spurge spreads by seed, and plants are capable of projecting seeds up to 15 feet. The plant grows from a taproot, with new stems emerging in early spring and dying back in the winter. Myrtle spurge contains a toxic, milky sap which can cause severe skin irritations, including blistering. This plant is poisonous if ingested and causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

 Identifying attributes:
  • Leaves are fleshy, blue-green and alternate
  • Flowers are inconspicuous with yellow-green, petal-like bracts that appear from March to May 
  • Plants can grow up to 8" to 12" high and 12" to 18" in width
[Source and photo credits: Colorado Department of Agriculture]

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