COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo - 6000 acres of land on Pikes Peak north face is now protected for conservation with completion of last major phase of Palmer Land Trust Scenic Conservation Corridor.
The Palmer Land Trust provided the information below:
Resting along the north slopes of Pikes Peak, the 1,000-acre Markus Ranch represented the last large, unprotected property in the Pikes Peak Conservation Corridor (PPCC), a 6,000-acre undeveloped block of public and private lands that frame the north slope of "America's Mountain" between Woodland Park and Divide. Twenty years ago, Palmer Land Trust launched efforts to protect this corridor from development.
As you travel west on Highway 24 past Woodland Park, the Pikes Peak Regional Hospital, and Edlowe Road, the Markus Ranch stands on the south side of the highway offering dramatic, sweeping bucolic views of Pikes Peak. More than 20,000 people enjoy this drive each day.
Scott Campbell, Executive Director Palmer Land Trust, reports that conservation efforts began on the Markus Ranch in 2009 and concluded in October of 2012 when the family placed the remaining unprotected portion of the ranch into conservation easement with Palmer Land Trust. Over those four years, Great Outdoors Colorado, the Gates Family Foundation, the Mary K. Chapman Foundation, the Carl George Bjorkman Foundation, the Markus Family, and numerous Palmer Land Trust supporters generously invested in the project.
The Markus Family has owned and operated the ranch since 1947. The ranch and its surroundings occupy a nationally significant landscape. Enos Mills, the "father of Rocky Mountain National Park," proposed establishing a national park around Pikes Peak more than a century ago. Colorado Congressman and Public Lands Committee member Charles Timberlake advanced the cause through the early 1900s, calling the Pikes Peak region "America's scenic playground." "Within a radius of a dozen miles of the summit of Pikes Peak," he said, "is a greater variety of wonderful scenery, more easily accessible than in any other equal area on the American continent." While the Park was never established, Palmer Land Trust's efforts have been central in protecting what remains of many of the incredible places Mills and Timberlake hoped to see preserved.
The PPCC is not an isolated block of protected lands; it is contiguous with other open lands preserved by Palmer Land Trust and its conservation partners. The Mueller Ranch (now known as Mueller State Park and Dome Rock State Wildlife Area) was purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 1979 and remains one of Colorado's signature conservation projects. Palmer Land Trust's Land protection efforts around Mueller State Park & Dome Rock have continued since that time, amidst intense subdivision pressure.
To date these lands comprise a 22-mile protected area, wrapping around the north and west slopes of Pikes Peak.