When Sam Capps of Walsenburg was asked why he wanted to protect his productive and beautiful 28,000-acre ranch at the foot of southern Colorado's Spanish Peaks, he would get a very stern look on his face. "Because I want to know that this place will always look the way that God made it" was his answer.
Before his death in 2001, Sam finalized a conservation easement on the ranch, which includes vast expanses of short-grass prairie, rare playa wetlands, old growth ponderosa pine forests and a thriving cattle herd. The easement placed on the Capps Ranch started a movement toward easements in the area, and many neighbors joined in.
After Sam placed his ranch in an easement, neighbor Bob Barber stated, "We all knew that there was now a chance for this valley to stay just as it is, and it was now our turn to step up." Since 2001, ranch families have protected an additional 35,000 acres in the immediate area. Landowners have done this through the Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust, making this area one of the largest protected landscapes in all of Colorado.