February 18, 2014


Jeff managed the Zapata Ranch cattle operations until 2014.

On the southwestern edge of the Medano we border an area called San Luis Lakes State Park.  It’s a beautiful spot which includes 1000 acres of wetlands and a couple good sized lakes.  Every few years we team up with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to implement planned grazing to help wildlife habitat, specifically wetland birds.  One of the main goals is to remove old, unpalatable and therefore undesirable vegetation.  The old vegetation forms a thick “mat” that makes it impossible for anything new to grow up through.  Cattle are able to break up that mat with their mouths and hooves.  The manure from the cattle provides not only fertilizer but promotes insect populations that help break up the manure and also become an important food source for wetland birds.  The cattle are removed around the time of spring green-up and the new plants are able to thrive.  The abundance of new plants promotes life in all forms from insects all the way up to elk.  The program benefits both our ranching operation and CPW in that it costs neither of us anything.  We benefit from free, extra pasture for which we are happy to provide the management and they don’t have to use alternative methods that require expensive machinery that doesn’t do as good a job anyway.  I thoroughly enjoy being part of this project because it makes so much sense for all involved and together we achieve the common goal of protecting the land we manage.

Photography by Jeff Gossage
// Video by Ben Rosati

1 reply to “The San Luis Lakes

  1. Kay at Alchemical Horse

    This is great! I sure wish there were a way to manage more land like this.

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