Cattle Grazing Season
by Michael Hughes

Cattle grazing season will soon be returning to the Santa Fe Trail Ranch.  This ranch has a $6,500/year grazing lease with Alan Walter of Model Co.  The grazing lease provides benefits to Mr. Walter and also to the S.F.T.R.  Mr. Walter is allowed to bring a limited number of cattle to graze on the ranch for a specified period of time every year, which vastly reduces his cattle feeding costs.  The cattle benefit the ranch by eating the grass and fertilizing the soil.  But most importantly, because the S.F.T.R.  has a grazing lease, the entire ranch is considered agricultural grazing land, which greatly reduces the tax rate on the individual lots.

Most property owners are familiar with the side effects of living on a working ranch: the herds of cows in the roads, the jolting cattle guards, the fences that need to be maintained, the ubiquituous manure piles, the indiscriminate destruction of carefully-tended gardens, and other such troubles.  But, if we are to enjoy the benefits of a ranch environment, we will have to learn to live with the problems!  Colorado is what is called a "fence out" state.  That means if you don't want cattle on your land, you must fence them out!

Mr. Walter has had his cattle on this ranch for several years now.  Many of us have had the opportunity to meet him and his wife and son at the annual picnic.  They enjoy their relationship with us, and every year they take it upon themselves to help make the ranch more workable.  Last year the windmill in Cottonwood Canyon became functional, and Alan would like to tune up the several other windmills on the ranch this year.  These wells provide a source of water for the cattle.  Because they are up in the canyons, this tends to keep the cattle in the canyons and off the roads.

The POA historically has earmarked the entirety of the grazing lease funds for the repair of the twenty-five mile ranch perimeter fencing.  Without this fencing, Alan must pursue his cattle onto other adjoining ranches.  The last fence line in need of repair is the five-mile stretch from the northwest corner of the ranch to the intersection of Tall Oaks Drive and Owen Baldwin Parkway.  Naturally, we saved the hardest task for last!  Our neighbor to the west is quite anxious to assist in this project by splitting the cost of this fencing with the POA.  With this year's budget, we should be able to repair about half of this fence line.  We expect to start at the northwest corner since Alan believes that is where most of the cattle are escaping.

Alan has also pointed out that the canyon jeep trails, if kept in passable condition, would be a benefit to his ranching activities and would be a valuable fire protection asset.  Unfortunately, these jeep trails do not meticulously follow the "fifteen foot wide non-exclusive common use easement running along the inside of all lot lines."  Despite the "trespassing" that is entailed by use of these canyon jeep trails, their existence is important to the well-being of this ranch.  Cattle would be more likely to reside in the canyons, and fire-fighting capability on the ranch would be greatly enhanced.  These canyons also house the largest noxious weed populations.  A way to access the canyons, and maintenance of the canyon jeep trails, would improve imensely the quality of the S.F.T.R.