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Brent Thurgood spent his life learning about and from wildlife. As a young man, he hunted. He became a guide and outfitter and spent each fall talking with and teaching hunters about wildlife. In the last 10 years of his short life, Brent became extremely interested in developing a wildlife habitat in Colorado Game Unit 40. He knew each inch of the "mountain." He developed water, feed and environments that increase the sustainability of the wildlife. Brent knew better than most that the most critical habitat for deer and elk is the winter habitat and it was to this goal that he dedicated his time. These projects began on LCR. LCR is an unusual conservation easement that is located on a geological bench, perfect winter habitat. The bench, referred to as Clark's Bench, looms 3000 feet above the valley floor, thereby creating a natural barrier from encroaching human habitat.

LCR is bordered by approximately 35,000 acres of public land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Although the wildlife does not know the difference, the existence of the public land provides for endless possibilities for collaboration between public and private interests.

We know that all of you have had the experience of driving in the country, maybe in the mountains in the summer, and you see deer or elk from the road. They are eating lush, green grass and the scene takes your breath away. Now we want you to imagine that same animal in the dead of winter. Ever wonder where they go and what they eat when it is cold and snow is deep? What do they eat?

Well, it is called "winter habitat." Winter habitat is not on top of the mountain, up high where you saw that animal in the summer. It is the lower elevations, the dryer - lower ground. Winter habitat in Colorado is becoming scarcer every day. The main reason is us - people and houses.

Ladder Canyon Ranch is an agricultural easement at a place in western Colorado labeled on the map as Clark's Bench. It is considered critical winter habitat for deer and elk. We are surrounded by a huge expanse of public land managed by the BLM. In the past it has been used as cattle grazing land and has not fared that well. Now we manage it with the goal of wildlife preservation. Cattle grazing is used only as a tool to enhance the habitat, not as our primary purpose.

The Brent Thurgood Foundation, still in the developmental stages, will help with this, and several other projects. It includes both a school education piece (called "The Travelling Antler"), and the on-the-ground habitat enhancement projects.



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