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Southern Plains Land Trust

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Causes: Environment, Land Resources Conservation

Mission: The Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT) creates and protects a network of shortgrass prairie preserves, which ensure a future for all native animals and plants. We purchase land to create wildlife refuges managed first and foremost for biodiversity protection. Thus far, we have protected over 18,000 acres. SPLT celebrated the purchase of the first component of its reserve network in November 1998: a 1,280-acre parcel in Baca County, Colorado, located three miles north of the Comanche National Grassland. We named this property Fresh Tracks Nature Preserve to acknowledge the welcomed sight of native animal tracks on the land and to signify a new path toward land management on the Southern Plains, one where wildlife is respected for its intrinsic value. Left largely to itself, Fresh Tracks has rebounded, and boasts remarkable plant and animal abundance and diversity. In December 2000, another 1,300 acres was added to the reserve network. Just three miles south of Fresh Tracks, the Marianne Rees and Two Marys Nature Preserves were named in memory of the partners' mothers. SPLT acquired strict conservation easements on these properties in 2005-2006. In 2003, SPLT obtained another set of strictly protective conservation easement on approximately 90 acres in Prowers County, CO, called the Quail Ridge Nature Preserve. These easements protect against development, which has been active in the municipality of Lamar, as well as livestock grazing, crop agriculture, and hunting. In 2013, SPLT acquired a 2,240-acre preserve in southeastern Colorado, which we named Raven's Nest Nature Preserve. Also in 2013, SPLT acquired a 10-year lease on 640-acres of Colorado State Land Board land, for the purpose of prairie wildlife conservation. In 2015, we doubled the size of Raven's Nest Nature Preserve to 4,800 acres (that's 7.5 square miles!). In 2015, we also acquired the Heartland Ranch, which is approximately 11,000 acres in size. We restored bison to Heartland Ranch, which has a herd of 85 animals. In addition, we are actively engaged in outreach efforts, in the classroom and the field, to show how thrilling and diverse the shortgrass prairie can be.

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Southern Plains Land Trust became an accredited land trust in February 2018, a status that can be renewed every five years. Accreditation means Southern Plains Land Trust meets national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. Southern Plains Land Trust demonstrated to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission its commitment to excellence. Accredited land trusts meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. These land trusts demonstrate the commitment to excellence by adopting Land Trust Standards and Practices, the ethical and technical guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust, and meeting the accreditation requirements drawn from them. To learn more about land trust accreditation and the current accreditation status of Southern Plains Land Trust, visit http//www.landtrustaccreditation.org/about.