Nature Conservancy, Dugout Ranch marks 25th anniversary of historic partnership
Nearly 200 people gathered at the Dugout Ranch in Lockhart Basin over the weekend to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the partnership between the Redd family and The Nature Conservancy an environmental nonprofit.
In the 1990’s the Redd family was seriously considering selling the Dugout Ranch and its 5,200 private acres to developers.
While the family at the time agreed they didn’t want to see the land developed, there seemed to be no path forward that didn’t result in the land eventually becoming privately developed.
A path did present itself through The Nature Conservancy.
The environmental nonprofit’s Utah arm under the direction of Dave Livermore worked with the Redd family to develop a plan to purchase the ranch which was completed in 1997.
Now 25 years later key contributors to the partnership participated in a celebration at the Dugout Ranch on Saturday, May 7.
Among the speakers at the event was Heidi Redd who operates the Dugout Ranch.
“I often feel, I never owned the Dugout Ranch, Heidi Redd never owned this place. This place has owned me from the minute I dropped into this valley and it has been my journey and my absolute love to keep this place free of development and in its beautiful natural state.”
Redd said when the ranch was threatened she did have conversations with people who had enough money to partner with but that those parties always wanted development.
Redd shared she felt guided to the eventual partnership with The Nature Conservancy and despite negotiations and ups and downs, she felt the partnership was vital to the success of the ranch.
“I can tell you the progress, and the dedication that the nature conservancy has put into the Dugout Ranch exceeds my expectations. I often say this, The Nature Conservancy was the best thing that ever happened to the Dugout Ranch.”
As a result of the partnership at the Dugout Ranch, the ranch also hosts the Canyonland Research Center which is an outdoor laboratory for scientists, universities, and federal agencies.
Recent projects include research into biocrust restoration and hybrid cattle amenable to arid regions.
The center’s mission is to foster research to inform communities in places like the Colorado Plateau.
Also speaking at the ranch was the Chief Executive Officer of The Nature Conservancy Jennifer Morris.
Morris shared that in her global travels she’s seen success in conservation requires two things, a committed leader and radical partnerships.
“We’ve seen partnerships between coal companies, conservationists, and solar developers in Appalachia. We’ve seen different parts of the political spectrum who have agreed that nature is a bi-partisan issue. We’ve seen cattle ranchers and conservationists come together and agree to put aside some of our differences and agree we have to work together to protect our one true place.”
Also speaking at the celebration were Matthew and Kristen Redd, who manage the Canyonlands Research Center. As well as Ute Mountain Ute Chairman Manual Hart, Utah Dine Bikeyah Executive Director Woody Lee, and Nature Conservancy Board member and former US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.