In 1983, Jake and Terry Hershey granted Audubon an undivided interest in a portion of their 2200-acre Four Mile Ranch, located just north of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The property is under conservation easement and contains a wide variety of habitats including ponderosa pine and oak woodlands, old-growth aspen stands, grassy meadows, spruce-fir forests, and lush riparian zones along Snowball and Four Mile creeks.
Four Mile Ranch serves as the site for Audubon’s Four Mile Ranch Environmental Education program, which is Audubon’s premier outdoor education program for school children in southwest Colorado.
The ranch provides a valuable connection to surrounding National Forest lands for wildlife corridors, and preserves upper regions of watersheds containing tributaries of the San Juan River. Pastures are leased for cattle grazing during the summer months, but hunting is not permitted on the property and human visitors are few in number. Excellent management practices allow Four Mile Ranch to serve as both a working ranch and a sanctuary that is utilized by numerous wildlife species including elk, mule deer, coyote, fox, mountain lion, bobcat and black bear.
A series of inventories in 2007-2008 documented 132 bird species at the ranch, including Grace’s and Virginia’s warblers, more commonly seen farther west and south. All of Southwest Colorado’s woodpecker species are present, including Lewis’s, Downy, Hairy, and American Three-toed woodpeckers, Williamson’s and Red-naped Sapsuckers, and Northern Flicker. Surveys of the ranch property and surrounding lands are continuing, to better document populations of specific birds and to assess the extent and value of bird habitats in the area.
For a list of all Four Mile Ranch bird species compiled to date, click here