Tarryall Creek Ranch

5,037 acres located in the Rocky Mountain foothills, west of Denver, Colorado.
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Location: Colorado
Acquired: 2008
Sale: 2016

Value Creation

Wetland Restoration, River/Creek Restoration, Hazardous Material / Chemical / Other Cleanup,
Legal/Title Cleanup

Conservation impact

Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Adaptation, Battling Habitat Fragmentation and the Extinction Crisis

A century after un-remediated placer mining for gold severely degraded the wetland and creek, our cleanup of hazardous metals and mining residue, habitat restoration work, conservation easements and establishment of a wildlife management area now protect a true ecological treasure for the public to enjoy.

Before & After

Slide the arrows from left to right to see the transformation.

Restoration Partners: Colorado Open Land and Colorado Department of Wildlife

Experience The Ranch

The Challenge

Over a century ago, the creek meandered through the lush willow-laden riparian corridor, providing robust habitat for wildlife as diverse as trout, waterfowl, moose and elk. Early in the 1900s, the creek was placer mined for gold. Essentially, the entire creek bottom was mechanically picked up and deposited in 15-foot high piles on the banks of the creek. These tailing piles were scoured for gold, but never reclaimed. Besides being an unsightly mess, the creek was left with minimal habitat value. Trout, amphibian, waterfowl, moose, deer, antelope and elk habitat was lost. The prior owners had owned the ranch for nearly a century. With medical bills piling up, a looming estate problem developing and confusion about who owned what, the family opted to conduct a quick, quiet sale to Beartooth.

The Solution

We acquired the ranch in 2008, and set to work with Colorado Open Lands, Colorado Department of Wildlife and other non-profit and agency partners to right the ecological wrongs. We restored miles of over-grazed and degraded creek corridor and the associated wetlands, and rehabilitated the entire bottomland. Tailing piles scattered throughout the property, unsightly and potentially toxic remnants of historic, abandoned gold mining operations, were carefully removed. We also removed decades of garbage and ranch trash, and repaired or removed decrepit structures. The result is a serpentine, deep, beaver dam-laden, water table-raising, cold water-producing creek system that provides habitat for all sorts of wildlife. Working with conservation partners at the federal, state, and county levels, we placed two conservation easements on the property.

The Future

Post-restoration, the state of Colorado acquired the main ranch and still manages it as a public-access Wildlife Management Area. The property is now not only protected from degradation and development in perpetuity, but it offers a sustainable means of public access to wild places within an easy drive of Denver.

Tarryall Creek Ranch Areas of Value Creation

Wetland Restoration

Restoration and rehabilitation of entire area of bottomland, resulting in thriving wildlife habitat.

River/Creek Restoration

Restoration of three miles of mined and degraded creek corridor.

Hazardous Material / Chemical / Other Cleanup

Removal of mining tailing piles, garbage and ranch trash dumps, and decrepit structures.

Legal/Title Cleanup

Thorough title review determined that the sellers owned 500 more acres than they had previously realized.