— By Ken Nickel —

What does it mean to me that the Nickel Ranch will be permanently protected from development? Well there is no greater legacy my wife and I could leave on this earth. Why do I feel this way? Well, here are many reasons – here are five of them:

•    Nickel Ranch was a homestead by my great-grandfather in 1870. The following generations sacrificed to keep it together over the years. They did this because the land of always appreciated as part of God’s creation and it was their job to be good stewards and leave it in better than when they became the caretakers. This was the tradition that was handed down to me. 

•    As I grew up – playing, and then tending livestock on the ranch my own deep feeling for the land grew. I was off the ranch for 26 years while in the Air Force but in my heart I was always there. When I came back in 1993 and took over operation of the ranch, I set upon a plan of restoration – elimination of unfavorable vegetation, reseeding, livestock and wildlife management. My cross country running with my dogs was also a way of loving the land. In the back of my mind always was how I could preserve it for the future. I learned about Conservation Easements (not the name I would have chosen!). After sorting out suspicions and misconceptions,  I knew it was the answer. 

•    Our grandchildren (including the one in heaven) enjoy the land the way I did when I was a child – playing, hiking, camping, exploring, hunting and falling in love with the peace, freedom and adventure of the open spaces. As I spend time with them we have great discussions about being stewards, God’s creation and how they will do this with their children and grandchildren – all in the “secret places” I enjoyed when I was a child. My son-in-law (city slicker) says someday Nickel Ranch will be a “Central Park” like the one in NY City.

•    Going beyond the personal, passionate and faith centered reasons I am such a fan of Conservation Easement is the simple fact is that we are running out of green space, water and the country way of life. The government cannot preserve the land, most landowners (or their descendents) submit to the greed of selling the land for the big bucks and here comes another development. We that are fortunate to have land that has preserving qualities are called on to step up preserve what there will never be more of – land.

•    When I go sit on my favorite hill and look out over the land, I think about the generations before me, the current generation and the following generations. I think about how blessed my life has been and I feel an indescribable satisfaction that even IF my descendants do sell the land it will still be undeveloped and preserved.