Changes Coming Soon to Chico Basin Ranch

Linda Hodges, Conservation Chair for Aiken Audubon, recently sent this alert to Aiken Audubon members about the changes that are going to be taking place for visiting Chico Basin Ranch. Reprinted here with permission from the author. Please read this thoroughly if you plan to visit this ranch in the future.

Some of you may be aware of the deliberations between Aiken Audubon and the Colorado State Land Board (SLB) over the past few years, regarding access to Chico Basin Ranch.

We’ve come to an agreement, though it will go into effect sooner than anticipated. Below are some of the conditions of Aiken’s layered lease with the SLB. Though the lease was recently approved by the SLB Board of Commissioners, we do not yet have a contract.

The lease and the changes listed below will go into effect on March 1, 2024. This is earlier than we, the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, and Ranchlands anticipated.

· Access: Birders will have access only 10 weeks of the year; 5 weeks each during spring and fall migration. The dates will coincide with Bird Conservancy of the Rockies’ banding operation. A few Aiken members will be able to visit the ranch one day/month during the off-months in order to maintain a year-round count of bird species.

Hours of access: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. only
Number of birders: Limited to 20 per day
Locations open to birders: Banding Station, Headquarters, and Rose Pond. Specific parking areas will be designated. Access to other parts of the ranch will not be allowed.
Reservations: Birders will be required to register and pay in advance via a registration system to be administered by Aiken. The daily fee has not yet been determined.
Time Frame: Aiken will hold a five-year lease, though either party may cancel at any time.

Again, the lease was approved by the State Land Board Commissioners on August 9th, but a final contract has not yet been presented to Aiken. We will keep you posted, but urge you to visit the ranch this migration season, while access is not yet limited.

Chico Basin Ranch. Photo by Diana Beatty.