The Pikes Peak Conservation Corridor (PPCC) rests at the foot of Pikes Peak, the inspiration for Katherine Lee Bates’ America the Beautiful. The PPCC is a block of ecologically sensitive public and private lands that frame the north slope of ‘America’s Mountain’ between Woodland Park and Divide, Colorado. After touring the PPCC in 2002, Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar (now Secretary of the Interior) noted that the area is “one of the crown jewels” of open space preservation in the state.
Approximately 6,000 acres of the PPCC have been placed under conservation easement through the combined efforts of spirited ranchers, non-profit organizations, local and county officials, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW), Great Outdoors Colorado, and the Palmer Land Trust. Palmer holds easements on over 4,900 of the 6,000 acres.
The PPCC is not an isolated block of protected lands; it is contiguous to the Pike National Forest and the 12,000-acre Mueller State Park and Dome Rock State Wildlife Area. The Mueller Ranch (now known as Mueller State Park and Dome Rock State Wildlife Area) was purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 1979 and remains one of Colorado’s signature conservation projects. Land protection efforts around Mueller State Park & Dome Rock have continued since that time, despite intense subdivision pressure in Teller County.
The PPCC is important to wildlife populations for many reasons. Two are fundamental. First, the area hosts a large, resident elk population, preserving a critical migration corridor and calving area. Second, the block of land forms a portion of two major headwaters: those of the South Platte and Arkansas rivers. Many creeks that eventually pour into the South Platte and Arkansas rivers have their origins in the PPCC. The South Platte and Arkansas are rivers of local, state, and national significance, and both river basins can actually be found in the PPCC.
Below are a few examples of important properties Palmer has protected to date in the Pikes Peak Conservation Corridor: