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The Central Colorado Conservancy Hands for Lands volunteer work team will help clear ditch at the gorgeous Kelly Ranch just south of Buena Vista this Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28. The Kelly Ranch is permanently protected by a conservation easement. It has the largest natural fen at this altitude in Colorado and was recently added to the National Historic Places register.

Central Colorado Conservancy volunteers clear ditch during a work day last season. Chaffee County’s ditches deliver the water that helps local ranchers green up their fields every season. Photo by Mark Fox

This ditch project has two stages. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday the ditch is cleaned then the water is turned on. A bucket brigade helps clear gravel out of the head of the ditch. Then from 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday, it’s time to don rubber boots and get in the ditch with the water flowing to clear leaf and stick jams that develop in the ditch.

Rancher Dave Kelly helped start the Hands for Lands program, which encouraged volunteers to help local ranchers with land stewardship projects. He will provide a BBQ lunch for volunteers who come to help out on Saturday.

“The fields are starting to look thirsty, and it’s time to get water out on the meadows to green up the grass and recharge these fantastic wetlands,” said Kelly.

For volunteer details, contact Conservancy Water Restoration Specialist Buffy Lenth at