Those with a heart for volunteering, and a readiness to volunteer are needed to help the county’s agricultural community get ready for the growing season. The Central Colorado Conservancy will begin its ditch-clearing program from 9:00 a.m. To noon on April 3 and April 10 through the Hands For Lands volunteer work team (formerly called Conservation Stewards) on Brady Everett’s ditch.

Joyce Sailor in her ditch. Photo courtesy of Central Colorado Conservancy

As winter turns to spring, there are miles of ditch to clear in the Arkansas River Valley, says Conservancy Water Restoration Specialist Buffy Lenth of the Central Colorado Conservancy. While the work is beginning with the Everett ditch, other volunteers are also needed to help with the Kelly, Rooks and Sailor ranches near Buena Vista.

“The ditches are a challenge for local agricultural producers and landowners to get clear of debris before the water is turned on for the irrigation season,” says Lenth. “These ditches deliver the water that makes our valley’s open spaces [look]green and grow alfalfa. During deep-snow winters like this past one, [they] are critical habitat for wildlife like antelope and elk. The water also spreads out over the lands, impacting wells and wetlands.”

The Conservancy is asking that those who can volunteer contact Lenth to get details to attend a work day, or for an interview about the program. Contact her at buffy@centralcoloradoconservancy.org or cell number at 719-239-4772.

Lenth stresses that this volunteer effort to help ranches clear the hundreds of miles of ditches in the county is part of the Envision Keep Working Lands Working program. “It helps to support our local ag producers and maintain sustainable agriculture into the future,” said Lenth.