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The Central Colorado Conservancy’s Hands For Lands volunteer work team is continuing to help landowners clear ditches in preparation for the irrigation season. It has scheduled four more work days to help ranchers get ready for the growing and grazing season.

From 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Wednesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 18, Hands for Lands volunteers will for the first time, help clean the Riverside Ditch just north of Buena Vista, which has some of the oldest water rights in Colorado. It runs for seven miles, serving 19 shareholders while irrigating several ranches protected by conservation easements, and passing through an important elk corridor. The Riverside Ditch also provides water to the Jumping Good Goat Dairy and an Animal Rescue. President of the ditch company Laura Berchard, says she is really excited about having help from the Central Colorado Conservancy for the first time this year.

Also from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Monday, April 22 and Tuesday, April 23, Hands for Lands will help Abby Hutchinson prepare the Del Monte ditch for irrigation season. The Hutchinson Ranch is a seventh generation family ranch located between Salida and Poncha Springs. The ditch begins up by the disc golf course in Poncha Springs and runs four miles to the Hutchinson Ranch, through pinon trees as well as two subdivisions. It feeds two center pivots that irrigate grass hay and alfalfa fields.

The Hutchinson Ranch doesn’t just provide community value, including scenic beauty, deer and elk habitat, it also offers opportunities for children to get out on the land and learn about agriculture. This youth agricultural education project is the result of a partnership with Guidestone Colorado, located at the Hutchinson Ranch Homestead.

Hands for Lands is an effort that is part of the Envision Keeping Working Lands Working/Growing Good Neighbors program, that aims to help maintain sustainable agriculture and beautiful rural landscapes as Chaffee County grows. Clearing ditches of trash, tree limbs and other debris is hard, but fulfilling work, and the community’s efforts are greatly appreciated by ranchers.

Interested volunteers are asked to send an e-mail to receive workday details. The volunteer contact is Conservancy Watershed Restoration Specialist Buffy Lenth, who can be reached at