Tess Leach and her brother Duke Phillips, second and third from left, manage Chico Basin Ranch and were honored by Colorado Parks and Wildlife as Statewide Partners in the Outdoors for 2019. They were joined on stage at the Partners in the Outdoors conference by Dan Prenzlow, left, CPW Southeast Region manager, ranch manager-in-training Jake Meldon, Samantha Bradford, ranch education coordinator, and CPW’s Paul Foutz, native aquatic species biologist, at far right.Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife / Bill Vogrin

Chico Basin Ranch named CPW Statewide Partner of the Year

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – The Chico Basin Ranch has been honored with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Statewide Partners in the Outdoors Award for 2019. The award was announced at the annual Partners in the Outdoors conference on April 25 in Breckenridge. The ranch was nominated by CPW’s Paul Foutz, native aquatic species biologist, and Ed Schmal, conservation biologist, both in the Southeast Region. Accepting the award were Tess Leach and her brother Duke Phillips, managers of the ranch. The Chico Basin Ranch is an 87,000-acre, family-run cattle ranch 30 miles southeast of Colorado Springs. It is owned by the Colorado State Land Board. Besides raising cattle, the Chico hosts education, farming, recreation, sporting, arts and hospitality programs. In their nomination, Foutz and Schmal praised the ranch owners and managers for years of partnering with CPW “as we work on wildlife habitat improvement, land management, outdoor education, wildlife conservation and youth outreach, among other endeavors.”

“Chico Basin Ranch is managed in a way that exemplifies holistic land management and partnership, and that is driven by the Phillips family’s stewardship ethic and their drive to make visions a reality,” Foutz and Schmal said.

Most notably, the Phillips support CPW efforts to conserve and enhance diverse wildlife habitat on the ranch, including efforts to restore and improve wetlands and riparian habitat.

The nomination praised the collaboration for aiding management of the Arkansas darter, a state threatened species and subject of intense conservation and recovery efforts. The ranch has helped CPW conserve current populations and habitat, as well as work to establish new Arkansas darter populations in the Chico Creek drainage.

The Phillips also support CPW education and outreach programs through a multitude of outdoor education programs which are either led by the ranch or done cooperatively with CPW or other natural resource groups.

The CPW partnership with Chico is valued throughout the agency.

“This kind of work takes intense dedication,” said Dan Prenzlow, CPW’s Southeast Region manager. “In addition to sizeable financial contributions to the projects, family members and ranch staff put large amounts of sweat equity into these properties and projects. Without their unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation and land health, many projects would not be successful.”

CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW’s work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.


By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.