Check out the Spring 2020 Field Notes Quarterly Newsletter from the Colorado State Land Board

Spring 2020


New agriculture grazing rates go into effect July 1, 2020. View the new rates.

Rate adjustments vary for lessees. Adjustments are based on a four tiered system that accounts for geography (grazing regions), ownership of onsite improvements, and other factors.

Depending on those factors, rates per animal unit month (AUM) will range from $13.40 (tier 3) to $22.18 (tier 1). The vast majority of lessees fall into the tier 2 category with rates that will range from $14.29 to $19.71 per AUM. These rates will go into effect over a staggered, two-year period. An AUM is the amount of forage needed by an “animal unit” grazing for one month.

On average, the grazing rates on trust land are 20 percent lower than private rates. We offer lower rates because typically onsite improvements are owned by the lessee who is responsible for that maintenance. Also, we hold lessees accountable to a higher standard of land stewardship.

Grazing rates are reviewed every three years. The new rates are based on a statewide survey completed by agriculture statisticians from Colorado State University. The next rent rate review occurs in 2022.

Details about the rate adjustment process are available in the meeting notes from our public board meetings.

Ninety-eight percent of trust land in Colorado is leased for agriculture. Money earned from rent supports Colorado public schools. We’ve generated $1.7 billion for schools since 2008. We are proud to be the primary funding source for the Department of Education’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST), which provides capital construction grants to schools.

Watch a 90-second video about how your rent flows to Colorado schools.

Mountain Valley elementary students in Saguache County cut the ribbon at the grand opening of their new school. The school district received a $27 million capital construction BEST grant.

Biologist studies rare lichens at Chancellor Ranch

Students, teachers, and families are adjusting to virtual classrooms during the COVID-19 quarantine guidelines. In particular, how do teachers offer science classes that would otherwise include hands-on experiments or field work?

Erin Tripp, assistant professor at the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, had an innovative solution to host virtual field lessons for her biology students on state trust land.

While hosting her virtual lessons from Chancellor Ranch in Las Animas County, Tripp studied rare lichen communities along the Purgatoire and Perly canyon escarpments (pictured right). The lichens have special micro-climates, including one or two that support small, disjunctive populations of aspen at relatively low elevations.

“Being able to include rare lichen biota on state trust lands in a short series of educational films gave my students an especially meaningful, online ‘field’ experience when COVID-19 stay-in-place restrictions prevented them from going into the field,” said Tripp.

Upon request, Colorado trust land is available for educational and research activities. FFA and 4H groups visit properties regularly, and past research partners include CU-Boulder, Colorado State University, the Nature Conservancy, Colorado Herbarium, Denver Botanic Gardens, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, and more.

Watch a 90-second tutorial about lichens that Professor Tripp filmed at Chancellor Ranch:

Mount Pleasant Schoolhouse (c. 1911) in Alamosa listed on the national historic registry

In 1888, a single-room public school was built on a section of trust land located eight miles northwest of Alamosa, Colorado.

The original school building was replaced twice and the last structure, built in 1911, remains on the site today (pictured right and below).

The Mount Pleasant School served three generations of students until 1965 when it was shuttered. The schoolhouse was also used as a place to register for the draft during World War II, and as a site for volunteers to roll bandages during the war.

In 1989, the Mount Pleasant School Association took ownership of the building and successfully got it listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. The size, scale, window placement, and interior configuration epitomize a typical American rural schoolhouse. The clustered windows and hipped roof reflect turn-of-the-century “innovations” in rural school design.

Today the Mount Pleasant School building is in a state of deterioration. The Mount Pleasant School Association is restoring the structure to convert it to a museum. Ownership of the underlying land is required in order to qualify for certain grants. 

The State Land Board rarely sells trust land. Yet in March 2020 our Commissioners accepted a one acre purchase offer from Alamosa County for the land located beneath the schoolhouse.

We are delighted to help the Alamosa community preserve this historic schoolhouse,” said Greg Ochis, Assistant Director, Colorado State Land Board. “We hope that by owning the land under the building, the Alamosa community is successful in obtaining grants to restore the unique and historic building that has deep ties to the community dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

Questionnaire helps determine cost-sharing opportunities

All agriculture and recreation lessees who lease trust land designated in the Stewardship Trust are required to complete an annual questionnaire. If you already completed the questionnaire, thank you!

Your feedback helps us:

  • improve stewardship,
  • understand current uses,
  • identify any issues on your leased land, and
  • help our staff determine if you are eligible for cost-sharing opportunities.

Begin the questionnaire now if you lease land designated into the Stewardship Trust. You do not need to complete this questionnaire if your lease is not in the Stewardship Trust.

The Stewardship Trust is a special management designation for only 10 percent of trust land properties that feature exceptional natural values. The Colorado Constitution requires that Stewardship Trust properties be managed to a high standard of care.

210,000 acres of trust land newly enrolled

Of the 2.8 million acres of trust land in Colorado, 98 percent is leased for agriculture. Additionally, nearly one-third is leased for recreation.

The Public Access Program (PAP) provides seasonal hunting and fishing opportunities on Colorado trust land across the state. Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) manages the program and provides enforcement services.

In spring 2020, the Commissioners from both the State Land Board and CPW voted to enroll an additional 210,000 acres into the program in time for the 2020 fall hunting season, bringing the total enrollment to 776,000 acres.

The enrollment is part of a multi-year plan to expand the PAP up to one million acres. Whenever possible, the State Land Board offers multiple leases on the same parcel of land in order to raise more money for Colorado public schools.

State trust lands enrolled in the PAP are open to a variety of wildlife-related uses, primarily hunting and fishing.

The Colorado Hunting Atlas is an interactive map that depicts all trust land enrolled in the PAP:

Yellow nutsedge and flowering rush

The State Land Board partners with lessees to manage noxious weeds on trust lands. We follow the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s noxious weed list that puts weeds into management categories. Contact your district manager if you have questions about, or need support in, managing noxious weeds. We may be able to offer weed mitigation cost-sharing.

Help us eradicate these two noxious weeds:

Yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) is a warm season, perennial species that is native to Europe and blooms June to October. The root system on each plant can produce hundreds to thousands of hard, round, brown-black tubers in a season that can survive 3 to 4 years.

Identifying attributes:

  • Plants can range from 6″ to 30″ tall
  • Flowers are umbrella-shaped and yellowish-brown in color
  • Stems are pithy and triangular in cross-section

Flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus) is an extremely invasive perennial that reproduces both by seed and vegetatively by roots and shoots. It is an aquatic plant found along lake shores and slow-moving rivers, and in water up to 9′ deep.

Alert! Flowering rush was recently found in Grand Junction in a tributary to the Colorado River. Keep your eyes out for this incredibly noxious weed, and report any sightings.

Identifying attributes:

  • Flowers are 1″ wide and bloom in late summer
  • Leaves are sword-like and up to 3′ tall by ½”  wide
  • Plants grow up to 5′ tall and have brown fruits ½ ” long

[Source and photo credits: Colorado Department of Agriculture, Lois M. Landry, and John Cardina.]


Use our maps to look up land
View your account online
Contact us with questions/comments
Join us at board meetings and/or read the meeting minutes


By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian 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.