Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway receives Byway Community Award

CONEJOS COUNTY — The Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway completes its "Rancho la Luz — Conejos Ranchland Initiative — Preserving Working Wet Meadows" project and wins the Community Award.

Rancho la Luz, located near the Colorado-New Mexico border, is primarily an open ranchland and is an integral part of the southern San Luis Valley and Conejos County's agricultural landscape.

The property is part of a growing block of conserved land in the vicinity and is close to the 650-acre Sego Springs State Wildlife Area. The stunning pastoral landscape forms the backdrop for visitors traveling along State Highway 142, the state-designated Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway.

Conservation of this property is part of the Conejos Ranchland Initiative, a partnership between Colorado Open Lands, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust, and CCALT. The Rancho la Luz — Conejos Ranchland Initiative aims to protect important agricultural land in Conejos County by conserving four of the oldest ranches and permanent settlements in Colorado.

An intact cultural landscape that preserves the characteristic landscape along the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway contributes to the visitor experience. The preservation of these landscapes provides a quality experience in the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area's unique location.

The conservation easement on Rancho la Luz preserves the "sense of place" that makes the Los Caminos Byway a unique experience for visitors wanting to have a cultural experience and visualize what life would have been like for the earliest Spanish settlers

This cultural and historical ranch was settled over 150 years ago. John and Mary Lou Salazar, core conservators of Ranch la Luz, repurchased much of the property to keep the ranch intact.

Partners include the Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT), the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), Colorado Rio Grande Basin Implementation Plan, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife and County Commissioners.  And a special thanks to Kelly Ortiz for her help.

For more information about the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway, visit online www.sangreheritage.org/los-caminos/.