The Bruchez family was awarded Middle Park Conservation District’s “Conservationists of the Year” at the recent Middle Park Stockgrowers and Middle Park Conservation District (MPCD) Annual Dinner.
Each year, MPCD selects deserving individuals who have focused on conservation. In the past, contractors as well as ranchers have been honored by the organization.
This year, the Bruchez family received the honor for their conservation work. Two decades ago, Art and Roberta Bruchez and their three sons moved to the Williams Fork Valley after purchasing the Taussig and Mayhoffer ranches. Now fathers themselves, the Bruchez families are raising the sixth generation of Colorado ranchers. Together, the family works nearly 6,000 acres of land, and also operates a fly fishing guide business.
Middle Park’s District Conservation Technician, Mark Volt, highlighted the Bruchez’ conservation practices, including: irrigation improvements with headgate/diversion, ponds, and turnouts; and range improvements including building ponds, creating wildlife habitat, seeding with clover/legume (which improves soil quality, higher protein forage and is a good wildlife feed), and placing property into a conservation easement. The Bruchez family have also been active participants in the Regional Conservation Partnership Program
(RCPP) Colorado River Projects.
Receiving special acknowledgement was Paul Bruchez. According to Volt, who presented the award, “Paul has really stepped up in the last four years and has taken on a leadership role. He has really made things happen.” Volt said of Paul’s work with the Irrigators of Lands in the Vicinity of Kremmling (ILVK) group (landowners along the Colorado River near Kremmling).
Paul has become a spokesman for the ILVK and has championed the health of the Colorado River, specifically the 12 miles that meander through the Bruchez property and that of their neighbors. ILåVK has received more than $2.5 million in grants to help restore the river.
The improvements have gained the attention of state senators, governors and others, and it serves as an example for other projects. ILVK has stabilized banks and created riffles, and ultimately returned the river to a healthier ecosystem – with growing fish populations and the return of crawdads and other aquatic life.
“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program addresses agriculture and river issues as a system rather than individual pieces,” said Paul who was quick to share the project’s success with others in the room and pointed to Bill Thompson, who originally pioneered the work for the RCPP.
He also thanked Kelly and Shawn Farrell of Farrell Excavating for, “going above and beyond the call of duty,” when completing the work for the conservation projects.
“I see all of this work as community coming together to do good things,” said Paul humbly.