Heartland Ranch Nature Preserve
Established in 2015 and expanded subsequently, Heartland Ranch sprawls across approximately 43,000 acres (almost 70 square miles). This is an area bigger than any one of Colorado’s state parks and several national parks. It is located in Bent County, which has some of the best remaining intact shortgrass prairie habitat in the Southern Plains.
SPLT has reintroduced a herd of bison on the property. Other large animals include pronghorn, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and elk (a rarity in the shortgrass prairie). Dozens of miles of seasonal streams thread through the property, in addition to a variety of native animals and plants. The rolling grassland terrain supports black-tailed prairie dogs, which are a keystone species in the prairie.
Several rare plants are found on Heartland, as documented in our June 2017 BioBlitz, including Colorado Green Gentian and Arkansas Valley Evening Primrose.
Thanks to Great Outdoors Colorado and the Colorado Lottery for supporting the expansion of Heartland Ranch in 2018 and again in 2020 and 2022. Those projects earned SPLT the Starburst Award in 2020. The 2020 purchase added approximately 7,000 acres to Heartland Ranch, much of which lies within the Medford Spring Grassland Conservation area, which NativeEnergy helped us to purchase through a forward sale of carbon credits. In July 2022, we added nearly 18,000 additional acres to Heartland. Read about that expansion effort here.