After over 70 years of owning the Lazy V Quarter Circle cattle ranch, the Bershenyi family fulfilled their vision to permanently conserve it for future generations to enjoy and to honor the family’s ranching heritage. We were fortunate to learn the history from Stephen Bershenyi.
In 1941 Stephen’s father, grandfather and uncle bought a total of 2,400 acres just south of Glenwood Springs in a tax default sale because they needed additional rangeland for their cattle. Over the years some of the property was sold, including a parcel that was eventually traded to the U.S. Forest Service. In 1990, Stephen’s father and uncle were ready to retire and sold all but 640 acres of meadow. When his father passed away in 1992, Stephen spoke to his uncle, four siblings and two cousins about doing a conservation easement to preserve the property that was such a big part of their history. The goal was to preserve the land in perpetuity while also providing some limited opportunities for hunting. It took over 20 years of discussions before they reached an agreement. Although it was a long process, it was totally amicable. Stephen jokes that the family’s need to discuss and agree on everything is often frustrating to others, but never to each other.
Jonathan Lowski, of Colorado Wildlife Science, LLC., did the baseline survey for the easement. According to Jonathan, of the many, many properties he has completed baselines on over the past 20 years or so, this property is one of the best – providing habitat for rare species (e.g., northern leopard frogs), charismatic species (e.g., moose), and providing protection for ecological communities at an especially large elevation range. Part of what makes Lazy V Quarter Circle so special is its incredible diversity. The property hosts multiple micro and macro ecosystems which house a huge variety of flora and fauna. Lazy V Quarter Circle has everything from pine forests to open grasslands. It is home to at least 5 species of hawks, 4 species of owls, mule deer, elk, moose, bobcats, bears, mountain lions, northern leopard frogs and at least one wolf. In fact, 15 years ago, Stephen discovered the only known pair of trumpeter swans in Colorado living next door at Hughes Reservoir. At the time, the mated pair had cygnets (baby swans). They returned with cygnets every year until about 5 years ago when one of them disappeared. One of the pair returned the following year with a mated pair of one of her offspring. She got them acclimated and now that pair returns every year with their cygnets!
In 2014, the first conservation easement preserved 320 acres of the property. The remaining 320 acres was preserved in 2017. The family also worked with the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife to put a wildlife conservation easement on the land. The land now provides opportunities for two hunters per species per season. Today, the Bershenyis mainly manage The Lazy V Quarter Circle for the benefit of wildlife. They do things such as irrigating, planting and repairing portions to support the various species. In the summer, they also use it for camping and recreation. A portion of the land is actually still used for cattle grazing, as it was when the family first acquired it.