Earlier this summer we were invited by friends to join them at one of Ted Turner’s ranches for a long weekend. Vermejo Ranch is comprised of 585,000 acres in northeast New Mexico with part of the ranch overlapping into the Sangre de Christo mountains of southern Colorado. I had heard of Ted Turner before arriving but was unfamiliar with his interesting philosophical mix of conservation versus economic development in his ranches.
Vermejo Park is a working ranch with a large (2,000+) bison population (birthplace of CU’s mascot Ralphie V) as well as a guest ranch destination for fishing and sport shooting. Natural gas is still produced on the ranch with strict environmental controls and at one time coal was also mined. The ranch is also actively participating with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in attempts to establish a population of the endangered black footed ferrets on the ranch prairie lands and they are also working to conserve the Rio Grande cutthroat trout which is currently only found in 10% of its former range.
AND in spite of all the economic and conservation activity going on around us we managed to have a great time. We fly fished, rode horses, sat on the porch drinking wine, etc. I shot a gun for the first time ever with laughable results. I did finally manage to hit a large box that was lying very still on the ground not too far from me. I also managed to wound a fake, styrofoam elk with a bow and arrow. A real elk would never have let me get as close as I had to get to actually hit the fake elk and, in fact, I have no interest in actually hitting a real elk but maybe next time I’ll take a step or two back and see if I can still hit the fake one.