Grazing and Nesting

A grant issued by National Geographic and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funds four to five FLC students to help Catherine Ortega Ph.D. investigate the effects of different cattle grazing regimes on nesting birds.

An abstract of the grant reads:

"Livestock grazing is ubiquitous throughout western North America, and managers of public and private lands are actively seeking management recommendations that will enhance songbird populations. Previous studies showed that predation and Brown-headed Cowbird parasitism, which have been identified as major sources of nesting failure, may be influenced by livestock grazing. In southwestern Colorado, where cattle grazing is nearly continuous, realistic grazing options that will minimize possible negative effects for nesting birds need to be identified within the framework of cattle grazing as a dominant land use. This study focuses on investigation of the effects of three grazing options (ungrazed during nesting season, low grazing, and moderate grazing) in two habitats (Gambel Oak and riparian)."

Dr. Ortega reports that in the summer of 1998, they have located over 200 nests of 23 different species on the "old fort".

San Juan Basin Research Center

Research at the Old Fort provided many opportunities for graduate student research projects at Colorado State University. Over 40 MS theses and Ph.D. dissertations have been written on data collected at the Old Fort (San Juan Basin Research Center), and over 200 scientific papers and popular articles have been published.

In June 2010, Colorado State University closed the San Juan Basin Research Center at the Hesperus location.

View historical research records

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The Old Fort

18683 CO-140
Hesperus, CO 81326

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Land Acknowledgement 

We acknowledge the land that the Old Fort is situated upon is the ancestral land and territory of the Nuuchiu (Ute) people who were forcibly removed by the United States Government. We also acknowledge that this land is connected to the communal and ceremonial spaces of the Jicarilla Abache (Apache), Pueblos of New Mexico, Hopi Sinom (Hopi), and Diné (Navajo) Nations.

The Old Fort and Fort Lewis College are committed to reconciling their history as a federal Indian Boarding School from 1892 to 1909.

Learn more about reconciliation


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The Old Fort is owned by the Colorado State Land Board and managed by Fort Lewis College.