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Know the West

A ranch rescued

  The Nature Conservancy of Utah is spending $4.6 million to save a working ranch from developers. The Dugout Ranch near Canyonlands National Park is now safely in conservancy hands since owner Heidi Redd and conservancy officials closed a deal Oct. 15.

"I couldn't be happier," said a relieved Redd. "The Nature Conservancy has bent over backwards to satisfy all of us." Redd explained that when she and her family needed to sell the ranch, she approached the nonprofit to keep the property intact and out of the hands of developers.

The conservancy has raised $3.7 million, and needs another $933,000 by Jan. 1, 1999, in order to qualify for a grant from the Kresge Foundation. Otherwise, conservancy spokeswoman Libby Ellis said, the group will take out a loan to pay the difference.

The group's goal is to preserve the 5,167-acre ranch, plus 250,000 acres of federal grazing allotments, as a working model of sustainable ranching, as well as to save the ranch's fragile desert environment. The conservancy has already protected 525,000 acres on 77 different projects in Utah.

"We didn't really want to see condos and golf courses at the gateway of Canyonlands National Park," Ellis said. Black bears, mountain lions, rare plants and archaeological sites also make the Dugout Ranch a top priority for the conservancy.

Ellis called the conservancy's desire to buy the ranch a "logical match" with Redd's progressive ranching, which has preserved 42 miles of riparian area in the second driest state in the country. Ellis said she hopes the Dugout Ranch deal provides a good example to conservationists.

Redd will keep her cattle and continue running the ranch for the next 10 years. But, said Redd, "I'll be on the ranch until I die."

For more information, call The Nature Conservancy at 801/531-0999, or write, 559 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84102.

" Jason Lenderman