‘Ferry’ Carpenter’s homestead, west of Steamboat, gains conserved status | SteamboatToday.com

‘Ferry’ Carpenter’s homestead, west of Steamboat, gains conserved status

The grandchildren of legendary Routt County renaissance man Farrington Carpenter have agreed to place his 1907 homestead under a conservation easement.

Farrington Carpenter  would probably be pleased to know that his grandchildren, siblings Reed and Belle Zars, have reached an agreement with the Nature Conservancy to conserve Farrington's Oak Point Homestead north of Hayden with the help of Routt County taxpayers.

The transaction, which has yet to close, would protect 200 acres straddling Routt County Road 80 in California Park that is significant in both to wildlife in the area, but to local history.

The 200 acres are part of a larger conservation effort in the area, with easements on parcels managed in some cases by the Nature Conservancy, and in others, by the Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust. Combined, they  represent the conservation of an intact elk range as well as significant habitat for imperiled sage grouse. The property also serves as home to bears, deer and many species of birds in a landscape dominated by sagebrush and gambel oak.

"This is a great piece of the puzzle to establish a wildlife migration corridor through Routt County," Claire Sollars, chairwoman of Routt County's Purchase of Development Rights Committee, said Tuesday.

“This is a great piece of the puzzle to establish a wildlife migration corridor through Routt County,” Claire Sollars.

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Farrington "Ferry" Carpenter was Routt County's version of a pioneer renaissance man, who bridged frontier days and the modern era.

The conserved land appraised at $220,000, and Sollars and her board recommended to the Board of County Commissioners that it apply $120,000 in dedicated property taxes to the easement with another $13,000 applied to the Zars closing costs. That leaves the owners to contribute 46 percent of the the value of their land to the easement, which will protect the land from any future development.

The conservation of the homestead is also significant due to Farrington Carpenter's legacy as a pivotal figure in moving remote Routt County into the 21st century. He filed for his homestead in 1907 at the age of 21.

After building upon the success of one of the most prominent early ranches in the Hayden area, Carpenter went on to run the federal agency that was the predecessor of the Bureau of Land Management.

Geoff Blakeslee, the Nature Conservancy's Yampa River Project director, pointed out that the easement represents another piece in a puzzle that has reassembled a significant piece of wildlife habitat in the region.

"Having healthy, abundant, wildlife corridors is extremely important for northwest Colorado's ecosystem," Blakeslee said in a news release. "Northwest Colorado supports the largest concentration of greater sage grouse population in the state. Anytime we get an opportunity to protect their habitat it's a win for the threatened bird."

Prior to the board approval of the expenditure, the PDR Board's Claire Sollars explained to the commissioners that the transaction divided the overall acreage into two parcels of 120 and 80 acres, allowing the siblings to maintain their own homes within defined building envelopes on the property.

Reed Zars lives in a faithful replica of the homestead cabin — the original burned in 1978 — but the original barn still stands.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1