Farm & Ranch Living

Water Storage Smarts

- MARSHA DAUGHENBAU­GH

Water law in Colorado is extremely complex, but we are fortunate to have water rights that date back to 1892. Those rights allow us to irrigate meadows and pastures and use the water for livestock. This is the time of year when a great deal of manual labor goes into preparing the ditches and infrastruc­ture so water will flow efficientl­y onto the grasses. As you look up and down the valley, you will spot shovel-toting, mosquito-swatting, wader-wearing ranchers encouragin­g the water to do its best work.

Our ranch has good water for both livestock and wildlife, in part because we have developed and maintained man-made watering facilities. We have created dams

to catch water by adding breastwork­s across draws and laid undergroun­d pipelines to direct the flow of water from natural springs to water tanks. These practices save water and lessen soil erosion. Strategic placement of water sources and mineral feeders helps encourage cattle to graze throughout our pastures, consuming and utilizing the grasses in areas ranging from 100 to 1,200 acres.

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