The Nature Center at Butler Corner, north of Dolores, will be preserved thanks to a recently completed conservation easement with the Montezuma Land Conservancy.
The 263-acre property features meadows, forests and trails and is home to many wildlife species. It is along Dolores-Norwood Road, where it corners into the San Juan National Forest.
Last year, landowner Kathy Butler, a retired teacher and former Dolores librarian, created the nature center as an outdoor classroom to teach young people the values of the natural world.
“It has long been my desire to use the land for the education of children, helping them to learn about nature firsthand,” she said. “Deciding to do an easement will ensure the land can be used for this purpose forever.”
The nature center includes five miles of trails with numerous bluebird houses along the way, an existing building renovated into a classroom, a modest old-fashioned school house and a “story trail” intended to bring picture books alive for children as they explore nature.
A devoted writer of children’s books, Butler also plans writing and literature programs for children at the center.
“The landowner’s passion for education and nature, combined with her love and stewardship of the property her family has lived on and farmed for more than 90 years make this a very special place,” said Marianne Mate of the land conservancy. “The conservation easement that will ensure that the natural habitat, scenic open-space and importantly the access for education and recreation remain viable into the future.”
It also works to protect and expand critical deer and elk habitat of the adjacent San Juan National Forest. Conservation easements are permanent, preserving open space with development restrictions that are attached to the property deed that pass on to future owners of the property.
The nonprofit Nature Center at Butler Corner is under the umbrella of the San Juan Resource Conservation and Development Council. It is open for schools, teachers and conservation groups seeking to conduct nature field trips.
In December, Great Outdoors Colorado awarded the land conservancy and the nature center a $264,560 grant to create the easement and help fund the educational programs.
“I want kids to learn to respect nature, learn about wildlife and get outdoors more,” Butler.
To learn more, visit the website at www.thenaturecenteratbutlercorner.org, or call 882-4593.