The Rehder Ranch Nature Preserve is a perfect example of how community partnerships can sustain the parting wishes of one of Routt County’s most impressive and memorable families, Helen and Henry Rehder. Yampa Valley Land Trust (YVLT) has embraced partnerships with other organizations in the Yampa Valley, such as Historic Routt County, Yampatika, state universities, Colorado Division Wildlife and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program to ensure that the Rehder Ranch’s inherent qualities as a nature preserve always remain.
In speaking on efforts to keep the Rehder Ranch in line with Helen Rehder’s wishes as a nature preserve, YVLT Executive Director Susan Dorsey said, “What better way to honor Helen. It reflects her deep love of the land, her love of art, her love for history and wildlife. This range of partners has the opportunity to touch so many aspects of this community and underscores Helen’s passion and her mission that mirrors our community’s passions and stated priorities. The opportunities are exciting.”
The Rehder Ranch is an icon in Northwest Colorado’s settlement history and a contributing legacy to the cultural landscape of the greater Yampa River Basin. Homesteaded first in the early 1900’s, the Ranch is now owned by Yampa Valley Land Trust (YVLT) with a conservation easement on the property held by The Nature Conservancy.
HRC is proud to partner with YVLT for initial work that will launch the first phase of The Rehder Ranch Bank Barn Structural Rehabilitation Project. This is a multi-phased project that, when completed, will have restored the five historic structures located on the Historic Rehder Ranch. This project is being paid for in part by generous grants from the State Historical Fund of History Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society and the National Trust for Historic Preservation Peter Grant Fund.
The Rehder Ranch, located in Pleasant Valley, approximately 12 miles south of Steamboat Springs, is owned by Yampa Valley Land Trust and serves as a nature preserve, which will ultimately include an education center once the historic Main Residence is restored during a future phase of the project. The goals for the Phase I work on the Bank Barn are: (1) prevent further deterioration and/or collapse of the side stall roof structure, which may be threatened/impacted by heavy snow loads; (2) resolve the drainage issues that may have been compromising the structure’s foundation walls; (3) exclude from the structure and address any health and safety issues posed by the bats.
Historical Significance: Harry Rehder immigrated to Colorado from Lubeck, Germany in 1893 and homesteaded this land along Harrison Creek and up Bald Mountain. Henry, one of Harry’s sons, and his wife Helen were owners of this 250-acre parcel from 1930 to Helen’s passing in 2004. What began as a pioneer homestead for the Rehder family at the beginning of the twentieth century transformed into a viable working ranch with permanent buildings, both residential and agricultural.
The 250-acre Rehder Ranch was bequeathed to YVLT by Helen Rehder upon her death on May 9, 2004. The transfer of the property to YVLT from the Estate was finalized in April of 2009. YVLT’s goal for the property, per Helen’s Will, is to use the property as a nature preserve with the Main House serving as an education center (ecology and history) with meeting spaces, interpretive exhibits and opportunities for community events and the Bank Barn providing year-round housing for a Rehder Ranch caretaker.
With funding for this and future rehabilitation and preservation projects on the buildings at the Rehder Ranch, YVLT ensures that they will be maintained into the future for the benefit of the Northwest Colorado region and community of Steamboat Springs as a nature and educational center. The Rehder Ranch will serve the community through programs about historic preservation and pioneer families in northwest Colorado through events for the public and interpretive exhibits. The Main House is intended to be the nature education center with meeting spaces, exhibits, and opportunities for community events. The Bank Barn will serve the public through the property caretaker’s upkeep of the facilities and grounds and building and maintaining the hiking and snowshoeing trails. These trails allow visitors access to various areas of the property year-round to get a better sense of the historic ranch operation and foster an appreciation for northwest Colorado’s agricultural and ranching history.