San Isabel Celebrates Land Conservation and Announces 2nd Annual Alice Proctor Outstanding Volunteer Award

San Isabel Land Protection Trust honored longtime supporter and Westcliffe resident Dianne Whalen with the 2nd Annual Alice Proctor Outstanding Volunteer Award during its annual Beer and Brats appreciation barbecue at Texas Creek Ranch on Sunday.

Over 200 people gathered to celebrate land conservation during the Land Trust’s annual donor appreciation BBQ. Texas Creek Ranch is one of the Valley’s oldest productive ranches dating back to the 1870’s with productive hayfields and senior water rights. Previously owned by Bill and the late Smokey Jack, the ranch was sold to Larry and Ann Gerdes in 2011. The Gerdes placed a conservation easement on the ranch in 2012 that is held by San Isabel Land Protection Trust. To read more about Texas Creek Ranch, click here.


“Volunteers are the backbone of our organization,” said Ben Lenth, SILPT executive director. “We have over 50 volunteers annually working with us toward our mission of protecting land and water in our valley. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”

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Peggy Kavookjian presents the award. Ben Lenth, SILPT Executive Director in the background.

Peggy Kavookjian, last year’s recipient, presented the award. “Dianne has been an integral part of San Isabel over the last twelve years, including as the former Board President. She assisted San Isabel with becoming one of the first Land Trust’s in the United States to become accredited through the Land Trust Alliance, and continues her commitment to land conservation as the current Chairperson of Art for the Sangres, San Isabel’s largest fundraiser of the year,” she said.

Dianne Whalen receives award

Dianne Whalen receives award.

The award is given in the memory of founding SILPT board member Alice Proctor who continued to be involved with the land trust until her death in 2012.

“Since we last met, San Isabel has protected over 1,100 acres, and is forging ahead with many new projects. But our challenges are increasing. We lost one ranch in our service area this year to a municipal Water District on the Front Range. With the population in Colorado expected to double by 2050, we will continue to see this trend. The time for conservation is now. We must protect the valuable resources of our valley if we want them to be here for our children and grandchildren", Lenth concluded.

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Younger guests explore outside.

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The rain didn't keep any of the guests away! Pictured here: Rose Lenth


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Ranchers were invited to bring their branding iron for the branding board.


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The future generation: Grant Rusk


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Randy Rusk (left) of Rusk Hereford Ranches and Ariel Steele of Tax Credit Connection

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Larry Gerdes: Texas Creek Ranch

Texas Creek Ranch barn where party was hosted

The barn at Texas Creek Ranch


Photography by Kate Hogins of Preservation Photography



We have protected more than 42,000 acres through 134 conservation easements.

Conservation easements guarantee long-term protection – through generations of landowners.