1st Founders Award recipients instrumental in early lower Blue River Valley conservation efforts
Pam Beardsley and her late husband, George, honored
The nonprofit Friends of the Lower Blue River came to be with the help of a group of residents who were passionate about conserving the Blue River Valley and protecting it from future development.
To honor those who were instrumental in founding the nonprofit and sharing its conservation mission, Friends of the Lower Blue River created the Founders Award, which it will present annually to an individual or couple who has contributed significantly to local conservation efforts.
Friends of the Lower Blue River Executive Director Jonathan Knopf said the award is something the board felt was long overdue.
“So many folks have focused on the lower Blue River Valley, hoping to preserve its integrity and its pristine beauty. It’s a jewel of Colorado,” Knopf said. “In our position to help maintain the integrity and beauty of the lower Blue Valley, we felt it was important to recognize people who have made a difference.”
The first recipients of the award are Pam Beardsley and her late husband, George, for the work they did to place a conservation easement on their Brush Creek Ranch and to help neighboring ranches in the Blue River Valley to do the same.
“They really recognized early that there was a need to unify the residents to protect the interests of this area,” Knopf said. “In the late ’90s, they could foresee that there would be development interests that could degrade our pristine lower Blue Valley.”
The Beardsleys brought together a group of stakeholders and ranchers to talk about just that, and the group evolved into what is known today as Friends of the Lower Blue River.
“The Beardsleys were very instrumental in really getting Friends of the Lower Blue River off the ground and into reality, and so that’s why they were the perfect choice to receive the first annual award,” Knopf said.
Beardsley said she is humbled to be recognized and was adamant that the award represents a group effort and not just the work of her and her husband. She said their ranch was adjacent to one that already had a conservation easement on it, and when her and her husband bought Brush Creek Ranch, it was sold to them on the basis that they would also put a conservation easement on the property.
A conservation easement permanently protects a farm, ranch, wildlife habitat or scenic area from any kind of future development. Beardsley said other than her house, a small guest house and a ranch manager’s house — which were all originally planned in the easement — no future development will be permitted on the Brush Creek Ranch.
“We were all of like mind in the fact that the lower Blue is different from any other part of the Blue, and it needed people to care about it and try to keep it as undeveloped as possible and keep it as wonderful as it is,” Beardsley said.
Beardsley said this group of lower Blue River residents decided they needed an “honest to goodness” group tasked with caring for every part of the lower Blue River Valley, which led to the formation of Friends of the Lower Blue River.
While Beardsley doesn’t live at the ranch full time, she frequents the property, often alongside her children and grandchildren.
“The Beardsleys exemplified a firm foundation upon which the Friends of the Lower Blue River was built and sustained,” board member Sam Kirk wrote in an email. “George and Pam supported, represented and fought for the commitment to (our organization’s) mission of maintaining the historical and environmental integrity of the lower Blue.”
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