The Continuing Saga of Hill Ranch

By Ron Sering Editor’s note: This article is a follow-up to one written in our January/February 2013 issue.  The long journey for the area near Nathrop known as Hill Ranch began in 1886, when irrigation rights were first established for use in agriculture and ranching. Exactly a century later, the Hill family sold the rights …

Read more

Dry Times in the High Desert: The Hill Ranch

By Ron Sering

Rights to irrigate the area known today as Hill Ranch predate Chaffee County by more than a decade. Decreed in 1868, the rights permitted diversion of water for agriculture and ranching. And so it remained for more than a century, even after sale of the rights by the Hill family to Western Water Rights Limited Liability Partnership in 1986.

That all changed with the subsequent sale of the rights to the Pueblo West Metropolitan District (PWMD) in 2008. The PWMD, home to nearly 30,000 thirsty people, needed the rights to fuel a growth rate that remains among the fastest in the state. The rights are significant, totaling nearly 1,900 acre feet of water. An acre foot totals nearly 326,000 gallons. Under the decree, the rights would convert from agricultural to municipal. Included in the terms was the cessation of irrigation activities. The land would be dried up and restored to its pre-irrigation state.

Read more