The Higel Family
The Higel Ranch
Alamosa, Colorado

The Higel Family has owned and operated the Higel Ranch on the Rio Grande in Colorado’s San Luis Valley since the early 1900s. The ranch is operated by Jim Higel and his wife Janet, their son and daughter-in-law Greg and Shondell Higel, and their grandchildren Cory, Taylor, and Alec.

In 1997, the Higels sold half of their riparian corridor land and substantial water rights to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, creating the Higel State Wildlife Area. The Higels now help manage the land, continuing traditional cattle grazing and haying while sustaining habitat for wildlife such as the federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. The Higels are also permanently protecting their private land through a conservation easement with Ducks Unlimited, supported by the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants, and the El Pomar Foundation.

Active service in their community and the importance of water for agriculture and wildlife are priorities for the Higels. Jim served on the Rio Grande Water Users (a regional water owners’ organization) in the 1960s and was one of the original members of the Rio Grande Senior Water Users. Greg currently serves on the boards of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, Rio Grande Senior Water Users, Rio Grande Basin Roundtable, and Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Foundation.