DENVER (CBS4/AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he’s creating a conservation area in the San Luis Valley now that billionaire Louis Bacon has agreed to protect more of his vast landholdings in southern Colorado.

“With this announcement today, the Southern Rockies really joins the league of the greatest landscapes in America,” said Salazar.

Salazar announced the designation of the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area on Friday, calling it a “glorious day for our nation, for the state of Colorado, for the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.”

Bacon is adding a conservation easement to protect nearly 77,000 acres of his 81,400-acre Trinchera Ranch from development.

“With these donations, it helps to create or does create a mosiac of privately held and publicly protected lands, preserving one of the longest wildlife corridors in America,” said Bacon.

conservation map Salazar Creates Sangre De Cristo Conservation Area

(credit: CBS)

He announced plans in June to add a perpetual conservation easement on his 90,000-acre Blanca Ranch if the federal government moved ahead with plans to create a new 5 million-acre conservation corridor in Colorado and New Mexico.

Bacon also fought efforts by energy companies to put transmission lines across his land.

The Blanca Ranch easement donation is expected to be finalized later this year. When completed the two easements will create the largest donation ever to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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