DENVER (AP) — Billionaire Louis Bacon plans to protect the rest of his vast landholdings in southern Colorado from development if the government moves ahead with plans to create a new 5 million-acre conservation corridor in Colorado and New Mexico.

Bacon and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the plan Friday.

Bacon owns both the Trinchera and Blanca ranches, a total of 172,000 acres, in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. About 82,000 are already protected by a conservation easement and Bacon said he would place the remaining 90,000 acres into a conservation easement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife if a plan to create the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area advances.

“This effort, if it moves forward, will help to ensure that this magnificent view and wildlife habitat remains undisturbed forever,” the hedge fund manager told The Denver Post ( ). “In the long run, it should help tourism and, therefore, the local economy and help preserve the heritage of the area.”

The easement would be one of the largest ever obtained by the federal government.

Bacon’s land includes three 14,000-foot peaks — Mount Lindsey and Blanca and Little Bear peaks — in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It’s one of relatively few mountain ranges in the United States that that still allow unobstructed migration by wildlife.

Bacon fought to keep Xcel Energy and the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association from running solar-transmission power lines across his property. State regulators approved the plan but Xcel announced last fall that it wouldn’t build the lines because not enough solar power would be produced in the San Luis Valley.

There are two other large ranches in the area, including one owned by billionaire Ted Turner.

Salazar, who made the announcement from Fort Garland, has spoken with Turner, too, but no proposals are in the works.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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