The Canyonlands Research Center, located at the Redd Family’s Dugout Ranch, monitors the environmental effects of climate change. [Photo courtesy Canyonlands Research Center]

“Heidi is this lovely, petite woman who is tough as nails, the epitome of an old cow-woman,” Victoria Fugit, Moab Museum’s event coordinator, said of Heidi Redd, former owner of Dugout Ranch.

Fugit said she reached out to The Nature Conservancy’s Canyonlands Regional Director Sue Bellagamba and asked her to bring Heidi Redd with her to talk about the ranch and the conservancy’s work there.

The two will talk about the longstanding collaboration between the Redd family and the Nature Conservancy that resulted in the land being protected forever from subdivision and development. The presentation on Oct. 8 at Moab Museum (118 E. Center St.) will include a discussion of the ranch’s history and a vision for the land’s future. The event is part of the “Tuesdays at the Museum” series of educational talks.

Located near the entrance of the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, the Dugout Ranch is a biologically rich area that includes canyon bottoms, ancestral Puebloan rock art and dwellings – including the well-known Newspaper Rock panel. The ranch also includes a critical habitat for endangered species plus 42 miles of riparian area, Bellagamba said.

“Heidi came to us because she wanted to make sure the land could remain in ranching and asked how the Nature Conservancy could help,” Bellagamba said.

In 1997, the conservancy purchased the 5,200-acre Dugout Ranch from Heidi and her family. The conservancy leased grazing rights to the land back to Heidi, where she continued to run the Indian Creek Cattle Company until her retirement three years ago. Her son, Matt Redd, now manages the cattle for the conservancy.

In 2009, the Conservancy opened the Canyonlands Research Center on the property to study climate science and sustainable land use. The research center is a collaboration between the Nature Conservancy, the Redd family, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, Utah State University, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Redd, who has lived on the land for 53 years, said she became interested in participating in scientific studies while working on the ranch.

“When I was cowboying, I’d see scientific study plots of BLM and forest service, and I’d never know the outcome of those studies,” Redd said. “I was trying to figure out how ranchers interested in the landscape could read the studies.”

Now, college students and other researchers visit the Canyonlands Research Center each year to monitor cottonwood trees, soils, grasses, birds and the environment as the climate gradually changes. The ranch is also studying a new breed of cattle from Mexico – smaller animals that might use the land more sustainably.

Bellagamba has worked with the conservancy for more than 25 years to protect lands and waters of southeastern Utah. She’s currently working to protect flows in the Upper Colorado River Basin and oversees the Canyonlands Research Center projects at the Redd family’s Dugout Ranch.

The Moab Museum’s event coordinator Victoria Fugit founded “Tuesdays at the Museum” to offer interesting presentations to the community while regular museum hours remain closed due to ongoing renovation work.