JAY GRANT THORLEY MOUNTAIN RANCH PROPERTY
Protected in 2008
Location: Washington County, UT
The Jay Grant Thorley Mountain Ranch Property is part of the highlands between Cedar Breaks National Monument and Zion National Park. It is up to 1000 feet higher than adjacent valley bottoms, and is ringed to the west, south, and east by rugged valley walls and cliffs. It is adjacent to O’Neil Gulch and drains into Deep Creek and Crystal Creek, thus forming a part of the North Fork Virgin River Watershed. It is superbly scenic. In addition, habitat on and near the Property is appropriate for Mexican spotted owls and California condors, both are federally-listed endangered species and one of the rarest bird species in the world, which have been documented in the area of the Property. The Property is currently a working sheep and cattle ranch. It has been continuously owned by the Thorley Family for about a century. Utah State University and Southern Utah University have conducted research on the Property for about 20 years, and research is currently ongoing at this site. Dominant vegetation consists of interspersed Gambel oak woodlands, sagebrush steppe, mature aspen forests, and relatively extensive grass patches. Wildlife on the property includes abundant mule deer and elk as well as mountain lions.
This protected property is in one of the few places in the world where California condors can currently be seen in the wild. About 50 condors are known currently to stay in the area during the summer months, foraging and roosting on and around the high plateaus. The Preserve provides relatively open shrub steppe and grassland areas that are ideal for condors to forage. The cliffs and rims around the high plateau provide excellent roosting sites. If the condors eventually nest in Utah, they will pick a cave or crevice in cliffs like those on and adjacent to the property. Conservation of the Jay Grant Thorley Ranch Property allows management choices that help to reduce major threats to condors in the wild.