The PCC Story
The Dust Bowl of the 1930s, one of the greatest ecological disasters in history, was also the impetus to create the Plains Conservation Center, whose mission is to help insure something like the Dust Bowl never happens again.
Beginning in 1949 as the education center for the West Arapahoe Conservation District demonstrating prudent farming and ranching techniques, the PCC has grown as its audiences have. With vision, hard work, and persistence, the Plains Center staff and uncounted volunteers developed a facility that now shows the short grass prairie in its many guises to rural, suburban and urban visitors.
The 1,000 acre natural area is home to pronghorn, prairie dogs, coyotes and prairie birds with 5 miles of trails for visitors to explore. Wells Crossing, the historic farm, harkens back to homesteading days of sod houses, one-room schools, heritage livestock and heirloom gardens. The Cheyenne Camp offers visitors a glimpse into the former semi-nomadic life of Plains Indians, including 4 stately tipis and their typical furnishings.
As suburban development encroached and the PCC’s ability to meet its mission seemed threatened, a creative, visionary board looked for a win-win solution. Many years of searching, negotiations and perseverance resulted in two PCC sites. In 1997, the 1100 Aurora site was sold to the City of Aurora as perpetual open space. 480 acres were sold for single-family development, a bitter pill to swallow but the revenue enabled the purchase of 8,000 acres along West Bijou Creek, south of Strasburg, CO.
Now known as the PCC - West Bijou Site, it boasts wide-open vistas, craggy ravines, 6 miles of creek and is uninterrupted by public roads. Scientific research projects, a bison herd and a feeling of vastness make this site the “jewel” that Bijou means in French.
As the financial resources allowed, full time staff came on board and more visitors could be welcomed. In 2007, the PCC became a nonprofit organization, independent of the WACD. WACD returned to its roots of helping rural landowners and the PCC looked forward to creating a sustainable organization that champions the short grass prairie. We invite you to join us as we look to the future with lessons we learned from the past and enjoy the natural beauty of the prairie today.