The $1.2 million renovation of an abandoned barn in Colorado’s Renovo Farms has sparked outrage from some local residents and animal advocates.
Renovo is owned by the family of a retired rancher and his son, who built the barn from scratch after the rancher’s death in 2016.
The family’s former farm has been a public nuisance for decades, and they’ve been forced to shut down many of their animals.
But the family is making an effort to reopen the barn to the public, including the first of their three animal rehabilitation facilities in the country.
In addition to the renovation, they’re expanding a greenhouse to hold additional animals and adding a new outdoor exhibit area.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to make this facility more accessible for the public,” said Joe Wiedenmeier, Renovo’s director of animal care and welfare.
“I think we’re doing the best we can.”
Renovo officials are not giving up the barn, but they’re doing a lot of work to improve conditions.
“It’s one of those barns that’s been abandoned for years,” said Jim Stinson, who has lived on the property for almost 20 years.
“This is a beautiful barn that was abandoned for decades and years.”
The barns’ past owners left behind a large amount of the property, which was once a pasture and dairy farm.
The rancher died in 2016 and his sons purchased the land in 2018.
The brothers and their father moved to Colorado to work cattle and then bought the farm in 2019.
The farm was built in the early 1900s, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
The ranch was abandoned in 1980 after ranchers started cutting down trees to build roads and turn off roads into the ranch.
The first cows on the land lived there for almost a decade.
They were moved to the nearby ranch by the ranchers and lived there until they were sold to an animal care facility.
The Stinson family, however, did not get their hands on the barns.
The former rancher was an avid hunter and had lived there from the 1940s until he passed away in 2016, according the Colorado Farm Bureau.
The previous owners told the AP they were concerned about the barn being used for livestock.
In 2015, they sold the barn for $1 million to an organization that is trying to build a sanctuary for animals in the area.
The sanctuary will house animals at the animal care center and a new facility will house them at a rehabilitation center.
Renova has been working with the local nonprofit to create the facility and the barn.
Stinson said that while they have been working on the rehabilitation of the barn since 2015, the ranch has not been a problem since.
“There have been no problems with it,” he said.
“Every year that passes, we’re getting new animals, and we’re seeing the new animals come back.”
The farm’s renovation has become an ongoing issue for animal advocates in the community.
“In some ways, this barn renovation is not the most important thing we’re talking about here, but it’s one thing we are fighting,” Stinson told the Associated Press.
“People in this community are very passionate about this barn and want it back.”
After the barn was bought, a woman who lives on the farm complained about the noise and the smell coming from the barn while driving by, but Stinson defended the barn’s operation.
“You can smell it, but the animals have been cleaned up and have been fed,” he told the newspaper.
The barn has also been a breeding ground for barn-fighting dogs, which were given special treatment at the rehabilitation facility.
“They’re bred here in the barn,” he explained.
“The dogs are fed the right food, they get good nutrition, and then they come out and fight and eat the animals.”
The animal welfare organization that operates the facility said it is not working to rehabilitate any of the animals currently living in the facility, including a female dog named Jodi.
“Unfortunately, because of the lack of education and the lack in the training of the animal staff and the facility staff on how to deal with dogs, the dogs will not be trained to recognize their owners,” the organization said in a statement.