The Harringtons won't be long-forgotten, however. Before leaving, they'll be handing over their blueprint to educators and hand-picked land-trust professionals who will continue to foster their ranching heritage endeavors.
Tom's six-year stint as the manager of Ralph Lauren's Double RL ranch on Dallas Divide, which ended in October, has prepared him well for his anticipated responsibilities on two large ranch tracts, comprising 160,000 acres and situated 150 miles apart between Great Falls and Helena.
Tom sees this relocation to the Dearborn and N Bar ranches in Wolf Creek and Grass Range as a "great steppingstone and challenging experience."
The two ranches are owned by businessman and software designer Tom Siebel, whom Ginny says is "so philanthropic and conservation minded" with regard to ranchlands.
The notion of "preservationist" of ranchlands has become synonymous with the name Ginny Harrington: She is a fourth-generation rancher, a prime mover of the Ranching History Museum project and former director of the Ouray County Historical Society.
Ginny's efforts to create a ranch museum in Ouray County will continue long distance as well.
In her absence, the museum will attempt to germinate under the leadership of Ouray County Ranching History Museum project president Tim Force and vice president Daris Jutten.
Ginny also noted that a fourth volume on the county's ranching history is in the planning stages. It will include the Hudsons, Jutten and the Croonenbergs.
According to Ginny, Jack Rairden, who volunteered to work on the Ranching History Museum project, has completed some history stories, and "I'm also going to see Mario Zadra, age 90, who helped with Marie's story (in Volume II). Francis Talbert just gave me her story on an old fashioned typewriter."
Talbert's family has roots in ranching, having land in Pleasant Valley.
Ginny expressed her appreciation to the teachers at Ridgway School for working on the ranching history project, including the compiling of the histories, scanning photos, and for their monetary contributions and volunteer time. She believes that if the next generation of students is provided the historical perspective by their teachers, it will strengthen the prospects for protecting ranching as an industry in the county.
Prior to making the decision to move north, Ginny also recently founded the Northern San Juans Initiative, which was started in effort to maintain continued viability of a ranching lifestyle in a region currently under unprecedented development pressures.
Ginny's commitment is her bond.
"I'm not going to disappear," she said. "We're not going to lose contact. There are great things to share from both communities."
Ginny will continue to work closely with land-trust institutions, and will be actively involved in the selection and training of her replacement at the Northern San Juans Initiative.
"I'm going to come back to do the training for the Northern San Juans Initiative in late January or early February and can share what I learn from my experiences in Montana," she said.
And, she will be available via telephone and email, and through Chris Herman at the Black Canyon Land Trust (blackcanyonlandtrust.org).
"If there is somebody out there to conserve our working ranches contact Chris there," Ginny said.
While there are only a handful of small ranches in Ouray County protected under conservation easement status at this time, the apparatus that Ginny has been putting into place for a continued viable working ranch option is expected to move forward if a $37,000 Greater Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Trust Fund planning grant applied for by Northern San Juans Initiative is approved.
The GOCO, started in 1992, funds projects that preserve, protect, and enhance Colorado's wildlife, parks, rivers, trails, and open spaces. The GOCO receives 50 percent of Colorado Lottery proceeds, its only source of funding. Legislation enacted in 1998 extended the Colorado Lottery to 2009.
The grant the San Juans Initiative applied for, should it be awarded, will be one of two steps to provide the tools to enhance public awareness of the conservation easement option, and later on, obtain additional funding through fund-raising and matching grants to help ranching heirs afford to continue in ranching.
"We're gearing up," Ginny said. "With the GOCO grant, we'll begin to get our ducks in a row. This phase will enable us to have more public meetings, and inform people about conservation easements, and bring in folks who can be used for professional consulting and planning, but it is not money in their (the ranchers) hands."
The second step will be to apply for a GOCO Legacy Round which would purchase and give back the ranch.
"Those dollars raised through fundraising go to the heirs," Ginny said. "In addition to that, ranch owners can utilize increased tax credits and federal income incentives, both of which go to the family.
"Those who want to stay in ranching can. If a family can't ranch anymore then put a CE (conservation easement) on it. And sell it knowing it can't be developed," Harrington added.
Only at phase two, after a "waterproof" plan is in place, can an effort be made to make conservation easements a reality, "to go for the big money to set this in motion."
Ginny has emphasized, however, that there needs to be more involvement from other members of the community involving this complex subject matter.
"We have to be discerning about everything and be aware of what's happening; it's about past, present and future," she said. "There are economic threats to this ranching community. You have to be an active participant. We have to judge for ourselves."