EDITOR’S NOTES: I asked the county if they were certain this would go through and be approved, as we did not want to publish it unless it was a sure deal. Their representative replied: “Yes, we are 99.9% confident. It was officially approved for purchase today 9/27/22 with the Larimer County Board of County Commissioners and with our Boards last week. It will be considered with our partnering agencies (for their financial portion appropriations) by their City Councils in early November.”
Larimer County purchases 1,547-acre ranch for future open space
Larimer County Department of Natural Resources (LCDNR) is under contract to purchase and conserve the 1,547-acre Heaven’s Door Ranch at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon along Highway 34. This ranch is located within the Blue Mountain Priority Conservation Area of the County’s Open Lands Master Plan, which was developed with extensive public input. The acquisition of this property is of regional significance to the county and municipal partners as it provides a significant buffer to other conserved lands, protects the hogbacks and foothills backdrop south of the Big Thompson Canyon, possesses diverse wildlife habitat, and offers future public access opportunities.
“Conservation of the iconic landscape at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon has been a regional priority for open space for nearly 30 years, and we are so pleased to be able to complete this vision with the acquisition of the Heaven’s Door Ranch,” said Meegan Flenniken, Land Conservation, Planning & Resource Division Manager, Larimer County Natural Resources.
The property provides a significant buffer to existing conserved lands including Sylvan Dale Ranch conservation easements, United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Colorado State Land Board. The land offers excellent wildlife habitat and is dominated by grasslands, foothills, shrublands, and lower montane forest with numerous natural springs present.
“We fully intend this property to join the ranks as one of the crown jewels of the incredible open space system in northern Colorado, protecting significant resource values and providing future public access,” said Daylan Figgs, Director, Larimer County Natural Resources. “Today is an important milestone in that effort.”
Cost of acquisition of the property is $9 million. The county intends to divest approximately 150 acres of the ranch associated with residential improvements that are incompatible with open space objectives. Funds recovered will be used to leverage additional open space acquisition efforts in the county.
Subject to final approval of an intergovernmental agreement, the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department and City of Loveland Natural Areas Program will provide partnership funds as well as co-hold the conservation easement on the property.
Following the closing on the property purchase later this year, Larimer County staff will conduct resource inventories and site evaluations. Future management planning will include community input to inform public access.
Funding from citizen ballot initiatives, including the Help Preserve Open Space (HPOS) sales tax revenues, along with user fees, make open space acquisition and management possible in Larimer County. With the purchase of Heaven’s Door Ranch, Larimer County, with partners, has conserved over 56,500 acres to date.
For more information, please visit larimer.gov/naturalresources.
About Larimer County Department of Natural Resources
The Department of Natural Resources manages Larimer County’s great outdoor places, including open spaces and magnificent water-based recreation areas, and fosters responsible land stewardship through weed management and healthy forest practices. To learn more, visit www.larimer.org/naturalresources.