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Jefferson County approves 187-acre expansion of White Ranch Park

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By Vicky Gits

The Jefferson County commissioners recently approved a proposal to buy 187 acres for $1,045,408 to be maintained as undeveloped open space west of White Ranch Park.

The commissioners approved the purchase, which was negotiated by Open Space staff, in the consent agenda at a meeting in March.

The property consists of 187 acres contiguous to White Ranch Park on the east. The Open Space Division recommended the purchase on grounds it would protect a large tract of wildlife habitat very close to other Open Space properties. It will also provide a half-mile-wide buffer between White Ranch Park and the residential development to the west.

It will preserve the open, natural scenic values and a critical segment of Ralston Creek, one of the least-developed stream corridors in Jefferson County. All of the funds will be paid from Open Space bond funds.

The resolution recommending purchase was first approved by the Open Space Advisory Committee in September 2010. The county commissioners make the final decision on acquisitions.

In other action at its regular meeting March 3, Open Space staff recommended taking a second look at land southwest of Lockheed Martin.

Open Space staff recommended going forward with negotiations on a deal it had previously rejected because of the parcel’s odd shape, but it now looks attractive in connection with a large square tract of state land.

The three properties totaling 1,500 acres are 3 miles south of Deer Creek Canyon Park and adjacent to the Waterton Canyon Recreation Area managed by Denver Water.

The parcels consist of 775, 21 and 715 acres. Acquisition as open space would help preserve unbroken wildlife habitat in close proximity to other protected lands, Natural Heritage Conservation Site values and the possibility of future trail connections in Waterton Canyon Recreation Area.

Open Space staff recommended the acquisitions, and the advisory committee approved going forward with negotiations to acquire these properties, contingent on acquiring all three. Financial details were not available.

The landowners (Chaparral LLC and Wirth) first proposed the deal, which was rejected for its long and narrow configuration. Later, a staff review determined if the adjoining state land acreage of 715 acres could be preserved the properties would make an attractive package.

Open Space staff also recommended and the committee approved proceeding with negotiations for 622 acres for sale by landowners Murva Ann and Duane Rodgers and the Booth Land and Cattle Co.

The area includes a large wildlife corridor and buffers important wildlife habitat along Ralston Creek, in the staff's opinion. There are potential trail connections between Coal Creek Canyon, White Ranch and Golden Gate Canyon state parks. 

 

Contact Vicky Gits at 303-350-1042 or e-mail vicky@evergreenco.com.