The Ben Delatour Scout Ranch, a 3,200-acre property located 40 miles northwest of Fort Collins, has received permanent protection through a conservation easement. The Longs Peak Council of the Boy Scouts of America and The Conservation Fund announced the agreement Tuesday.
The easement secures one of the last, large forested properties in the Cache la Poudre watershed.
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The purchase of the easement is being funded through both federal and state agencies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Legacy Program provided $4 million, while Great Outdoors Colorado provided an additional $1.5 million in state lottery proceeds to complete the purchase.
In Colorado, the Forest Legacy Grant Program is administered cooperatively by the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service to help protect environmentally sensitive forest lands.
The agreement between the council and the forest service, negotiated by The Conservation Fund in Boulder, protects the scout ranch from any future development. The proceeds from the sale of the easement will be placed in the council’s endowment fund as a long-term investment, according to Longs Peak Council President Frank R. Ramirez.
“I’m proud to see the Forest Legacy Program put into practice for a worthy cause right here in Colorado,” Colorado Sen. Mark Udall said. “By permanently protecting an important tract of forest habitat, we can also preserve the multiple uses the community derives from it and foster the next generation of stewards for our natural resources.”
Udall was joined in his efforts to secure federal funding by Sen. Michael Bennet and former Fourth District Congresswoman Betsy Markey.
“The Ben Delatour Scout Ranch is a great example of how local communities and economies can benefit from open space and the protection of the ranch is a credit to the Forest Legacy Program,” Bennet said. “I applaud the dedication of the Boy Scouts, and I am glad we were successful in working together to make this happen.”
Established in 1958, the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch is used by boys’ and girls’ organizations for a wide variety of programs designed to develop respect for the natural environment and leadership and survival skills. The ranch also serves as a training site for firefighters and emergency responders from across the state as well as an outdoor classroom for forestry students at Colorado universities. It provides 150 jobs each season.
The Forest Legacy Program has protected more than 12,000 acres in Colorado since 2000, utilizing $10.5 million in Forest Legacy funds matched by $9.3 million primarily from GOCO and landowner donations. Since 1992, the program has invested more than $540 million in federal funds across the country to protect 2.2 million acres valued at more than $1 billion.