Regional Partnership Conserves Future Open Space in Larimer County

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With approval by the Fort Collins and Loveland city councils and Larimer County Board of County Commissioners, the intergovernmental agreement is finalized for the regional partnership to conserve Heaven’s Door Ranch, a future 1,547-acre open space at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon along Highway 34.

This step allows partnership funds to be distributed towards the Heaven’s Door Ranch purchase, as well as identifying the cities of Loveland and Fort Collins as co-holders of the conservation easement on the property. The City of Fort Collins is providing $750,000 towards the acquisition, while the City of Loveland is providing $500,000 towards the land purchase.

The acquisition is of regional significance as it provides a considerable buffer to other conserved lands, protects the hogbacks and foothills backdrop south of the Big Thompson Canyon, possesses diverse wildlife habitats, and offers future public access opportunities.

“As our communities grow, it is vitally important our agencies continue to work together to acquire lands with the largest conservation impact and greatest public benefit in our region,” said Katie Donahue, Director, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department.“ This project is a great example of how we will continue to invest funds with our partners towards protecting a connected fabric of conserved public lands.”

“The Big Thompson Canyon is a gateway to our community. Protecting this very important area for wildlife and appropriate nature-based access is imperative to the health of our natural world while meeting the needs of a growing community,” said Marilyn Hilgenberg, Open Lands and Trails Manager, City of Loveland.

“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.

Partnership on Heaven’s Door Ranch follows several other regional land conservation projects within Larimer County over the past year. Notable examples include fee-title acquisitions of Dakota Ridge Natural Area, the Buckhorn Addition to Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, and conservation easements on the Quarter Circle Lazy H Ranch and Rockin’ K Diamond Ranch.

The Larimer County Board of County Commissioners provided unanimous approval to purchase and conserve Heaven’s Door Ranch in September. The cost of acquisition of the property is $9 million. The county may 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.

Funding from citizen ballot initiatives, including the Help Preserve Open Space (HPOS) and Open Space Yes! 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.

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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