LOVELAND, Colo. – Earlier this month, Larimer County closed on the purchase of an 800-acre ranch that exists entirely within the boundary of Red Mountain Open Space, which is owned by the County.
“Conserving this key parcel, which boasts significant ecological values, further stitches together lands purchased and conserved in a long-term partnership among Larimer County, Fort Collins and others in the Laramie Foothills,” said Meegan Flenniken, Land Conservation, Planning & Resource Program Manager with Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.
Acquiring the 800-acre enclave ensures Red Mountain can be managed as one continuous landscape. The newly acquired property has significant conservation values, including habitat for deer, pronghorn, elk and other wildlife, known archaeological resources and opportunities for agriculture. Any outdoor recreation, including trails, will be determined during the upcoming management plan update process for Red Mountain and adjacent Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, which is owned by Fort Collins.
In addition, the property contains the iconic Table Mountain, which dominates the scenic landscape enjoyed by all who visit Red Mountain. Larimer County decided to purchase the property when the price dropped and staff learned potential buyers were looking at acquiring the ranch, with the possibility of subdividing it into 35-acre lots for development. This would have meant the possibility of houses on the flanks of the iconic Table Mountain. This important viewshed is now protected, said Gary Buffington, Director of Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.
Larimer County purchased the ranch for $2.25 million, with funding from the County’s Help Preserve Open Spaces sales tax.
“Thank you to the voters who approved the open spaces sales tax,” Flenniken said. “They made it possible to conserve this property, as well as many of our local signature open spaces.”
Both Red Mountain and Soapstone Prairie are part of the larger Laramie Foothills Mountains-to-Plains Project, a partnership among multiple agencies and private landowners that has protected many tens of thousands of acres in northern Larimer County. The acquisition of this 800-acre enclave continues this vision to conserve contiguous lands from the prairies to the foothills to the Rockies, Flenniken said.
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