16,500-acre Roberts Ranch offered as gift to Larimer County

An approximately 16,500-acre property in the Livermore Valley known as the Roberts Ranch may soon be in the hands of Larimer County, a gift from the family that homesteaded the land northwest of Fort Collins in 1874.

It would be the single largest conservation project in the history of Larimer County, an area that includes Steamboat Rock and the Campbell Valley near U.S. Highway 287.

The land is an active cattle ranch owned by 92-year-old Catherine Roberts, though the Nature Conservancy and the City of Fort Collins already hold two conservation easements put in place by Roberts in 2004 and 2006.

Roberts hopes to use the gift to honor her late husband Evan Roberts’ wishes of maintaining the agricultural and historical integrity of the ranch.

She also intends to donate personal items and artifacts for a future, on-site agricultural museum featuring the Roberts family.

The area would be named “The Roberts Ranch,” honoring the conditions of the conservation easements including bans on subdividing the land,and reserving a residential life estate for Roberts’ use.

If the project is approved, Larimer County Open Lands envisions that the area would be used to offer guided agricultural education tours, limited hunting and fishing, and limited public access.

The Roberts Ranch includes rare plants, a vast array of wildlife, riparian areas, and golden eagle nest sites.

It also is home to tipi rings, hearths, points, and buffalo jumps. Additionally, original homestead buildings, portions of the Cherokee/Overland Trail and Signature Rock can be found there.

The Larimer County Open Lands Board will take action on the matter Jan. 3. The County Commissioners will consider the gift at their Jan. 8 meeting.

All funds for the long-term management of this project will come from the quarter-cent Help Preserve Open Spaces initiative.

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