Larimer County acquires 800-acre ranch for $2.25M

FORT COLLINS — Larimer County has purchased an 800-acre ranch within the boundary of Red Mountain Open Space, which is owned by the county.

Larimer County acquired the ranch for $2.25 million, using funds from the county’s Help Preserve Open Spaces sales tax.

“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,” Meegan Flenniken, Land Conservation, Planning & Resource Program manager with the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources, said in a prepared statement.

Acquiring the 800-acre enclave ensures that Red Mountain can be managed as one continuous landscape, according to the press release. The property boasts habitat for deer, pronghorn, elk and other wildlife, known archaeological resources and opportunities for agriculture. Potential outdoor-recreation uses, including trails, will be determined during an 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 Table Mountain, which dominates the scenic landscape. Larimer County decided to purchase the property when the price dropped and staff learned that potential buyers were looking at acquiring the ranch, with the possibility of subdividing it into 35-acre lots for development, the county said. The acquisition negates the possibility of houses flanking  Table Mountain.

“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 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.