In response to the proposed sale of the Cherry Creek Tree Farm on U.S. 287 just north of Lafayette, I’d like to make a few clarifying points and explain the county’s reasoning for proposing an exchange of property which will help protect additional land along 287.
In the case of the tree farm, the county paid $2.5 million in 2008 to purchase the property and preclude future urban development along that stretch of highway. The county had considered purchasing just a conservation easement on the property, which we valued at $1.6 million, but the sellers would only sell the entire property. The original purchase contract included the explicit approval to sell the fee interest in the property for agricultural use in order to reduce the county’s cost.
With the proposal on the table, the county will protect the property from future urban development ($1.6 million), protect an additional 40-acre parcel from development (valued at $700,000), and receive $200,000 in cash. In other words, the current proposal protects more than 116 acres of land for the same value as the original purchase price of $2.5 million.
We think it is worth noting that in 2008, the farm had over 16,000 trees of significant value on the property. Over the past several years, we have worked to remove those trees by allowing local governments and non-profits to take them for only the price of digging and moving them. Further, the property needs significant work to make it productive and to keep it from being overtaken by weeds. The new owners will need to undertake this improvement on their own.
In our opinion, this transaction expands Boulder County’s preserved land and protects our original investment. The Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee will consider these recommendations on April 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the County Courthouse third flood hearing room.
Director, Boulder County Parks and Open Space