Selected Case Studies of Conservation Projects-Prepared by Colorado Open Lands
Highline Farm, Arapahoe County, 19 acres
Partners: The Duke Family and Trust for Public Land, with funding from City of Greenwood Village, Arapahoe County and Great Outdoors Colorado
Conservation Values: The property, one of the last two undeveloped parcels of its size in the area, consists of open meadows and a small wetland that provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species, primarily small mammals and birds. The property also serves as valuable open space for the scenic views of the Rocky Mountains it provides to recreationists along the Highline Trail, which forms the eastern boundary of the property. The Trail serves as a tremendous amenity for residents of not only Greenwood Village but the greater Denver metro area for walking, jogging, biking, and horseback riding.
The easement is a part of the County’s South Platte Greenway Legacy Project. The property, which has been owned by the Duke family since 1952, lies a few miles south of another Colorado Open Lands easement in Cherry Hills Village and the Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve, which is 55 acres of protected open space owned by the City of Greenwood Village.
Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve, Arapahoe County, 4 acres
Partners: Greenwood Village, Arapahoe County, GOCO
Conservation Values: The Marjorie Perry Nature Preserve is fifty five acres of extraordinary natural beauty at the heart of Denver’s Southern metro area. The preserve is a treasured resource for those who walk, jog, bike and ride horses through stands of cottonwood trees, past ponds, wetlands and grasslands, enjoying wonderful views of the Front Range.
As part of the Trust for Public Lands’ (TPL) long-term commitment to provide access to nature for metro area residents, TPL worked with the City of Greenwood Village, the Greenwood Village Foundation, Arapahoe County, and Great Outdoors Colorado to purchase four acres of additional land and place a conservation easement on the preserve. This project was funded through:
- $1 million appropriation from the City of Greenwood Village;
- $250,000 from Arapahoe County Open Space;
- $250,000 from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO);
- $766,750 in private fundraising; and
- $2.75 million in landowner donations.
Quincy Farms Cherry Hills Village
(Catherine Anderson Property), Arapahoe County, 18 acres
Partners: Catherine Anderson, The Conservation Fund
Conservation Values: A long-time supporter of Colorado Open Lands, Catherine Anderson decided that it was time to protect an important urban gem for future generations. Eighteen acres is a lot in the city, and Anderson’s property is packed with history, wildlife habitat, public recreational opportunities, and scenic importance.
For starters, the house and farm buildings on the property are listed under the National Register of Historic Places as Hopkins Farm. The Highline Canal Trail, a highly popular public-use trail for pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians, runs through the property. Luckily, you don’t have to walk the Highline Canal to see the property, since it is also visible from Quincy Avenue. The Anderson property also offers significant wildlife habitat with wetlands, a pond, and acres of natural areas that offer feeding and nesting areas to waterfowl such as the Hooded Merganser, as well as shorebirds, hawks and neo-tropical migrants.
Weil – East, Elbert County, 44 acres
Partners: Carl Weil
Conservation Values: Situated in the unique Black Forest but comprised of nearly all native grassland, Carl Weil’s land contains many native grass species, including little bluestem, big bluestem, green needle grass, needle and thread, prairie sand reed, blue grama, and several other native grasses. This stand has significance since most of the grasslands in the Black Forest were plowed for cropland, or otherwise converted to European pasture grasses.
Furthermore, four Colorado Natural Heritage Program-tracked butterfly species may potentially occur on this land. This is because portions of the habitats for all four species are found on the property and two of their host plants, little bluestem and big bluestem, are specifically found on this land.
Weil’s third donation culminates protection of his entire 120 acres, bringing him peace of mind for the future of this biologically unique land, bolstering his Wilderness Medicine School operations, and enhancing the scenic views of his community forever.
Weil Amended and Restated, Elbert County, 35 acres (76 total acres protected)
Partners: Fore-Weil LLC
Conservation Values: After running Wilderness Medicine Outfitters on his property for 35 years, Carl Weil decided it was time to permanently protect the land he relies upon for his highly successful school. Following his first conservation easement donation in 2005, Weil added acreage to the existing easement, further buffering Gold Creek, enhancing wildlife habitat and ensuring the land’s scenic beauty.
Part of a distinctive high uplift plateau, Weil’s property offers unique refuge for both plants and wildlife found only in lower plains or higher mountain locations. Gold Creek wends its way through a corner of the property, its banks scattered with plains cottonwoods, coyote willow, and other trees and shrubs, along with associated wetlands vegetated with cattails, bulrushes, and rushes.
Elsewhere on the land is a ponderosa pine forest and a small native grassland. The land is further defined by rolling hills of short-grass prairie that support a diverse assemblage of plants including over 30 medicinal plants and provide food, shelter, breeding ground, and migration corridors for nesting birds, raptors, mammals and amphibians.
Camp Rollandet, Denver County, 7 acres
Partners: City and County of Denver and Camp Fire Girls USA with funding from Great Outdoors Colorado
Conservation Values: After extensive negotiations and general worrying, the City and County of Denver successfully negotiated the purchase of this historic property owned by Camp Fire Girls USA. A $450,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) made the purchase possible for Denver, which intends to continue the property’s use for environmental education along with its historic name. Along with the grant from GOCO came a requirement to donate a conservation easement to ensure perpetual protection of the land.
Located along Sheridan Boulevard, a heavily used thoroughfare, these seven acres contain an enclave of upland prairie open space and wooded areas within a heavily urbanized area. A wooded ravine on the Property serves as natural habitat and a corridor for several small mammals and birds including fox, deer, rabbits, raccoons, and coyote. Protection of the property now provides an opportunity to preserve and restore wildlife habitat and native plant biodiversity.
Public access to the property will be permitted but controlled to assure that passive recreational and educational uses are low impact. Programs and activities will be conducted in a manner to preserve and protect the natural conditions on the property and to showcase a sustainable eco-system within an urban setting.
Heine Wildlife Sanctuary, Jefferson County, 3.7 acres
Partners: Karin Heine
Conservation Values: Karin Heine put her money where her heart is, buying a heavily wooded piece of land and turning it over to the critters living there. After five years of planting berries, trees, and shrubs, Heine’s sanctuary nourishes everything from butterflies and bluebirds to foxes and deer.
But it will never accommodate the 16 houses that could have been built on the site. Classes from Alpine Valley School and other schools in the area tour the sanctuary and the local Girl Scouts and neighborhood kids are regular contributors to the welfare of the site.
Heron Pond, Denver County, 21.07 acres
Partners: Colorado Open Lands and the City and County of Denver
Conservation Values: Heron Pond, currently containing environmentally toxic materials, is in the process of being remediated by the City. Once finished, the property will provide valuable urban open space along the South Platte River.
A wildlife viewing area will be provided and visitors will find educational information about the ecology of the South Platte River floodplain ecosystem. The City is also restoring the wetland, riparian, and upland communities on the property. Once completed, the property will contain open space, scenic, wildlife habitat, and passive recreational values for residents and visitors of Denver.
Indian Hills, Jefferson County, 3 acres
Partners: The landowners
Conservation Values: In addition to a resident population of owls, Indian Hills provides important wildlife habitat for mule deer, elk, black bear, mountain lion, cottontail and coyote, and serves as habitat for several species of hawks.
In the family for 26 years, the couple that own the land have had a lifelong love of the outdoors, but have also watched the land around them develop over the years. Wishing to see it remain open and forever protected from development, they considered their options and ultimately decided to donate a conservation easement to Colorado Open Lands.