Flying Diamond Ranch completes its conservation goals
July 1, 2015
Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize the expenditure of $625,000 in dedicated tax revenues to the purchase of a conservation easement on Flying Diamond Ranch that is expected to preserve traditional agricultural land practices while conserving prime wildlife habitat. The 293-acre ranch parcel straddles the scenic view corridor along Colorado Highway 131 between Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek.
The conservation easement will be managed by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and represents the fifth and final phase of conservation easements on the ranch owned by the family of John and Tammy Adams.
"The Adams family is proud to participate in the conservation of open space that has long been a vision of the residents of Routt County. In the 37 years we have owned the ranch, our family has developed a deep appreciation and love of the land and are grateful for its natural beauty," Tammy Adams was quoted saying in a prepared statement.
The market appraisal of the acreage in the newest easement on Flying Diamond valued the land at more than $3.5 million. The $625,000 from Routt County's voter-approved "purchase of development right," program will be paired with $575,000 provided from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the conservation program funded by lottery proceeds. The Adams family is donating the balance of more than $2.3 million.
The PDR program is funded by a 1.5-mill property tax renewed by voters in 2006, nine years after the program first was approved for a 10-year period. The 2006 renewal is good for an additional 20 years.
Overseen by a community board, the program uses property tax revenues to provide a local match to enable the conservation easements, which allow landowners to take cash out of the land and access tax benefits in exchange for removing the development potential from their land in perpetuity.
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Flying Diamond Ranch is a year-round cattle operation occupying the northern ridges of Thorpe Mountain, where conserved land is visible to motorists traveling a two-mile stretch of the highway. It provides both summer and winter range for elk and habitat for bear, mountain lion, bobcat and mule deer, according to the Elk Foundation.
"The Adams family has given an incredible gift to Routt County and its visitors by their continuing commitment to elk, elk country and conservation," Blake Henning, vice president of lands and conservation for the RMEF, was quoted saying. "This final phase permanently protects the agricultural, scenic, wildlife and habitat values of the highly visible ranch lands."
The RMEF reports spending more than $178,000 to conserve or enhance more than 26,000 acres here since 1988. Across Colorado, RMEF and its partners have completed 637 conservation and hunting heritage projects with a combined value of $154 million.