Larimer County Commissioners approved a resolution to acquire a conservative easement on a stretch of the Quarter Circle Lazy H Ranch during their Housekeeping Meeting Tuesday morning.
The cost of the easement for the parcel of land near Livermore in the northwest part of the county would total $1.2 million with the help of funding partners the Fort Collins Department of Natural Areas and Great Outdoors Colorado, the county share totaling $555,832.50.
The ranch is west of Livermore on Red Feather Lakes Road and would connect the Cherokee State Wildlife Refuge and state trust lands.
The new conservation easement also complements other countywide programs, including supporting ecosystems that provide key habitat for a variety of wildlife, including the Preble Meadows Jumping Mouse, in endangered at the federal level.
The mouse species is found only along the Colorado Front Range and part of southern Wyoming. Nearby Lone Pine Creek has been designated critical habitat for the species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, according to Meegan Flenniken of the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources.
It would also help meet the county’s climate action goals, Flenniken said.
The designated area includes 428 acres of grasslands and low hills along West County Road 74E or Red Feather Lakes Road, according to a memo provided to the County Board of Commissioners.
“This is a project we’ve had in the works for over two years now, and it’s great that we have the partnerships that are part of the project as well as the enthusiastic recommendation of the Open Lands Board moving forward. with that,” said Justin Core, senior lands officer with the Larimer County Departments of Natural Resources and Engineering.
The area is currently used for grazing and hay production, and agricultural uses will continue under the easement, according to the county. The ranch is owned by Janeth and Chris Hansen and has been in the Hansen family for many decades.
With a conservation easement, the land will remain in the Hansen family and the 428 acres will be protected from development.