The wait is over. The 2,038-acre Sandstone Ranch, one of the largest and most historic properties in Colorado, is now open for public access.
Hikers, cyclists, and those on horseback will experience spectacular views, expansive hay meadows, red rock formations and wildlife habitat from the 12-mile trail located in the eastern portion of Sandstone Ranch, for non-motorized use only.
The official public access opening follows an extensive planning process that included public input and culminated in the adoption of the Sandstone Ranch Master Plan. This plan provides a vision for the property that allows appropriate public access while conserving the historic ranch operation; wildlife habitat and corridors, as well as the Pike National Forest connectivity; vegetation and other natural resources.
“The Sandstone Ranch acquisition preserved so much more than 2,038 acres of land,” said Roger Partridge, Douglas County Commissioner and Board Chair. “It has preserved the County’s history, heritage, wildlife habitat, as well as other cultural and natural resources.”
The County’s 2017, $18,750,000 acquisition of Sandstone Ranch, located along the foothills between Denver and Colorado Springs, was achieved in part with sales and use tax revenue from the 1994 voter-approved Douglas County Open Space Fund, revenues exclusively dedicated to the protection of open space and as well as for funding County parks.
“Douglas County has consistently been recognized as being the healthiest in America, in part due to our access to open spaces. We are fortunate our citizens support conservation of properties such as these, understanding as they do that this is a quality-of-life investment for present and future generations,” said County Commissioner Lora Thomas.
“We recognize the value of this acquisition to our citizens’ quality of life and we take seriously the responsibility to balance the preservation and protection of the Ranch with the opportunity for public access,” said County Commissioner Abe Laydon.
Additionally, the Sandstone Ranch acquisition benefits from the County’s $6 million funding partnership with the Chatfield Reservoir Mitigation Company (CRMC). The CRMC was formed in 2015 to implement the Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project, that will allow for reliable water storage and enhanced water supplies for users in the South Denver Metro area. The CRMC partnership in the Sandstone Ranch acquisition will provide mitigation for the impact of the Chatfield Reservoir expansion on riparian habitat, wetlands and wildlife. The Douglas Land Conservancy will hold the conservation easement on Sandstone Ranch, and in this role will be responsible for the protection and conservation of the natural character and habitat of Sandstone Ranch in partnership with Douglas County. The County is also in the final process of securing Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) funds.
Now in its 26th year, the Douglas County Open Space Program, including the Sandstone Ranch acquisition, has protected 64,544 acres in Douglas County through a combination of fee purchases and conservation easements, through partnerships with GOCO, Colorado Division of Wildlife and Parks, land trusts, private landowners and others. For every $1 of sales tax funds spent, the County has received $2.79 in partnership funding.