Kids join fundraising effort to save Osguthorpe Farm | ParkRecord.com

Kids join fundraising effort to save Osguthorpe Farm

The Summit Land Conservancy has some unlikely advocates joining in on the land trust's efforts to preserve the Osguthorpe Farm on Old Ranch Road in the Snyderville Basin.

When 7-year-old Tenneson Klein recently saw bulldozers on the property and noticed a real estate sign, he began crying. His mom explained to him the possibility that the land could be sold and, eventually, developed.

"I like seeing that land and I was sad that they were going to take it away," he said. "So I've been walking around with a sign trying to save the heart of the Basin."

In September, the Summit Land Conservancy entered into an agreement with the Osguthorpe family to preserve the property and protect it from development. The land is located adjacent to Willow Creek Park. Summit Land Conservancy secured an $8.8 million federal grant from a Farm Bill program that will be put toward the acquisition, but an additional $3.2 million is needed.

Klein has donated his piggy bank and tooth fairy money toward the purchase of a conservation easement for the 158-acre property. He has encouraged family members in New York and Texas to contribute, and continues to solicit donations whenever his family goes to the grocery store or at the after-school pick-up at Trailside Elementary School.

"If we don't save it, they will pave it," he said.

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Summit Land Conservancy has been scrambling to close the fundraising gap needed to secure the conservation easement. Last month, a $500,000 matching grant was received from Jennifer Speers, an open space and conservation advocate, and more than 250 private citizens have pledged donations.

Klein has joined an unlikely network of Basin residents working to save the property, including several Ranch Place residents who organized a group to help raise awareness about the land deal.

Sharyn Jones, Klein's mom, said Tenneson's dedication has made her realize that the community must come together to make the preservation of the farm happen.

"It makes me happy and hopeful that someone this young understands the importance of open land," she said. "He is just a caring young man and very dedicated. Everywhere we go, he gets that sign out. We really want to do whatever we can to save it from development. The Osguthorpes have been such an important part of this city, and we should do whatever we can to support their efforts."

Klein isn't alone. Laura Tettlebach, a Jeremy Ranch resident, said her daughter, Ashley, 10, heard about the threat to the farm from her friend, whose home is adjacent to the property.

"When my daughter heard about it, she wanted to raise money for it," she said. "Her and her friends are just little philanthropists always wanting to raise money for something."

Ashley Tettlebach and several friends — Alivia Shaw, Arabella Brenkus, Audrey Garringer and Elsa Barratt — spent a recent Friday handing out hot cocoa for donations. Laura Tettlebach said the girls spent nearly two hours making hot cocoa and raising awareness about the farm. Last week, they delivered their earnings to Steve Osguthorpe.

"The girls were all hyper and excited," she said. "I think it meant a lot more that they got to hand it to him and do it for the farm. It definitely made an impression."

Cheryl Fox, executive director of Summit Land Conservancy, said Klein and Tettlebach's work has been "incredibly inspiring" to her.

"We are trying to save this land forever," she said. "Ashley and Tenneson know that, even as children, it matters. That is what keeps me at my desk and picking up the phone. It keeps me going. The kids keep me going."

Fox said they are coming "down to the wire." She said an additional $200,000 is needed before March to keep the deal alive.

"The family is literally buying us time to find the last $3 million," she said. "If we can get that last $200,000, the conservancy will have the opportunity to sit down and make a capital donor plan, and then we will have at least a year to move forward. But, we only have that additional time if we can get that last $200,000."

Fox is hoping stories like Klein and Tettlebach's will inspire others to join the effort. She said she's heard some people say, "Let it be developed." However, Fox said, "That is not what our children are asking of us."

"We have a different opportunity here with a willing landowner and a grant," she said. "I hope people will be inspired and I hope a few people will pick up the phone and call me and say, 'I can help. I want to help.' It's crunch time. Someone can be a real hero."

Klein challenged the "whole county to help me save this land." He vowed to eat broccoli every day in March if the money can be raised.

"I think it can be saved, but it will take a lot of effort," he said.

For more information about the Summit Land Conservancy's efforts to preserve the Osguthorpe Farm, go to wesaveland.org. Questions can also be directed to Cheryl Fox via email at cheryl@wesaveland.org.