Land trust still needs $800,000 to preserve Old Ranch Road farm
Cheryl Fox, director of the Summit Land Conservancy, has been in tears the last couple of days.
She said it’s been a “long and sometimes bumpy road” the last two years as the land trust has worked tirelessly to raise $5.5 million to save the prized Osguthorpe Farm on Old Ranch Road in the Snyderville Basin.
But, the organization had less than $1 million to go as of Thursday afternoon. The $800,000 needs to be raised before the end of March to preserve the 158-acre farm, which is adjacent to Willow Creek Park, from development.
“It’s exciting,” Fox said. “We still get gifts every day and I feel like the momentum is kicking in again. But, we really have to kick this final month off in a big way to make it happen.”
Summit Land Conservancy entered into an agreement with the Osguthorpe family in 2017 to purchase a conservation easement for the property. The community has highlighted the Osguthorpe Farm as a potential target for conservation for nearly 20 years.
The property is recognized in the Snyderville Basin General Plan as the last heritage ranch on Old Ranch Road. The general plan defines heritage amenities as: past and present agricultural operations, among others. The plan acknowledges those operations are a significant and important use of the land and encourages protection of those uses through several means, including conservation easements.
Summit Land Conservancy received an $8.8 million federal grant from a Farm Bill program to put toward the acquisition, one of the largest federal contributions toward land conservations ever in Utah.
The Osguthorpe family recently lowered the purchase price to further help the effort to preserve the farm, bringing their total contribution to $3.9 million. Fox said the Osguthorpes are the “real heroes here.” She said the family has never sold their land for development and have “always wanted to preserve their properties for everyone.”
“Steve Osguthorpe said it would break his heart to see houses on that property,” she said. “They (Osguthorpes) have seen how supportive the community has been and how enthusiastic people are about saving the farm. They are so appreciative of everyone’s gift that they were willing to make another significant contribution.
“They recognize it is a legacy to the entire community and the fact that they are willing to lower the purchase price is huge,” she added.
Fox said members of the community sometimes think the land trust has already closed on the deal. But, that isn’t the case.
“There has been so much going on with open space and Treasure Hill that there are sometimes misunderstandings,” she said. “We can’t save everything. But, when we have the opportunity to really make a difference here, we need to take it.”
Fox was confident the remaining $800,000 will be raised in time. She highlighted the more than $4 million that the community has raised so far, on top of the federal grant. She said it shows a desire to “keep this place as beautiful as we found it.”
“A farm starts as the story of a family of hard work and early sunrises,” she said. “The farm nurtures that family for a generation or two and the family nurtures that land. But, usually that story ends with backhoes and pavement and concrete. But, we can write a different story this time. We can save this farm forever and every donation matters and sends a message that: Yes. We want to save this farm.”
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