Summit Land Conservancy protects acreage adjacent to Round Valley | ParkRecord.com

Summit Land Conservancy protects acreage adjacent to Round Valley

Summit Land Conservancy secured two conservation easements last week to preserve Old Ranch Hills, a 50-acre parcel located west of Round Valley and north of Risner Ridge and Quarry Mountain. The land deal also protects an additional 10-acre parcel.

Summit Land Conservancy secured two conservation easements last week to protect 60 acres adjacent to Round Valley as open space.

The land deal preserves Old Ranch Hills, a 50-acre parcel located west of Round Valley and north of Risner Ridge and Quarry Mountain, according to a press release. An unidentified landowner also made an additional 10-acre easement donation to help the purchase come to fruition.

Cheryl Fox, executive director of Summit Land Conservancy, said the land trust has wanted to expand the open space next to Round Valley for "a long time." There was a collection of 10-acre parcels that were owned individually, and after landowners began having access issues, Summit Land Conservancy entered into discussions about how to preserve the area. But, Fox said there wasn't an appetite to buy 10-acre lots.

"Now we have a sizeable chunk of land that we can protect," Fox said.

Summit Land Conservancy began talking about how to secure a conservation easement for the property next to Round Valley about five years ago, Fox said. She added, "Conservation is not as simple as just putting up a 'For Sale' sign so it does take a little bit of additional time."

"I think because this transaction also involved the landowner, that was the county at the time and now it's the city, as well as the private partnership, we wanted to be careful," she said. "And that makes sense for every easement. We don't want to be hasty or sloppy."

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Summit County Council Chair Chris Robinson negotiated a purchase of the Old Ranch Hills property from the landowners about three years ago. He said four different families sued the county for approval to construct a 5,500-foot driveway and, instead, the county negotiated the purchase of the 50 acres.

"At the time, a landowner was willing to donate 10 acres and discussed putting an easement on it, but I encouraged the county not to do it," he said.

When Park City was working toward the purchase of the Bonanza Flat acreage, the County Council agreed to contribute a $2 million grant, in addition to several land transfers. Under the agreement, City Hall conveyed all interests in the Triangle Parcel, located east of the U.S. 40 and Interstate 80 interchange, and Quarry Mountain to the county, in exchange for the Old Ranch Hills property. City Hall has managed it ever since.

"Park City is excited to partner once again with Summit Land Conservancy and Summit County in the preservation of these 60 acres," Heinrich Deters, Park City Trails and Open Space program manager, said in the press release. "The acquisition brings the totality of the Round Valley Open Space acreage to almost 2,200 acres. This collection of acreage improves recreational opportunities for our community and allows wildlife to roam."

The Summit Land Conservancy has a total of 924 acres under conservation easements in Round Valley, including Risner Ridge and the Osguthorpe Round Valley Ranch. Fox said the addition of Old Ranch Hills is critical for preserving a perennial stream located on the property.

"This property does not have trails on it at the moment, but there is probably the potential for trails in the future," she said. "One of the most important things we are protecting is the perennial wetland and we want to keep trails away from that. The other thing we are protecting is the viewshed."

Fox said the transaction was just "another great example of the city and the county's commitment to protecting open space." She said it was the fifth conservation easement the land trust has secured in 2017.

"It's been a big year, and that doesn't include Bonanza Flat or the Osguthorpe transaction that we are entrenched in right now," she said. "We have four or five more federally funded projects in eastern Summit County, but most of these are made possible with member's donations."

The willingness of landowners to partner with Summit Land Conservancy is indicative of the organization's longstanding reputation in the region and in the county, Fox said.

"When we have the opportunity to save something and when a landowner says, 'Yes let's go ahead and save this,' and when the stars line, up you have to jump on it," she said. "If we are patient and we are diligent, we can really do some great conservations. We would be nowhere without the landowners. If the landowners are willing to go through the extra steps that conservation requires, we are always incredibly grateful for those families that are willing to do that."

Summit Land Conservancy currently holds 32 permanent conservation easements on more than 5,000 acres of open space, according to the press release. It protects large swaths of Round Valley, Quarry Mountain, Empire Canyon, and the McPolin Farmlands, as well as farms and ranches along the Weber River. The Conservancy is currently also working to save the Osguthorpe Farm on Old Ranch Road.