$9.4 million deal was years in the making
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A key tract of Front Range land with important habitat for the threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and a remnant stand of tall-grass prairie will be added to the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.
The Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners this approved the first step in a $9.4 million deal to transfer ownership of the majority of the Rocky Flats School Section 16 to the federal government.
“This is a really great day,” said state land board commissioner Michele Bloom. “The months of work invested into this project by all parties involved seem to be coming to fruition and we are very proud to be part of this transaction. This supports the regional goals for wildlife habitat protection, as well as our Board’s fiduciary goals to generate revenue for the schoolchildren of Colorado.”
The funds to support the transfer of this land are coming from multiple sources, largely due to the formation of an unprecedented inter-governmental cooperative agreement between Jefferson County, Boulder County and the City of Boulder. The city of Arvada and other local governments are also likely to participate in the transaction.
A subsequent transaction will exchange aggregate mineral rights from the parcel to the Bureau of Land Management, for which the State Land Board will receive comparably valuable property located elsewhere in the state.
Section 16 has been the focus of years of land protection efforts by local governments and non- governmental parties. After the former Rocky Flats nuclear production plant was converted to a national wildlife refuge under management of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 2007, people and organizations that historically had been at odds redoubled their efforts to explore ways to work together on regional open space protection and transportation issues, including funding the protection of Section 16. The State Land Board’s action today is in many ways a culmination of the hard work of many to put aside differences in the name of regional cooperation.
This parcel of land, which sits on Highway 93 between Highways 72 and 128, is a key migration corridor for elk and deer, and also contains critical habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, a species listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. A portion of the property also contains a remnant stand of xeric tallgrass prairie, widely considered by ecologists to be both rare and of particularly high quality.
Filed under: Colorado, endangered species, Environment, public lands, wildlife Tagged: | Colorado, Environment, Preble's meadow jumping mouse, public lands, Rocky Flats national wildlife refuge, Summit County News, United States Fish and Wildlife Service