174-Acre Property Added to the South Platte River Trail

Adams County Parks & Open Space and the Trust for Public Land announced today that they have acquired the 174-acre Willow Bay Property located along the South Platte River. The property includes a 110-acre lake located at the northern terminus of the South Platte River Trail, and its protection culminates more than 30 years of open space preservation along the South Platte River in Adams County.

Adams County purchased the property for $9.1 million, utilizing its own funding, $3 million of Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) funding, and with $100,000 provided by the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District. A reimbursement of $3.7 million is expected through a grant from the State of Colorado’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Trustees later this year. Adams County, The Trust for Public Land, GOCO, and the NRDAR Trustees agreed that creating a new destination on the South Platte River Trail that people can bike, hike, or drive to was very important to them, especially with the exponential population growth in the Denver Metro Area each year.

The Trust for Public Land’s involvement was critical to the project’s success as they negotiated and secured the purchase, working in partnership with Adams County to secure the funding for the acquisition, and managed the transaction through closing.

“It has been an absolute honor to work with Adams County, GOCO, and the NRDAR Trustees to help make this transaction happen,” said Wade Shelton, Trust for Public Land project manager. “Making sure that everyone has a place to enjoy the outdoors is why everyone at The Trust for Public Land works hard each day, and I am really looking forward to watching someone catch their first fish when Willow Bay is open to the public.”

The protection of the Willow Bay Property has been a priority for numerous local and state agencies for more than 25 years, including Adams County Parks & Open Space, the City of Brighton, and the Division of Parks and Wildlife. Acquiring this public space proved to be challenging due to the unique nature of the property and its high dollar value. Ultimately, it took a diverse team of conservation professionals to finally make it a reality.

“This acquisition will provide our residents with the kind of active amenity they can enjoy with their families,” said Eva Henry, Adams County Commissioner. “Adding Willow Bay to the county’s network of parks and trails extends our commitment to improving the overall quality of life for our residents.”

Now that the transaction is complete, Adams County will begin taking the necessary steps to open the property to the public, which will include a formal public planning and design process, slated to begin in 2018, to ensure the restoration of the property and development of the site meet the needs of the local community. The county anticipates the property will be open for fishing, non-motorized boating, swimming, and picnicking, with public parking and bike and pedestrian access via the South Platte River Trail in the coming years – a formal timeline will be developed as part of the planning process.

“GOCO is pleased to be a part of this meaningful project and to invest Colorado Lottery proceeds in efforts that positively impact Coloradans’ quality of life,” said GOCO Executive Director Chris Castilian. “Congratulations to the partners who made the Willow Bay acquisition possible and to the many people who will enjoy this open space and great place for recreation into the future.”