Historic Colorado Dairy Preserved

BRIGHTON, Colo. – Today, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation organization, joined Adams County and the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund (GOCO) to announce Adams County’s purchase of a conservation easement over 245 acres of an historic farm near Brighton known as McIntosh Dairy. The easement protects continued agricultural operations on the farm, while also conserving important wildlife habitat along the South Platte River and preserving the land forever as an open space and scenic buffer between the rapidly developing communities of the northeast Denver metropolitan area.

Located on the west bank of the South Platte River, the farm was identified by Adams County as a key conservation property in the county’s South Platte River Heritage Corridor Plan (SPRHCP), completed in 1997. The South Platte River Corridor’s outstanding natural values, coupled with significant growth pressures from Denver to the south, Thornton to the west, and Brighton to the east, has made conservation of open space and farms along the South Platte River a high priority for the county. The McIntosh Dairy ranks among the leading properties considered for protection because it exhibits multiple conservation values. The farm is the first dairy to be conserved in Colorado and is the first large property to be protected using funds from Adams County’s open space sales tax fund, which TPL helped the county create in 1999.

Voter approval of the sales tax measure in November 1999 culminated several years of effort by Adams County citizens and government leaders to develop an open space protection strategy. A similar ballot measure had failed in 1997, but in 1999, TPL helped Adams County poll voters, design a ballot measure, and conduct a successful campaign for a 2/10-cent sales tax increase. The voters approved the 1999 measure by a 60 percent margin. The funding mechanism, which is scheduled to sunset in 2006, generates about $5.5 million per year to conserve agricultural and natural lands and to create parks.

The SPRHCP sets forth the county’s ambitious vision to protect working landscapes, open space, and wildlife habitat, while developing trails along the South Platte River and integrating these conservation objectives with gravel pit reclamation efforts.

Following passage of the open space funding measure in 1999, TPL teamed up with the county again to submit a Legacy Grant request to GOCO which resulted in a $2 million award for the SPRHCP. With a plan in place and funding secured, the county sought TPL’s conservation real estate transaction expertise to secure an easement on the McIntosh Farm. TPL negotiated the purchase of the easement with the McIntosh family through an agreement that accommodates their long-term financial and ownership needs. At the same time, TPL was able to structure the transaction with the McIntosh family to ensure that public dollars are being leveraged with a significant and generous partial donation of the property’s value from the family. Finally, TPL has been able to bring its own cash to the closing table to ensure timely completion of this complex transaction. TPL will recoup these costs later by pursuing additional grants in partnership with the County.

“This project contains many great stories and one of the best is about the wonderful family legacy we have all succeeded to protect here,” said TPL project manager Woody Beardsley. “The McIntosh family has a deep conservation ethic. Ken McIntosh reflects this ethic daily in his business, his commitment to improving the wildlife habitat on the property, and his vision to see this property conserved forever and passed down intact to future generations of McIntoshes. This successful conservation project could not have happened without Ken’s vision and without his admirable charity.”

Owned and run by the McIntosh family since 1906, the historic farm includes a fully automated state-of-the-art dairy facility and feeding operation that currently milks 900 cows three times a day and has the functional capacity to milk up to as many as 1,200 cows. The property contains cottonwood and willow bottomlands along the South Platte River, providing excellent habitat for a variety of plant and animal species including nesting habitat for birds of prey and wild turkeys. The combination of riparian and upland crop areas offers very productive deer and elk habitat as well. In addition to the many wildlife benefits, the farm helps preserve the cultural and scenic heritage for a traditionally agricultural community that is rapidly changing.

The McIntosh Dairy is the second Adams County property protected under TPL’s Denver Metropolitan Area Program (DMAP). DMAP is funded in part by GOCO and serves the six-county Denver metropolitan area. Through the strategic protection of parks and open space, TPL will be advancing a “Greenprint Vision” for the Denver metropolitan area that conserves land as a way to guide growth, protect air and water, and improve the quality of life for area residents.

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. In Colorado, TPL has helped to protect more than 55,000 acres of land. Working with private landowners, community groups and public agencies, TPL has successfully completed 80 transactions in the state. In December the Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information please visit www.tpl.org.