New Addition for South Platte River Greenway (CO)

LITTLETON, CO, 6/17/2009: A key property protecting mountain views and access to a highly popular riverside trail on Colorado’s premier urban greenway has been permanently protected. Part of a multi-year ongoing effort to improve the South Platte River Greenway, the City of Littleton today acquired 5.4 acres near South Santa Fe Drive and Bowles Avenue to be protected as open space accessible to the public.

“This is a beautiful piece of property. Not only does this property abut existing open space, thus providing an even more enhanced experience for trail users, it is one of the few pieces of public land with an incredible view of the river valley and the mountain range. Littleton has definitely added a new jewel to its open space,” said Littleton City Council Member Debbie Brinkman.

The South Platte River flows from the Rocky Mountain foothills, through Denver, to the Great Plains. As the cities around it have grown, the river has become a focal point for local conservation. The Lee Gulch property is a crucial keystone between several adjoining open space properties already owned by the City of Littleton and will provide important connections to the Lee Gulch Trail and the Mary Carter Greenway. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) facilitated the City’s acquisition of the property, the fourth in a continuing series of park and greenway protection projects along the South Platte River.

“The Lee Gulch trail offers so much to joggers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other trail users,” said Hillary Merritt, TPL Project Manager. “It’s part of an interconnected web of trails branching from the South Platte River, and connects to other trails, including the High Line Canal. Protecting this property especially preserves the surrounding wildlife habitat and streamside vegetation, and provides a fabulous view of the Rocky Mountains.”

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) provided a grant of $750,000 in Lottery funds toward the project, and the City of Littleton, which will be the long-term steward of the property, provided an additional $442,000, while the Arapahoe County Open Space Sales and Use Tax provided $105,000.

Littleton conveyed a conservation easement on the property to the South Metro Land Conservancy (SMLC) in order to permanently protect the property’s open space, habitat and recreational values. SMLC works to acquire and preserve open space land in and around Arapahoe County, enhancing quality of life for present and future generations. “SMLC is delighted to hold this conservation easement, which will provide a critical buffer to the South Platte River corridor and the Lee Gulch trail,” said Heather Poe, SMLC President. As an additional buffer and connection to Littleton’s property, South Suburban Parks and Recreation District acquired the adjacent .85 acres providing frontage along South Santa Fe Drive.

Acquisition of the Lee Gulch property is part of the South Platte Greenway Legacy Project, a joint effort of TPL, GOCO, Arapahoe County, the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, SMLC, the cities of Littleton, Englewood, Greenwood Village, Cherry Hills Village and Sheridan, and other special districts.

“Lee Gulch is just one incredible example of the projects that are expanding the urban oasis of the South Platte River, improving wildlife habitat and enhancing connectivity to recreation trails for people in Western Arapahoe County,” said Arapahoe County Commissioner Chair Susan Beckman. “Together we are enhancing the quality of life for our residents and ensuring a legacy for future generations.”

The multi-million dollar, multi-year endeavor is working to preserve key properties along the greenway from Englewood to the Arapahoe County line south of Littleton. In 2007, GOCO awarded a $5.25 million Legacy Grant for the South Platte Legacy Project to preserve crucial open space, enhance connectivity, and conserve and restore habitat along this underserved portion of the river.

Great Outdoors Colorado is the result of a citizens’ initiative passed by Colorado voters in 1992. GOCO receives approximately $53 million annually from Lottery proceeds, and directs those funds to projects that protect and enhance Colorado’s parks, wildlife, trails, rivers and open space.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 45 states. In Colorado, TPL has protected over 100,000 acres of neighborhood parks, greenways, wildlands and working farms and ranches. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations and businesses to achieve our land for people mission.