Pitkin County, Colorado, has approved agricultural leases on three of its open space parcels. The county’s Open Space and Trails (“OST”) department manages open space lands for “recreational, wildlife, agricultural, scenic and access purposes” and other non-development uses. Lessees serve as stewards to manage the land during their tenancy.
Under the first lease, a hunting and horseback riding company leased the Coke Ovens Open Space at a price of $3,600 per year. The property, which has historically been used as pasture for horses, consists of approximately 26 acres and 1.3 cfs from Beaman Ditch. Under the terms of the agreement, the lessee must use the full water supply. The lease ends at the end of 2019. Leases are occurring on a short-term basis until OST develops a management plan for the property.
The second lease involves a 20-acre parcel known as the Emma Open Space North Lease Area and includes 2 cfs from Home Supply Ditch. One of the last remaining family ranches in the valley is leasing this property for hay production at a price of $7.50/acre per year ($150 per year). The lease terminates at the end of the 2022.
The same family ranch is also leasing the third parcel—25 acres known as the Grace Shehi Open Space. The county acquired this property without water, so the family will use their own water supply to irrigate the land for hay production. They are providing irrigation in lieu of an annual rent for the property. Because this parcel is ideal for Nordic skiing, it will also be used for recreational purposes. Each year, the county will set an alignment to use as much of the pasture and lower bench for ski trails as possible without disturbing the agricultural use. The lease terminates at the end of 2022.
Written by Marta L. Weismann