Northern Front Range Lower South Platte River

Productive lands and thriving wildlife

Colorado’s Northern Front Range Lower South Platte River comprise some of the most productive agricultural land in the state. From the foothills of the Rocky Mountains across the Great Plains to the Nebraska border, this landscape also encompasses some of the state’s most significant wildlife habitat. Water from the South Platte River system sustains a $4.5 billion a year agricultural industry, and supports critical habitat for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl each year.

Human and wildlife communities are tightly intertwined here. As the state’s population continues to grow, much of that growth is expected to occur in northern Colorado including Boulder, Larimer, Weld, Adams and Morgan counties. If innovative solutions are not found to meet water needs, farmers and ranchers who grow our nation’s food and fiber will sell their water and leave agriculture. Colorado Open Lands is working on creative approaches to meeting Colorado’s growing water demand while keeping farmers on farms – a future that supports the rural agricultural communities, families, and wildlife that depend on the South Platte River system.

In early 2016, Colorado Open Lands merged with Legacy Land Trust to ensure the continued pace, quality, and permanence of land protection in this region.


Featured Projects:

Larimer County, 522 Acres
Located in a biologically complex transition area between the great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. Harbors a short stretch of Dale Creek and a small area of wet meadow.

Marrs Family Farm and West Bijou Creek

Arapahoe County, 9,051 Acres
Contains five miles of West Bijou Creek, providing habitat to golden eagle, pronghorn, deer, badger, coyote, and bison. Also contains the world’s best example of the KT boundary – the layer of ash and rock that is the remains of the meteor that hit the earth and killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
Partners: GOCO, Arapahoe County, Plains Conservation Center, Trust for Public Land, West Arapahoe Conservation District

Prewitt Ranch

Washington County, 3,796 Acres
Straddles I-76 and comprises sand hill grasslands, irrigated crop land, sub-irrigated meadows, wetland and ponds. More than two miles of shoreline of the Prewitt Reservoir, a portion of which is leased to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, providing fishing, hunting, and recreational access.
Partners: Ducks Unlimited, GOCO, US Fish and Wildlife Service


Swedlund Ranch

Photo Credit: John Fielder

Logan County, 1,949 Acres
Working cattle ranch adjacent to the North Sterling Reservoir, a designated State Park. Contains a historical homestead stone cabin near the center of the property and Native American teepee rings.

Woodard Ranch

Elbert County
Preserves short grass prairie, ponderosa pine woodlands, and grazing and cropland, while also protecting nearly 4 miles of the Middle Bijou Creek Corridor. Public access easement held by Colorado Parks and Wildlife will allow the public to enjoy limited hunting rights throughout the year, giving priority to wounded warriors, women, and kids.
Partners: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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