Brush Creek Valley Ranch

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What is the Eagle County Open Space Fund?
The Eagle County Open Space Fund was established in 2002 and reauthorized by the voters in 2018. The voters authorized an ad valorem (property) tax mill levy not in excess of 1.5 mills for the purpose of acquiring, maintaining and permanently preserving open space in Eagle County. The tax generates approximately $4.5 million annually. The tax is scheduled to sunset in 2040.
How does the Open Space Department decide what to purchase?
The Open Space Department coordinates its work with the Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC), a committee of seven citizens appointed by the Board of County Commissioners from throughout Eagle County. Proposed acquisitions are brought to OSAC for discussion and consideration. OSAC makes a recommendation concerning each acquisition and related expenditure of Open Space Funds to the Board of County Commissioners, who make the final decision. Established criteria are used to evaluate and prioritize potential projects.
How many acres has the Open Space Department purchased or helped to preserve?
To date, Eagle County through its Open Space Program has helped to purchase and/or preserve approximately 13,000 acres at a total cost of about $91 million, of which approximately $56 million was funded through the Open Space Fund. The balance of the funding is the result of important partnerships including towns, metropolitan districts, home owners associations, Great Outdoors Colorado, and private donations. The Open Space Fund has also funded improvements to its various properties, such as boat ramps, parking and restrooms.
How big is the Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space property and where is it?
The 1,671-acre Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space property is located just south of the Town of Eagle, Colorado, along Brush Creek Road.
How much did the Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space property cost
The total purchase price was $15.5 million for the initial 1,540 acres and an additional $2.3 million was spent on a 131 acre inholding to the property during the summer of 2020. Many other partners contributed toward the purchase, including Great Outdoors Colorado, The Conservation Fund, Town of Eagle, Eagle Ranch Wildlife Committee, Eagle Valley Land Trust, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and private donors. The property is protected by a conservation easement held by the Eagle Valley Land Trust.
Why did Eagle County purchase the Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space property?
The purchase of the Ranch is the culmination of many years of effort to preserve the Brush Creek valley. The land was once included in the plan to develop the Adam’s Rib ski area. Today, the Ranch is the last undeveloped piece of the original Adam’s Rib development plan, and the last property of its kind in the Brush Creek valley. The Ranch is visible from both sides of Brush Creek Road for just over 3 miles and includes approximately 3 miles of Brush and Salt Creeks. Ownership of the Ranch will help to preserve movement corridors and habitat for big game, help to preserve our agricultural heritage and will create opportunities for high-quality, dispersed recreation.
What is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal, land-protection agreement between a property owner and a third party (typically a land trust) that places restrictions on a piece of property with a goal of permanently preserving the property. For example, conservation easements can restrict the amount of future development or building that may occur on a piece of property. Land trusts are required to monitor the property annually to ensure that the easement is being complied with.
What is the Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space Conservation Easement?
This conservation easement is held by the Eagle Valley Land Trust. The conservation easement protects the land forever. This conservation easement is intended to protect the following values:

  • Public Recreation or Education
  • Relatively Natural Habitat
  • Open Space/Scenic Enjoyment
  • Agriculture
These concepts are often referred to as the “Conservation Values.”
What is a management plan?
A management plan is a tool that will ultimately assist the land owner, in this case Eagle County, to effectively manage the day to day operation of the property. The management plan includes basic rules and detail concerning the operation of the property and coordination of various potential uses. Eagle County involved the public in the planning process to help identify how the property could be best utilized while also protecting the land for its natural resources.

The conservation easement and the grant from Great Outdoors Colorado required that a management plan be put in place. The plan is reviewed regularly and can be updated by the County and the Land Trust as needed.
What does the Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space conservation easement limit?
In general, this easement prohibits subdivision, mining, commercial and industrial activities. The easement for the Ranch property also limits the amount of paving and development that can occur.
What does the Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space conservation easement allow?
Agricultural operations, education, recreation activities and scenic enjoyment are permitted by the easement, in a manner that is consistent with the Conservation Values.
What is the management planning process and who will make the decisions?
The management planning process involves stakeholder groups, public outreach, and multiple draft plans before final adoption. The Open Space department is responsible for fulfilling the steps and priorities outlined in the management plan.
Will the property be open in 2020?
Yes. The Salt Creek area trails remain open to hikers and equestrian users and the main trailhead off Brush Creek Road is open from sunrise to sunset. Hikers, bikers, and equestrians can use the 3 Sisters trail to access adjacent trail systems and public lands. The main trailhead off Brush Creek Road and the 3 Sisters trail is closed from December 1st through July 1st for wildlife protections.
Who leases the property?
The County has leased the property to Gerard Family Ranch. A local family and partnership that has been ranching in Eagle County for generations.
Will the property be leased in the future?
Yes. The lessees assist Eagle County with ditch maintenance and running the working agricultural operation.
Can I board my horses or obtain a grazing lease on the property?
All sub leases must go through Eagle County Open Space and the current lessee. Please contact Eagle County Open Space for more information.
Who is responsible for the horses and cattle?
The current lessee is responsible for all livestock on Brush Creek Valley Ranch and Open Space.
Will there be recreational access to the Ranch?
Yes. Hikers and equestrian users may use the Salt Creek area trails. HIkers, bikers, and equestrians are welcome on the 3 Sisters and Adam’s Way trails. Walk and Wade fishing access is permitted along the paved path in the Salt Creek area along Brush Creek as well as at the main trailhead area.
Who can I contact if I have questions?
Peter Suneson, Open Space Outreach and Education Specialist, 970-328-8637,
Phil Kirkman, Senior Resource Specialist and Open Space Ranger, 970-328-8701,
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