Osguthorpe Family Farm Preservation Is A Done Deal
The Summit Land Conservancy announced the campaign to save the 158-acre Osguthorpe Farm on Old Ranch Road in the Snyderville Basin is over. They’ve raised the $17,856,000 dollars needed to create an agricultural easement and preserve the farm forever.
Late in 2017, the Summit Land Conservancy announced their campaign to preserve the Osguthorpe family farm as a heritage ranch. That summer, they received an 8.8 million-dollar federal matching grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Services. The rest of the money has come from several sources. The Osguthorpe family donated $3.9 million, individuals contributed 4.5 million and $500,000 is earmarked from Summit County. Summit Land Conservancy Executive Director Cheryl Fox says March 31st was the deadline for meeting the federal matching grant.
“You know, we thought we would have all the money raised a year ago and we didn’t. And the family said OK we'll take out these loans. We’ll pay off the bequest that we have to pay off, and we’ll give you another year. And, so this was the end of the other year at the end of March. Again, the community just stepped up. It was amazing. People asked their mothers, their fathers, their adult children. I mean just a huge number of people. Over 1000 people. It's just amazing to see what a wonderful community this is and how supportive they are when we really have a chance to do something special.”
There is no recreation agreement on the property at this point. Fox says Basin Recreation did not participate with any open space funds in the transaction.
“Agricultural use had to be first because 50% was coming from the federal government and also you know a significant portion, another 22% was coming from the family and the whole reason the family was doing this is because they are farmers and ranchers. They have to stay in business.”
The Snyderville Basin Recreation District currently has over $13 million-dollars to use for purchasing and preserving recreational open space. Summit County Manager, Tom Fisher, says they couldn’t reconcile the needs of a farming operation with the recreation conditions required by the Basin.
“We worked for over two years to try to get to agreement on what recreation meant on the property? What could happen on the property? And at the end of the day I think it came down to a business decision by the family that they just couldn't, under the conditions that Basin Rec needed in order to do winter sports on the property, just couldn’t rectify that with the business of the farm.”
Fisher says he’s not sure why the agricultural and cross-country skiing operations wouldn’t work on this piece of land.
“My guess is, it has to do with the preparation for skate skiing, the fact that there's irrigation on the property and it's above ground. The overall operation of how that would work in the fall and the spring seasons. And so, again, at the end of the day the family chose not to go that direction and here's the result. The community has stepped up and it’s going to be preserved.”
Fisher says the money associated with the $500,000 grant does not have recreation requirements.
“Was the proceeds of a sale of property that went towards open space from the Canyons development and there's still enough money in that account to grant that $500,000 towards the Osguthorpe purchase.
The Conservancy is focused on two additional NRCS properties. One is a 90-acre piece in Henefer on the Weber River. The other is an 850-acre property up Chalk Creek Canyon outside of Coalville. They’re talking with the city about a conservation easement on theTreasure Hill property and a project to expand the McPolin Farm easement to include the stream.