Summit County enters $25 million option to buy farmland in Kamas Valley
The Summit County Council will consider a recommendation by the County Manager to enter an option agreement with the Ure family to acquire their 834-acre farm in the Kamas Valley.
The council will consider the purchase for approval officially at their meeting next Wednesday, but by all accounts it’s a done deal.
Councilmember Tonja Hanson said the county had reached out to the Ure family years ago, so that in case they ever wanted to sell their land, they would keep the county in mind.
“The Kamas Meadow is a critical, critical part of the Summit County Water ecosystem,” Hanson said. “All the water from that Kamas Meadow flows into the Weber River.”
And the Weber River watershed is a major part of Summit County’s water resources.
Council Chair Roger Armstrong said in a statement the purchase is an important step in preserving the Kamas Meadow and supports the preservation of agricultural values in the Kamas Valley.
The county plans to collaborate with Summit Land Conservancy to find additional financing options and leverage the county’s General Obligation Bond open space funds.
This would be the second time the county used the $50 million in GO Bonds approved by voters in 2021. The first was with the Andrus family, whose 99 acres the county acquired in January.
But the county wants to combine the bond money with funds from the conservancy, development community, government grants and other open space partners because, as Hanson said, it may allow more open space acquisitions down the road.
“We as a county council are trying to make that bond money, that $50 million bond money, go as far as we possibly can,” she said.
The majority of the property acquired will become protected open space.
The Ure family are life-long residents of Summit County. David Ure served as a long-time member of the Summit County Council, and his son Chris has served as a member of the East Side Planning Commission and County Board of Health.
In a statement, the family said while they are sad to end an over 130-year legacy of Ures farming this ground, they are thrilled with this outcome, adding that this will be a great benefit to the community and county for a very long time.
The Ure property was homesteaded in 1892 and has operated as a dairy and cattle ranch for more than 130 years. The property is located at the southern entrance of the Kamas Valley, and the gateway to the Uinta Mountains, along state Route 248.
Summit County will pay $5 million as an option fee to secure the property and may take up to four years to close on the property. This time will be used to secure additional funding to go toward a total purchase price of $25 million.
Hanson says it will go a long way toward protecting not just these 834 acres, but the whole county too.
“Whether you know it or not, we're all down downstream from this property. So it's very, very exciting,” she said. “I hope everyone's as excited about it as I am.
Summit County is still accepting notices of intent from landowners who are interested in preserving their property through acquisitions or conservation easement projects.
Summit County landowners interested in applying for funds to protect and preserve their property can learn more at https://summitcounty.org/1268/Public-Lands.
Qualifying criteria include funding, location of property and other priorities adopted by the Open Space Advisory Committee.