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Summit Land Conservancy closes on first open space bond purchase

Moo cows call the Andrus family farm home.
Summit Land Conservancy
Moo cows call the Andrus family farm home.

Summit County announced the intent to conserve the 96-acre Andrus farm in January 2023.

The nonprofit Summit Land Conservancy announced March 12 it had officially secured a conservation easement for the farm between Kamas and Oakley.

It’s home to two intermittent streams from Thorn Creek and is near the Weber and Provo headwaters.

"The land is beloved by all of my brothers and sisters and cousins, as my grandfather bought it in 1914. My daughter Michelle is now the fourth-generation that has loved and worked the land,” said landowner, Irene Ruf. “It's just precious. It's home."

Summit Land Conservancy said in a press release it had been working with the Andrus family to conserve the property since 2011. It will now hold a conservation easement on the property, which permanently restricts development.

The farm has an appraised value of nearly $3.5 million, but the Andrus family accepted a little over $2.2 million for the easement.

Summit Land Conservancy secured grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and private donors, including the Willard Eccles Foundation, for $1.7 million.

Summit County chipped in $500,000, half from the Eastern Summit County Agricultural Preservation fund and half from the $50 million general obligation bond voters approved expressly for open space preservation in 2021.

The bond money has since been used for down payments on the 834-acre Ure Ranch, also in the Kamas Meadows, and the 8,600-acre 910 Cattle Ranch in western Summit County.

Summit Land Conservancy CEO Cheryl Fox thanked Ruf and her family, which has been practicing regenerative agriculture on the property for years.

“It wasn't until 2021, when the Summit County open space bond passed, that we felt that we could really find enough financing to put this conservation easement in place,” Fox said.  

In 2023, the federal government granted the conservancy more than $22 million for projects in the Kamas Valley. Fox said they hope to use the money to protect more of the area’s aquifer and wetlands.

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