Summit County approves first Conservation Easement using GO Bond Open Space Funds
A joint agreement with Summit Land Conservancy protects 99 acres in the Kamas Meadows
Summit County, Utah (January 25, 2023) — Summit County Council approved a recommendation by the Summit County Interim County Manager to enter a joint funding agreement with Summit Land Conservancy to acquire an agricultural easement for 99 acres in the Kamas Meadows known as Andrus Farm. This easement marks the first use of the $50 million General Obligation Bond funds approved by voters in 2021 to preserve open space in Summit County.
“The Meadows are a vital part of the Kamas Valley’s agricultural heritage, scenic open space and vital watershed,” County Council Chair Roger Armstrong said. “We’re pleased to move forward with this agreement in partnership with Summit Land Conservancy and are eager to protect and preserve additional areas of Summit County for future generations, while working together to leverage our public funds with Summit Land Conservancy’s federal grants to extend the life and reach of the GO Bond funding.”
Summit County provided a total of $500,000 to further the Summit Land Conservancy project, combining $250,000 of GO Bond funds with $250,000 of Eastern Summit County Agricultural Preservation (ESAP) funds. Those amounts will be combined with, and leveraged by, conservation funds raised by Summit Land Conservancy to purchase the agricultural conservation easement on this portion of the critical part of the Kamas Valley Meadows watershed and aquifer. The project was first presented to Summit County’s Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) who determined the property was eligible for funding based on its agricultural heritage, watershed protection, open space, and riparian values.
“Eastern Summit County is a high-priority area for our committee to conserve and protect,” OSAC Chair Wes Siddoway said. “We’re grateful Summit Land Conservancy brought forward this critical project and encourage other property owners to submit their properties for evaluation and potential preservation.”
Summit Land Conservancy has been in talks with the Andrus family about saving their property since 2011. In addition to the County funds, the Conservancy has secured $1.7 million in federal grant money through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program as well as other private foundations.
“The Summit Land Conservancy is thrilled to partner with Summit County and the NRCS in the permanent protection of the Andrus family property,” Summit Land Conservancy Vice President of Conservation and Counsel, Kate Sattelmeier said. “With ever increasing pressures for development throughout the County, the Kamas Valley is a vital piece to the Weber River Watershed and we're thankful to the Andrus family for their decision to keep their property as open agricultural land forever.”
The property, located in Marion, has been owned by the Andrus family since 1914 and is entirely surrounded by other agricultural lands that make up the scenic Kamas Valley Meadows. Two intermittent streams from Thorn Creek run through the Andrus Farm property, and the open pastureland serves as important wintering ground and migration corridors for mule deer and elk. The 99-acres are visible from State Route 32 and contribute greatly to viewshed of the community. There is no public access to the property and the easement will not require public use or access. The family wishes to see the property continue in agricultural use and be preserved as open space in the Kamas Valley in perpetuity.
Summit County is actively 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.