Stage 1 fire restrictions, enacted for unincorporated areas of western Boulder County.

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September 25, 2019

Boulder County purchases final parcel of the Loukonen-Dairy Farm north of Boulder

Acquisition completes the protection of 606 acres of wildlife habitat and agricultural land.

Boulder County, Colo. - Boulder County purchased the final 66-acre parcel of the Loukonen-Dairy Farm on Tuesday, Sept. 24, for $1.65 million. This acquisition completes an agreement initiated in 2010 for 606 acres of pristine wildlife habitat and agricultural land located along the North Foothills Highway (U.S. 36) north of Boulder and south of St. Vrain Road.

“Boulder County has worked determinedly for nearly 10 years to complete the purchase of the Loukonen property,” said Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones. “With this final parcel in place, we can now connect previously acquired open space and ensure this area of high biodiversity significance is fully protected from future development.”

In total, the county paid $16.7 million for the 606 acres of contiguous land which includes 560 shares of Left Hand Ditch Company water rights and 3.5 shares of Lake Ditch rights, which will be used to irrigate the property for agricultural production. The county also acquired the mineral interests with the purchase.

“Not only has acquiring the Loukonen-Dairy Farm property meant protecting the land in perpetuity as natural habitat, but by safeguarding it from future development, the county has preserved the scenic views of this highly visible parcel of land and allowed for the continued public enjoyment of a wide variety of native plants and foothills shrubs which enhance the beauty of this area,” added Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardner.

Property Details

The dairy farm property is located where the Front Range foothills transition to plains and contains some of the most biologically diverse habitat in Boulder County. Much of the property has a B-2, “very high biodiversity,” rating from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, and the property lies within the county’s South St. Vrain/Foothills Environmental Conservation Area.

The site contains high-quality native grasslands, shrub communities from the foothills, lush wetlands, and two riparian areas that support large plains cottonwoods. This diverse habitat makes the Loukonen Dairy Farm property an excellent area for breeding birds and mammals. The dairy farm is contiguous to Heil Valley Ranch and its Red Hill conservation area. The unique habitat along the Dakota Ridge hogback and the dairy farm property functions as elk winter range for the North Boulder elk herd, and is home to the globally rare Bell’s twinpod plant. The agricultural portions of the property are in pasture and alfalfa that also aid in the nutrition of the elk cows before they migrate and calve. The geography of the property creates a large, continuous chunk of undisturbed habitat when combined with the adjacent open space properties and conservation easements along Lykins Gulch.

The six siblings from the Loukonen family retained six house lots (one each) and two agricultural outlots, totaling about 200 acres. All eight parcels are protected by conservation easements that limit development – each house lot can have one residence, and the rest of the lots and the outlots will stay in agricultural use.

The open space property contained prime spots for residential development. If the dairy farm had not been preserved, new residential development would have been seen from every vista in the valley, including the views from U.S. 36 and from all around the property.

“Without the full acquisition of this property, the visual and wildlife benefits of this critical landscape would have been radically changed for future generations,” said Parks & Open Space Director Eric Lane. “We’re grateful to the taxpayers and supporters of open space to finally be able to complete this purchase.”

Loukonen Dairy Farm pond and field