One of Douglas County’s most historic ranches is now protected with a conservation easement made possible by County taxpayers, County Commissioners, The Conservation Fund, Douglas Land Conservancy (DLC), and the owner of Ditmars Ranch.
The purchase of Ditmars Ranch conservation easement was jointly funded by The Conservation Fund ($1 million) and Douglas County ($1 million). Douglas County’s portion was generated by the voter-approved Open Space Sales and Use Tax. The conservation easement will be held by Douglas Land Conservancy.
The 1,500-acre property was identified 25 years ago as a conservation priority in the South I-25 Conservation Corridor study, completed by the County and The Conservation Fund.
The property features a lush evergreen forest, as well as shrublands and grasslands, habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion, and bighorn sheep.
“The property qualifies as open space because it is being preserved for the scenic enjoyment of the general public and will yield a significant public benefit,” states the Deed of Conservation Easement.
“I am so incredibly grateful for the conservation easement program that will forever protect our ranch from development and preserve the wildlife and ecological environment forever,” said Don Ditmars, whose grandfather originally purchased land in the valley in 1892.
Although the property remains in private ownership, the conservation easement will accommodate public access via four guided public events per year. The property will continue to be managed as a working cattle ranch.
“We very much appreciate the generosity of the Ditmars family, which resulted in the permanent protection of their ranch. This critical addition to lands, already preserved in the South I-25 Conservation Corridor, now totals more than 35,000 acres,” said Justin Spring of The Conservation Fund.
“Our citizens and taxpayers had a significant role in this achievement with the 1994 voter passage and reauthorization in 1998 of the Open Space Sales and Use Tax,” said Roger Partridge, County Commissioner and Board Chair. “This dedicated revenue stream for Open Space acquisition and management created a catalog of properties representing one of the most prized attributes our County offers its citizens,” he said.
“We’re thrilled to be part of this collaborative effort to preserve Ditmars Ranch. Without Mr. Ditmars’ conservation interests and the conservation partners that came together to make sure the property was preserved, another piece of the unique character of Douglas County may have been lost. DLC is excited to begin fulfilling its role of ensuring that this land is protected forever,” said Patti Hostetler, Executive Director.