Douglas Land Conservancy (DLC) increased its portfolio of conserved lands by more than 2,500 acres this week (Feb. 17) as the conservation easements for the Sandstone Ranch and the Schmidt property in Douglas County’s West Plum Creek valley were finalized.

DLC, a non-profit land trust based in Castle Rock, worked in partnership with Douglas County on the conservation easements which will protect the open space and conservation values of the twoproperties.

The Sandstone Ranch is a 2,038-acre historic property the county bought in 2018 for more than $18 million and is near Perry Park on the west side of Highway 105. The Schmidt property is 520 acres near West Jackson Creek Road and the Pike National Forest boundary. Sandstone Ranch’s purchase price was shared by the County, GOCO ($3.5 million) and CRMC ($6 million). The Schmidt property was donated to the County in exchange for the conservation easement. The protection of the riparian area and wildlife habitat on the Schmidt property will help mitigate habitat loss caused by the expansion of Chatfield Reservoir.

DLC Executive Director Patti Hostetler said the finalization of the two easements is a major accomplishment that took several years working with the County, GOCO and CRMC. “Douglas LandConservancy is honored to continue fulfilling its job as a conservation partner to Douglas County, ensuring that Sandstone Ranch and the Schmidt property will always remain as protected open spaces and provide a great public benefit for many generations to come,” said Hostetler.

Sandstone Ranch is becoming a favorite and active open space among the many the County has made available to the public. After a lengthy planning process to develop a master plan, the County last fall constructed trails and a trailhead on the east side of the property and that area is open to the public. Other opportunities to explore Sandstone will be available through a County permitting process and through guided hikes conducted by DLC.

On the Schmidt property, the County plans to open selected, non-riparian portions of the land to the public in the future, enabling people to enjoy scenic aspects of the property. The addition of the two easements brings the total land preserved by DLC in Douglas, Elbert and Jefferson counties to 26,708 acres. DLC continues to work on other conservation projects and expects to add more acreage to itsportfolio in 2021. All of the acres DLC holds easements on are monitored annually to ensure the conservation values are not diminished.

DLC is thrilled to play a part in forever protecting these beautiful lands.