Summit County Council considers $55 million purchase of 8,576-acre cattle ranch for conservation

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — The Summit County Council is set to convene a special meeting on August 24, 2023, to deliberate on a recommendation brought forth by the Summit County Manager for the approval of an agreement for the acquisition of the expansive 8,576-acre 910 Cattle Ranch, situated north of Jeremy Ranch, for a sum of $55 million.

The transaction structure includes a four-year option for the purchase of the property, coupled with an immediate lease granting the County operational control during this option period.

8,576-acre property line

A significant attribute of the 910 Cattle Ranch is its status as one of the last contiguous mountain ranches under private ownership within western Summit County and the Snyderville Basin vicinity. The ranch serves as habitat for a diverse array of wildlife species encompassing avian, terrestrial mammals, and aquatic organisms. Importantly, hunting activities will be strictly prohibited on the premises.

Chairperson of the Summit County Council, Roger Armstrong, expressed admiration for the property’s ecological diversity and aesthetic allure. Armstrong emphasized the potential multifaceted benefits the ranch could offer, encompassing conservation efforts, wildlife preservation, recreational pursuits, agricultural activities, educational endeavors, and research initiatives. He lauded the landowner’s commitment to conservation and praised the County’s opportunity to uphold this mission.

Jess Kirby, the Director of Summit County Lands and Natural Resources, played an instrumental role in orchestrating the transaction. Kirby will lead the County’s endeavors concerning grant acquisition and management of the property.

“The property size and its connectivity to other protected lands is truly incredible,” Kirby said. “This is a rare opportunity—a once-in-a-lifetime property. It is a legacy parcel for our community and a dream come true.”

910 Cattle Ranch, an 8,576-acre property north of Jeremy Ranch, for $55 million

The Summit County Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) has also evaluated and endorsed the property as suitable for conservation. OSAC Chair Wes Siddoway described the opportunity as “once in forever” and highlighted its long-lasting benefits for present and future generations.

Stakeholders from conservation organizations, including Cheryl Fox, CEO of Summit Land Conservancy, and Wendy Fisher, Executive Director of Utah Open Lands, hailed the County Council’s decision as visionary and transformative. They remarked on the legacy implications of preserving such a large, ecologically valuable tract of land.

Pending approval, the County will secure a three-year option to purchase the 910 Cattle Ranch for an upfront fee of $15 million. An extension for an additional year could be exercised for $5 million, with these payments contributing toward the final purchase cost. The County would also assume immediate management of the property via a lease agreement, involving a monthly fee of $5,000, concurrent with the option agreement.

A special Council meeting on Thursday, August 24, 2023, at 4 p.m. at the Richins Building in Kimball Junction will provide an opportunity for public engagement. At that meeting, the public can expect to hear about the option agreement details, the land use planning and management opportunity at hand, and they will have an opportunity to provide comments for future desired use.

In addition, during the contemplated option period, there will be additional public engagement opportunities to help Summit County shape future public uses and how they will be implemented consistent with the landowner’s conservation vision.

While Summit County will obtain immediate control of the property, the area will remain private property until further notice to allow for comprehensive planning; accordingly, the County requests the public to respect the landowner’s private property and remain on East Canyon Road (NE Canyon Rd) while enjoying the area. Opportunities for public guided tours are forthcoming, but hunting will remain unlawful at all times.

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