Open space officials in Jefferson County are eyeing a land exchange that they say would benefit recreation and wildlife as well as a mining company.
The proposed deal was described as a “win-win” in a recent press release. The sales tax-funded Jeffco Open Space program would acquire 1,192 acres that would be funded by Martin Marietta Materials, which in turn would be allowed to expand its stone quarry on 48 acres south of Golden.
The county has a history of dealing with mine operators. In the release, Jeffco Open Space Director Tom Hoby noted this exchange would more than double the acreage received in 2004 by the previous company on site — land along the now-popular North Table Mountain Park.
The privately owned 1,192 acres are bordered by a trio of preserves beloved by Golden hikers and bikers: Centennial Cone, Mount Galbraith and Clear Creek Canyon parks. The acquisition would broaden the possibilities for adventure, explained Matt Robbins, Jeffco Open Space spokesman.
“To have something connecting three parks contiguously, that would allow someone to go for a hike or ride upwards of 20 miles, 30 miles,” he said. “That would be a very different experience right outside the metropolitan area.”
The swath is seen as an important wildlife corridor, too, Robbins said.
“Anytime you can get over 1,000 acres in Jefferson County preserved, it’s special,” he said. “We just don’t have that many parcels left in the county.”
He added: “To leverage a relationship with the mining company to pay for it is huge.”
In the press release, a Martin Marietta executive said it was “a once in a lifetime opportunity” to “create a lasting legacy and support the community in which we operate.”
County leadership has previously talked about converting the quarry into a reservoir eventually. Robbins said the company saw the deal as “a good value proposition” to “extend the life of the mine.”
The proposal is set to be presented to the open space advisory committee on Aug. 5.