The Summit Land Conservancy successfully raised $375,000 over the weekend to close the funding gap that stood in the way of purchasing a conservation easement for the Osguthorpe Farm in the Snyderville Basin, ending a two-year effort to save the revered acreage on Old Ranch Road.
Cheryl Fox, Summit Land Conservancy director, was starting to lose hope on Friday that the money would be raised before a deadline at the end of the month. She added, “We were staring at failure.”
But, several large donations came in over the weekend, including one from the George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and a challenge grant from the Willow Creek homeowners association.
“It was like an avalanche came through,” Fox said on Tuesday. “People called and people emailed. It was really gratifying to realize that people didn’t want to see this property developed and they wanted to be able to leverage their local dollars with the federal money.”
The Osguthorpe family has owned property in Park City since the 1940s. The 158-acre property adjacent to Willow Creek Park has been highlighted by the community as a potential target for conservation for nearly 20 years. It is recognized in the Snyderville Basin General Plan as the last heritage ranch on Old Ranch Road.
The land trust entered into an agreement with the Osguthorpe family in 2017 to purchase a conservation easement to preserve the farm. The development rights for the farm are worth $17.8 million. The Osguthorpe family has taken $3.9 million off the total purchase price to retain rights to the house that is already on the property.
“I want to thank all the individuals who donated. We are overwhelmed by the community support,” Steve Osguthorpe said in a Summit Land Conservancy press release. “I also want to thank Summit Land Conservancy for all they’ve done. I never doubted they could do it. It’s been a long road but it all came together.”
The community rallied around the efforts to preserve the farm. Residents near Old Ranch Road organized a group, called Defenders of the Ranch, to help raise awareness about the land deal. Even children joined the effort.
“We are absolutely thrilled by the success of this campaign,” Trisha Worthington, a member of the Defenders of the Ranch group, said in the press release. “It was inspiring on so many fronts; we hit the fundraising goal securing funding from a variety of funders. Clearly, open space and heritage is important to our community when you see everyone rally like this.
More than 1,100 people contributed over $4.5 million for the transaction. Summit Land Conservancy secured an $8.8 million federal grant from a Farm Bill program to put toward the acquisition and Summit County contributed $500,000.
The conservation easement allows the farm to stay operational and prevents any future development on the property. Fox has said development there would greatly impact the Basin, particularly Old Ranch Road. She said it would have affected views, recreational experiences, traffic and, most importantly, the East Canyon Creek.
“I’m a little exhausted. Otherwise I would be doing the happy dance,” Fox said. “We have a wonderful community. People really rally around each other whether it’s supporting someone who has been injured or a nonprofit that needs a lift like this to save some open space. As nonprofits, we give the community’s collective soul a chance to shine and it was really shining this weekend.”