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174-Acre Property Added to the South Platte River Trail

Monday, July 17, 2017 -- GOCO
July 17, 2017
The Trust for Public Land

Acquisition makes a 110-acre lake a new public open space amenity in Adams County

Brighton, Colo. – Adams County Parks & Open Space and the Trust for Public Land announced today that they have acquired the 174-acre Willow Bay Property located along the South Platte River. The property includes a 110-acre lake located at the northern terminus of the South Platte River Trail, and its protection culminates more than 30 years of open space preservation along the South Platte River in Adams County.    

Adams County purchased the property for $9.1 million, utilizing its own funding, $3 million of Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) funding, and with $100,000 provided by the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.  A reimbursement of $3.7 million is expected through a grant from the State of Colorado’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Trustees later this year. Adams County, The Trust for Public Land, GOCO, and the NRDAR Trustees agreed that creating a new destination on the South Platte River Trail that people can bike, hike, or drive to was very important to them, especially with the exponential population growth in the Denver Metro Area each year.

The Trust for Public Land’s involvement was critical to the project’s success as they negotiated and secured the purchase, working in partnership with Adams County to secure the funding for the acquisition, and managed the transaction through closing.

“It has been an absolute honor to work with Adams County, GOCO, and the NRDAR Trustees to help make this transaction happen,” said Wade Shelton, Trust for Public Land project manager. “Making sure that everyone has a place to enjoy the outdoors is why everyone at The Trust for Public Land works hard each day, and I am really looking forward to watching someone catch their first fish when Willow Bay is open to the public.”

The protection of the Willow Bay Property has been a priority for numerous local and state agencies for more than 25 years, including Adams County Parks & Open Space, the City of Brighton, and the Division of Parks and Wildlife. Acquiring this public space proved to be challenging due to the unique nature of the property and its high dollar value. Ultimately, it took a diverse team of conservation professionals to finally make it a reality.

“This acquisition will provide our residents with the kind of active amenity they can enjoy with their families,” said Eva Henry, Adams County Commissioner. “Adding Willow Bay to the county’s network of parks and trails extends our commitment to improving the overall quality of life for our residents.”

Now that the transaction is complete, Adams County will begin taking the necessary steps to open the property to the public, which will include a formal public planning and design process, slated to begin in 2018, to ensure the restoration of the property and development of the site meet the needs of the local community. The county anticipates the property will be open for fishing, non-motorized boating, swimming, and picnicking, with public parking and bike and pedestrian access via the South Platte River Trail in the coming years – a formal timeline will be developed as part of the planning process.

“GOCO is pleased to be a part of this meaningful project and to invest Colorado Lottery proceeds in efforts that positively impact Coloradans’ quality of life,” said GOCO Executive Director Chris Castilian. “Congratulations to the partners who made the Willow Bay acquisition possible and to the many people who will enjoy this open space and great place for recreation into the future.”

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About The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come.  Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.  To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

About Adams County

With rich traditions and history, Adams County offers the best of suburban and rural life – vibrant cities, quiet towns, and miles of recreation. Located in the Denver metro area, Adams is the state’s 5th largest county serving a population of nearly 500,000 residents. Adams County is home to the cities of Brighton, Commerce City, Federal Heights, Northglenn and Thornton; portions of Arvada, Aurora, and Westminster; and the town of Bennett. Unincorporated communities include Henderson, Strasburg, and Watkins. Stay up to date on the latest county news and information on adcogov.org, Facebook, and Twitter.

About Great Outdoors Colorado

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,900 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.