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Land Acquisition Program

Land Acquisition Program

The City of Boulder owns and manages more than 45,000 acres of Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) land in and around Boulder, Colorado. The very first piece of land, 80 acres at the base of Flagstaff Mountain, was purchased by the city in 1898 to be used as one in a series of Chautauqua cultural centers around the country. Since then, the Open Space program (established in 1967) has acquired over 400 separate properties. Acquisitions Over Time is an animated map series that shows the land purchases over time. 

In addition to land acquisitions, the Open Space program acquires water rights to help support agricultural operations and preserve historical water rights. Approximately 6,000 acres of open space land are irrigated with these water rights. Whenever possible, mineral rights are also acquired during the land acquisition process.

How Are Decisions Made Regarding Acquisitions?

The Open Space and Mountain Parks division acquires properties based on the Open Space Acquisitions and Management Plan 2013 - 2019 pdf, adopted by the Boulder City Council in 2013. Recommendations for acquisitions are approved by the Open Space Board of Trustees and Boulder City Council pursuant to the City of Boulder Charter, Article XII, Open Space.

Methods to acquire properties: 

  • Property purchases: Fee interest acquisitions are based on fair market value.
  • Bargain and sale agreements: Involve a donation of land as one of the components. 
  • Conservation Easements: The fee interest is retained by the property owner and the owner has agreed to permanently limit their use of the land to protect its conservation values. 
  • Joint acquisitions: Partner with other agencies, most notably Boulder County, on joint acquisitions. 
  • Purchase an interest in property that is less than the total interest.  

Shop...Hike...Bike...in Boulder!

The Open Space and Mountain Parks program is about 92 percent funded by sales and use tax dollars. 0.88 cents of every dollar spent on retail products in the City of Boulder helps support the continued acquisition of OSMP lands; protecting the land from development and preserving it for future generations. Approximately half of this revenue is set to expire by 2019. 

Interested in selling or donating property?

If you, or someone you know, are interested in selling or donating a property to the Open Space and Mountain Parks program, or if you would like more information on the acquisition program, please call the OSMP office at 303-441-3440, or submit a comment online.