Given the population growth of the Denver metro area, the number of large acreage, multigenerational ranches in the Front Range foothills are quickly fading. As ranches are subdivided, we not only lose some of the character and heritage of the area, but the wildlife, plants, and overall habitat suffer as well. With Colorado’s population expected to grow by an additional 2.5 million people in the next 25 years, it is important that landowners find mutually beneficial solutions that will both accommodate the growing population and encourage responsible, forward-thinking land use.
Centaur Meadows Ranch is a perfect example of a large Front Range ranch that strikes a fair balance between conscientious land stewardship and financial upside. As discussed at length in a previous post, the ranch’s rural cluster plan permanently conserves 300 acres of the property, but also allows for 26 five-acre homesites on the remaining acreage—double the density allowed by standard county zoning regulations. The homesites are clustered in select locations throughout the ranch, keeping much of the wildlife habitat and grassy meadows undisturbed.
Keeping the meadows free of development in perpetuity will allow future owners to continue to graze the grass with 20 to 25 cows per season, which not only could provide a small amount of leasing revenue, but is also beneficial to the overall health of the grasses and plant life. As discussed in a previous post, grasses of the American West evolved to be grazed, and responsible grazing will help grasses (and all those animals that depend on the grass) to thrive.
The grassy meadows and forested hillsides are also very attractive to deer, elk, and other area wildlife. As the population density in the Evergreen-Conifer area continues to increase, there are fewer areas for wildlife to live and graze, causing conserved ranches like Centaur Meadows to become veritable wildlife sanctuaries. Whether a future owner is a committed big game hunter, wildlife photographer, or simply a nature enthusiast, the idea that Centaur Meadows will always be a retreat for area wildlife is very attractive and unique for this area of Colorado.
Finally, in addition to the benefits that result from healthy plants and abundant wildlife, the ranch also offers significantly more financial and profit potential than many other conserved ranches. As mentioned above, the ranch offers double the development density allowed by Jefferson County (26 lots versus 13 that would be allowed on normal agricultural land), creating a turnkey opportunity for development rarely seen in this part of the state. During the planning process, the lot locations were meticulously selected so as to maximize development potential, but to maintain the integrity and beauty of the ranch. The end result of a development would be an exclusive, private neighborhood in a convenient location, but with the characteristics of a rural ranch–Open meadows, grazing cows, abundant wildlife and 14,000-foot mountain views.