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    Jeffco, Boulder County and the City of Boulder to Consider Agreement on Land Adjacent to Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge

    Officials in three jurisdictions – Jefferson County, Boulder County and the City of Boulder – are considering an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that would greatly expand the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, preserve regional open space, resolve transportation issues, and create economic development opportunities in northern Jefferson County.

    Staffs from the three local governments have been negotiating since last fall, hammering out details for the draft IGA. The document will be reviewed by the Jefferson County Commissioners in a Staff Briefing session today, with a final decision to be made by the Jeffco Board next Tuesday. The Boulder County Commissioners will discuss the agreement on April 26, and the Boulder City Council will consider it on May 3.

    According to the proposed IGA, Jefferson County would contribute $5.1 million, and Boulder County and the City of Boulder would each contribute $2 million, all toward the purchase of Section 16, the majority of which is owned by the Colorado State Land Board with some surface and subsurface lease interests held by private owners. In addition to making these financial contributions, the partner governments would commit to engaging in good faith efforts to secure the remaining funds that could be necessary to acquire all of Section 16 and to turn it over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for inclusion in an expanded Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Section 16, at 640 acres, is located in northern Jefferson County near the intersection of highways 93 and 72, and is adjacent to the wildlife refuge and would provide a critical link for wildlife that connects the Refuge with the mountain backdrop.

    The majority of Jeffco’s contribution would come from Jefferson County Open Space funds. The City of Boulder’s contribution would come from its Open Space funding, and Boulder County’s contribution would come from non-sales tax open space funding. While portions of Section 16 have previously been identified as valuable properties in the Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan, all of Section 16 has been identified in the City of Boulder’s Open Space Acquisition Plan since 2005.

    The IGA also would require the City of Boulder and Boulder County to no longer oppose the construction of the Jefferson Parkway, which will link Highway 93 to Highway 128. Neither the city nor Boulder County would oppose the conveyance of the transportation corridor denoted in the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge Act of 2001 from the Department of the Interior’s USFWS to the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority (JPPHA).

    The IGA stipulates that the City of Boulder and Boulder County governments agree to contact the Department of the Interior, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and the Denver Regional Council of Governments to withdraw their opposition to the Jefferson Parkway.

    Although Highway 93 is a State Highway, owned and maintained by CDOT, the IGA would prohibit the partner governments from taking any steps to reduce capacity or maintenance on Highway 93, including entering into, or voting to support, agreements that would preclude maintenance, operational or capital enhancements. It would also prohibit the parties from making any agreement to toll the existing lanes of Highway 93 without support from all of the governments and the City of Golden.

    The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution in 2010 committing $5 million toward the purchase. The agreement proposes to place the contributions in escrow until the transportation corridor is acquired by the JPPHA and Section 16 is purchased. After staff negotiations with the City of Boulder and Boulder County that continued into 2011, the agreement now includes an additional $100,000 toward the purchase, bringing the total to $5.1 million.

    Additional funding and resources for the acquisition of both surface and mineral rights to preserve Section 16 will be sought from all interested governmental agencies and other sources. It is the intent of the partner governments to place the purchase money in escrow while finalizing the acquisition negotiations. The partner agencies will work to explore the possibilities of leveraging funds through land trades and other exchanges to keep the money in Colorado for the benefit of regional wildlife and open space, rather than sending cash funds to the federal government in Washington, D.C.

    April 19, 2011

    Last Updated: 5-31-2013