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Lafarge North Table Mountains Open Space Transaction
Click to see Dedication Event Photos
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The exchange of land between Jefferson County and LaFarge is complete! A ceremony concluding a long process of the land transfer took place September 2nd, 2004 at the northwestern foot of North Table Mountain. The president of LaFarge North America, along with the three Jefferson County Commissioners and the Mayor or Golden, were present and spoke a few words celebrating this historic exchange.

Read below for the details of this key development in the protection of North Table Mountain:

On Tuesday morning, October 1, 2002; the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a land transaction with Lafarge-North America.  This was a milestone event in what has been a long process.  

Over four years ago Lafarge, that operates the Specification Aggregate Quarry adjacent to Heritage Square in Golden, first tendered a proposal that would adjust the southern boundary of its quarry through the addition of 60 acres of land currently contained in Matthews-Winter Jefferson County Open Space north of I-70.  The proposal represented a complicated open space transaction with great potential benefit to the Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) program but with wide ranging political, ecological and philosophical ramifications for JCOS, the City of Golden and open space advocates.

 A formal proposal was made to the JCOS Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) on February 7, 2002.  However, even before then significant modifications to the Lafarge proposal had been effectively negotiated through the efforts of citizen open space advocacy groups, led by Plan Jeffco.  At the time of the formal proposal to OSAC the major elements of the proposed transaction were: 

             Transfer of 60 acres of Matthews-Winter JCOS on the southern border of the quarry to Lafarge.  Currently this open space has no trails and is not accessible.  Transfer of three parcels in the vicinity of the quarry, totaling 60 acres, to JCOS. Contingent on the boundary adjustment, Lafarge would donate 463 acres it owns on North Table Mountain to JCOS. Lafarge would donate the quarry land, including the Mathews-Winter Open Space obtained in the boundary adjustment, back to JCOS at the end of the quarry life.  Lafarge would perform enhanced reclamation of all land quarried and establish a sufficient bond to insure future reclamation  Lafarge would forgo the ability to mine a 106 acre parcel of land on State Land Board, Section 16 and will pay $50,000 a year in royalties to insure that the land is not developed in the immediate future. 

 OSAC approved the proposal, recommending to the Board of County Commissioners that the transaction go forward.  Subsequently, JCOS staff undertook extensive negotiations with Lafarge and although many embellishments were added the essential elements of the deal remained intact for approval by the Commissioners.  The arena shifted to the City of Golden, as the Lafarge quarry is in the city.  Permits and reclamation, controlled by a Planned Unit Development (PUD) administered by Golden, were successfully negotiated.  Importantly, the details of enhanced quarry reclamation, deemed one of the most important aspects of the deal, were established between Lafarge and the City of Golden. 

 In addition, negotiations with regard to the ultimate status of Section 16 land will continue with the State Land Board.  This land exchange has been a creative, but nonetheless controversial endeavor.  Even though much land and value has been added to Jefferson County Open Space, including 463 acres on North Table Mountain in Golden, some will still point out that this was accomplished with the sacrifice of existing open space and that this should never be done.  This admonition is important to consider.  However, as the county approaches "build out", with intensifying competition for a dwindling pool of open lands, these kinds of creative, compromise transactions may become necessary to preserve the open space that defines our quality of life.  In this regard, to those who would advocate for limits on open space acquisition in Jefferson County, who ask "How much open space is enough?", it should be pointed out that there is no "sunset" being imposed on growth and development and so there should be none arbitrarily imposed on open space acquisition.  Significant open space acquisition, however it is accomplished, is an important tool in securing quality of life for the citizens of Jefferson County.   

For TMCF Position Statement on North Table Mountain Management Plans, click here

For Jefferson County Open Space concept plans for this mesa, click here.