CROSSING TO SAFETY: HENEFER RIVERFRONT RANCH PROTECTED BY CONSERVATION EASEMENT
Fawcett Family and Summit Land Conservancy Tap Diverse Range of Funding Sources to Protect Agricultural Resources and Wildlife Habitat
HENEFER – July 14, 2009 – Working with long-time Summit County landowners and a coalition of funding sources, the Summit Land Conservancy has permanently protected 42 acres along the Weber River near Henefer. This river-front property contains two of the rare natural river bends left in this section of the Weber River. Deer, elk, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and brown trout all find important habitat on the property.
Since 1907 the Fawcett family has owned and farmed this property. Legend says that the Mormon pioneers crossed the Weber River here in 1847. For the last hundred years, the Fawcetts have used the land to raise sheep, cattle and hay. They wanted to protect this heritage and pass it on to their descendants.
Kent Fawcett explains, “40 years ago, a property owner in rural Summit County had a dream and two choices: the dream was to leave their children a legacy of land, regardless of size, that had brought many days of hard work and fulfillment to the family. The choices were to continue to farm the property with minimal return on investment or develop and sell the property into the housing market.”
He goes on to state that “the recent growth and development of Summit County has brought with it an opportunity that did not exist in 1970, that is to preserve our farm in its present state for generations to enjoy. The Summit Land Conservancy has delivered this opportunity to our door step and made it a reality”
The Park City based Summit Land Conservancy’s mission is to work with landowners to save as much of the remaining open land in Summit County as possible. “It’s our job to put together the partnerships to protect these kinds of properties,” says Executive Director, Cheryl Fox. Over the last year, the Summit Land Conservancy raised the money to purchase a conservation easement on the property. “In essence we’re buying the development rights off the property,” explains Fox. “The family made a substantial donation by reducing the cost of those rights then we found partners who shared the family’s commitment to maintaining agricultural uses, wildlife habitat, clean water, and scenic open space.”
Those partners include the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ Habitat Council, the Utah Division of Water Quality, the Eastern Summit County Agricultural Preservation Committee, the George S. and Delores Doré Eccles Foundation, the Mellen Foundation and Geary Construction. High Country Fly Fishers and the Stonefly Society, both local chapters of Trout Unlimited, also made significant contributions, recognizing that as local river-front ranches are turned into subdivisions, access to the fishery is often restricted.
The Summit Land Conservancy also used funds generated from its 1% For Open Space program to complete the purchase of this easement. Local businesses who participate in 1% For Open Space, such as White Pine Touring, Deer Valley Resort, and Park City Lodging help raise funds to protect open space by asking their customers for a small donation.
The Fawcett family can now keep their property, as they have for the last 100 years. They can continue to farm and ranch the land and pass it on to their heirs or sell it to another farmer or rancher. Thanks to the Fawcett’s willingness to work with the Summit Land Conservancy, future generations of Summit County residents will be able to enjoy the views, the wildlife, and the river forever.
What you didn’t know: The Mormon Pioneers crossed the Weber River here in 1847. At that time willows grew thickly throughout the river bottom. Old stories tell that those willows were full of grizzly bears, so the pioneers were forced to quickly cross the river as fast as they could to move to higher and safer ground!
Adopt this Easement