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Summit County to buy 910 Cattle Ranch

Sep 14, 2023 11:52AM ● By Linda Petersen

Summit County has plans to purchase the 910 Cattle Ranch north of Jeremy Ranch. On Aug. 24 the Summit County Council unanimously approved a three-year option agreement to acquire the 8,587.7- acre ranch. Approximately 1,800 of that acreage is in Morgan County.

Under the option agreement, which includes a $15 million option fee, Summit County will pay the owner, the David W. Bernolfo Memorial Foundation, a $5,000 per month lease payment while it works out how to fund the purchase. The agreement gives Summit County the right to extend the option for another year for an additional $5 million. This gives the county four years to come up with the $55 million purchase price of the property.  All option fees and lease payments will be put toward the final purchase price.

The initial $15 million will come from a $50 million Open Space GO Bond approved by Summit County residents in 2021. The GO bond was presented to voters as a way for Summit County to purchase passive and active open space, conservation easements and construct recreational amenities. The bond also pays for environmental and wildlife mitigation measures and related improvements. The county will be seeking federal grants and considering other options to fund the remainder of the purchase of the 910 Cattle Ranch.

“The 910 Cattle Ranch is remarkable in its beauty and ecological diversity and holds great promise for a wide variety of uses that embody the diverse values of Summit County residents, including conservation, preservation of wildlife habitat, protection and management of an important wildland environment, public recreation, agriculture, educational and research opportunities,” Summit County Council Chair Roger Armstrong said in a statement. “We are grateful for the property owner’s dedication to conserve this land and its wild inhabitants and allowing Summit County to do so.”

While Summit County will obtain immediate control of the property, the area will remain private property to allow for comprehensive planning. No hunting will be allowed on the land. Recreators will still be able to use the East Canyon dirt road for walking, hiking and biking.

Over the next year, Summit County will determine the best use for the land, but county officials have already made it clear it will not be used for residential or commercial development. Instead, public access will be allowed in some kind of phased plan. 

The 910 is one of the last contiguous mountain ranches privately held by a single landowner in western Summit County and the Snyderville Basin area. David Bernolfo has owned the property and run it as an active cattle ranch for 30 years but is now seeking to retire. He will retain possession of his home and other buildings on the property until the county exercises its option to purchase the land. Recreators will still be able to use the East Canyon dirt road for walking, hiking and biking.

“The property size and its connectivity to other protected lands is truly incredible,” Summit County Lands and Natural Resources Director Jess Kirby said in a statement. “This is a rare opportunity—a once-in-a-lifetime property. It is a legacy parcel for our community and a dream come true.”λ

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