Priority Area: 
Little Thompson River
Size: 
211 Acres

Description

This irrigated farm is located one mile southwest of Berthoud, just north of the Little Thompson River and adjacent to U.S. 287 on the highway's west side. The property consists of high-quality agricultural soils, with approximately 188 irrigated, 18 pasture and 5 farmstead acres. Located just north of the Larimer-Boulder county line, the property serves as a gateway to Larimer County and a doorstep to the town of Berthoud with sweeping views of Longs Peak and the Front Range mountains. The property contains several historic features, including a pioneer gravesite, beet shack and big red barn that can be seen for miles. The Overland Trail once crossed the property.

The farm was purchased with its valuable water, including 240 shares of Colorado-Big Thompson (C-BT), 16 shares of Handy Ditch and 20 shares of Dry Creek Lateral Ditch water. Through a water-sharing partnership, or Alternative Transfer Method, the property will remain in active production as a farm with a water partner sharing some of the water during drought years.

The property is leased for farming. Larimer County acquired it to conserve its agricultural, historic, scenic, community separator and educational values. Public access is not allowed at this time, except for public tours, but there is potential for future agricultural education on the property.

Property Information

Type of Acquisition #Acres Property
Value
Partnerships
Bargain Sales
Donations
Date
Acquired
Public
Access
Fee Simple 211 $ 1,700,000 land, minerals and infrastructure
$ 6,880,000 water rights
Larimer Co. - $ 8,204,000*
Berthoud - $ 100,000
Gates Family Foundation - $ 100,000
Negotiated off appraised value - $ 176,000
2016 No

* Larimer County ultimately paid $4,382,000 for the land, minerals, infrastructure and water after the ATM water transaction closed in August 2017. See below for ATM water transaction details.

ATM Water Transaction

Type of Water #Units Paid to Larimer Co. Terms
C-BT 80 Broomfield - $ 832,000 ATM units available to Broomfield 3 out of 10 years
C-BT 115 Broomfield - $ 2,938,250
CWCB* ATM Grant - $ 51,750
Sold to Broomfield, subject to first right of refusal to lease back to Larimer Co. when available

* Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB)

Water-Sharing Partnership

In August 2017, Larimer County and the City and County of Broomfield entered into an agreement, outlined in the chart above, on the farm's water with the goals of:

  • Larimer County conserving a viable, irrigated farm in perpetuity and offsetting the costs to purchase the farm and its water through piloting a water-sharing agreement with a municipal water provider.
  • Broomfield securing a portion of dependable water supply for its growing population and acquiring a reliable supply of drought, drought-recovery and emergency water at a lower impact, reduced cost and less maintenance compared to acquiring water rights outright.

This alternative to buy-and-dry of farmland, or an Alternative Transfer Method (ATM), is promoted in the 2015 Colorado Water Plan as a means of addressing the predicted water supply gap in Colorado without drying up farmland. This is Colorado's first perpetual agricultural-to-municipal ATM project.

Current Water Portfolio on the Farm

Type of Water #Units/Shares Conditions
C-BT 125 45 units owned by Larimer Co.; 80 units owned by Larimer Co. but can be used by Broomfield 3 out of 10 years with a $225/unit rental fee
Handy Ditch 16 Owned by Larimer Co.
Handy Ditch 8 Leased by Larimer Co.
Dry Creek Lateral Ditch 20 Owned by Larimer Co.

Stewardship and Water Viability Plans

This farm, comprising 211 acres, is located in the Little Thompson River Priority Area, one mile southwest of Berthoud and just north of the Little Thompson River. It was purchased by Larimer County for its agricultural, historic, scenic, community separator and educational values.

The complete Little Thompson Farm Stewardship Plan and Farm and Water Viability Plan can be accessed here.