Open Space Protection

Open Space and Trails acquires lands to protect the scenic beauty, natural habitat, backcountry character and recreational opportunities of Summit County. Properties acquired by Summit County as open space are managed to protect their natural resource values while allowing for sustainable access and use.


To date, over 17,300 acres of open space have been protected through land acquisitions, conservation easement donations, access easements, and in partnerships with other agencies. Since 1995, Open Space and Trails has made 332 property acquisitions and worked with over 200 landowners to preserve their properties as a legacy for present and future generations.

View a complete list of open space acquisitions (pdf) the Open Space and Trails Department has completed since 1985.


The Summit County Open Space Advisory Council (OSAC) provides oversight on open space protection and makes recommendations to the Summit Board of County Commissioners on open space acquisitions and management plans.


Open space acquisitions are funded through a fraction of property tax mill levies approved by Summit County voters in 1993, 1999, 2003, 2008, and 2019 known as the Summit County Open Space Fund. The Summit County Open Space Protection Plan - the guiding document for the program - was approved in late 1996.

The program has leveraged its funds at a 3:1 ratio with contributions from Great Outdoors Colorado, partnerships with towns and donations from private landowners. In other words, every $1 of open space funding has protected $3 worth of land. Landowners are paid fair market value for their properties, ensuring efficient use of public funds and fair compensation to property owners.

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For inquiries and information about acquisitions, contact:

Jessica Forsyth, Open Space & Trails

Picture of aspen trees in fall