Open Spaces 2017 Annual Report

A message from the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners

Dear Arapahoe County Citizens,

In 2003, and again in 2011, voters approved a countywide quarter-cent sales and use tax to support open space, trails and parks in Arapahoe County. This means for every $100 you spend in Arapahoe County, 25 cents are invested directly in the outdoors – the places you, your children and your grandchildren cherish.

An investment in the outdoors is an investment in your health and the local economy. Parks, playgrounds, trails and open spaces help keep Arapahoe County residents fit and healthy. They also attract quality businesses and high-paying jobs. Since 2003, Arapahoe County Open Spaces has completed hundreds of projects, and we are excited to announce that dozens more are underway.

In 2017 alone, we invested approximately $26 million in the outdoors. From acquiring our newest open space (the 939-acre Mule Gulch Open Space) to finalizing the Arapahoe County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (which provides a vision for how walking and bicycling will evolve in Arapahoe County), we completed meaningful projects across our communities.

But it is partnering with others that sets us apart. We couldn’t achieve all of this without our cities, towns, special districts, non-governmental organizations and outside funders. Most importantly, we couldn’t achieve all of this without you. Without public support, there would be no Arapahoe County Open Space Sales and Use Tax. Thank you for your support.

The Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners

Open Space Accomplishments


Totals do not include projects funded by the 50% of Open Space tax funds directly shared back to cities and towns.

Investing in Community

Heritage Areas

Heritage Areas

Arapahoe County has two designated heritage areas that provide opportunities to volunteer and connect with our Open Spaces program. We invite you to join in the action. Visit www.arapahoegov.com/openspaces to learn more.

Arapahoe County Fairgrounds and Park The Fairgrounds Event Center welcomed 66,760 visitors for events outside of the County Fair. This was a 22% increase over 2016. 21,048 fairgoers participated in an extraordinary event that included carnival rides, 4-H events, competitions and other western heritage experiences.

17 Mile House Farm Park 575 elementary school children and over 1,440 open house visitors experienced the natural wonder of Cherry Creek and historic wealth of the Smoky Hill Trail. The annual Fall Festival brought out 4,865 visitors. Arapahoe County was awarded $200,000 from the History Colorado State Historical Fund to stabilize and preserve the historic 17 Mile House Barn.

Natural Resources Management

Natural Resources Management

The program cares for more than 5,000 acres of open spaces, community parks, trail corridors and land along rivers and streams. We also hold conservation easements on more than 3,400 acres. Our operations team works diligently to manage the county’s diverse natural resources while providing residents with quality recreational and educational experiences.

In 2017, we treated 175 acres for noxious weeds, planted more than 600 wetland plants and restored 24 acres of pasture and shortgrass prairie. In partnership with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, we completed natural resource inventories of five key open space properties that will guide future management decisions. Volunteers enjoyed the 17 Mile House Farm Park while collecting native plant seeds that will be used in future restoration efforts – a great example of citizen science in action.

On Arapahoe County’s eastern plains, we continue to build robust partnerships that will help further the area’s agricultural heritage. By leasing Kiowa Creek South, Richmil Ranch and Bijou Basin Open Spaces for agricultural production, we are able to work hand in hand with local farmers and ranchers to efficiently steward the properties and support the local economy.

Taking Action in 2017

In 2017, Arapahoe County invested $26.2 million in local parks, trails and open spaces. Of this amount, $13.1 million was directly shared back to cities and towns and $3.5 million was awarded to cities, towns and recreation districts through a competitive grants program.

Explore Arapahoe County Trails Map

This map highlights the vast network of biking and walking trails across the County which are yours to discover and enjoy. Visit www.arapahoegov.com/ExploreArapahoe to learn more. Now, go outside and explore Arapahoe County.

Thanks for joining us to learn more about Arapahoe County Open Spaces.

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