Conservation in perpetuity of more than 700 acres surrounding Buckley Air Force Base
Arapahoe County Open Spaces (ACOS) is recognizing a group of partners—including nonprofits, local, state and federal government agencies—for coming together to purchase and protect in perpetuity more than 700 acres of land surrounding Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. These Buckley Air Force Base Buffer Project partners are the recipients of the County’s 2020 Our Progress Takes Flight Award, which is presented annually in recognition of outstanding stewardship in conservation and protection of the great outdoors.
The stakeholder group on the multiyear project, led by Buckley Air Force Base and the City of Aurora, also includes The Trust for Public Land, Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Great Outdoors Colorado, and Arapahoe County. The project was completed in 2019, and more than $20 million in local, state and federal funds were leveraged.
As a result of the project, land in the buffer zone won’t be developed in the future and provides a protected corridor for open space, wildlife habitat and future trails. The buffer also ensures the long-term viability of base operations, including Air Force and Colorado Air National Guard flight missions, training, and use of radar and navigation systems.
“It's a win-win, benefiting our community, our regional economy, and our environment,” said Bill Holen, Arapahoe County Commissioner representing District 5, which includes portions of Aurora. “Now more than ever, as we continue to see so much growth and expansion across Arapahoe County, it’s critical that projects like this protect our open spaces for conservation and recreation opportunities—and continue to enhance our quality of life across Arapahoe County. It’s also critical that we support our Base neighbors in their flight, aerospace and national security missions and training efforts.”
Aurora At-Large Council Member Dave Gruber agrees. “Buckley Air Force Base is a major driver of our region’s economy, contributing more than $1 billion annually and thousands of jobs to the area,” Gruber said. “This award affirms the extraordinary power of partnerships in accomplishing great things.”
“Our community partners here in Aurora are top-notch and second to none,” said Colonel Devin Pepper, Garrison Commander, Buckley Air Force Base. “This buffer project was critical to ensuring that all stakeholders involved maximized that space to preserve untouched, undeveloped land for wildlife and future trails, but to also increase our mission effectiveness here at Buckley, and we couldn’t be happier to see it through.”
The Buckley Air Force Base Buffer Project, along with dozens of other countywide park, trail and open space projects each year, are supported by the voter-approved, quarter-cent Arapahoe County Open Space Sales and Use Tax, which will be up for reauthorization in 2021. The County is also seeking public input to craft a vision for the future of its Open Spaces program. Learn more at www.arapahoegov.com/osmasterplan.