native grasses

​​Thornton Agricultural Stewardship

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Agricultural Stewardship Office

The City of Thornton Agricultural Stewardship Office is charged with the responsible planning and management associated with the city's ownership of 18,751 acres of agricultural property in Larimer and Weld Counties.  In addition to the land, Thornton owns 65 houses that are also leased to local residents.  The Agricultural Stewardship Office is located on the city's Buckeye Farm at 16754 CR 84, Ault, CO 80610.

the agricultural stewardship office


In 1985 and 1986 the city of Thornton purchased farm land in Larimer and Weld counties and the water rights associated with the farms.  The water rights will provide Thornton's long-range supply of municipal water.  Thornton successfully obtained Colorado Water Court approval that changed the water rights from agricultural uses to municipal uses on March 9, 1998.  The Water Court decree imposed requirements that prior to municipal conversion of the water rights, Thornton must establish one or more of the following: revegetate the formerly irrigated land with native grasses or other suitable self-sustaining ground cover, dryland farming, or suitable non-agricultural uses. The decree also requires that Thornton must meet these requirements before the associated water can be moved to the city and used as a municipal water supply. Thornton is also required by the decree to construct several recharge facilities, return flow structures, and other ancillary facilities.  Thornton intends to begin delivering water to Thornton for municipal use beginning in 2025.


Approximately two-thirds of the land owned by Thornton remains in agricultural production and is leased to local farmers.  These farms will stay in irrigated agriculture until the water is needed for municipal use in Thornton.

The other one-third of Thornton owned land was converted to native grasslands.  This conversion to native grasslands is called the Thornton Revegetation Program.  Thornton coordinates with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to have the grass assessed and once it meets standards it is certified as established self-sustaining native grassland. 


When Thornton originally purchased the farms in 1985 and 1986 there were numerous farm houses that came with the purchase of the farms.  Thornton still owns 65 houses and they are leased to local residents. The majority of the houses that Thornton currently owns are located in Weld County and are leased to Weld County residents.  The Agricultural Stewardship Office manages the leases for these houses.  Contact the Agricultural Stewardship office at 970-834-278 to inquire about availability of the houses. Rental house applications are available to download from this web page.