native grasses

​​Thornton Agricultural Stewardship

the agricultural stewardship office

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 leased to residents. The Agricultural Stewardship Office is located on the city's Buckeye Farm at 16754 CR 84, Ault, CO 80610.


In 1985 and 1986, the city of Thornton purchased farmland 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, changing the water rights from agricultural to municipal uses on March 9, 1998. The Water Court decree imposed requirements that before municipal conversion of the water rights, Thornton must establish one or more of the following: revegetate the formerly irrigated land with native grasses or another suitable self-sustaining ground cover, dryland farming, or suitable non-agricultural uses. The decree also requires that Thornton meet these requirements before the associated water can be moved to the city and used as a municipal water supply. The decree also requires Thornton to construct several recharge facilities, return flow structures, and other ancillary facilities. Thornton intends to deliver water to Thornton for municipal use beginning in 2027.


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, numerous farmhouses came with the purchase of the farms. Thornton still owns 65 houses, and they are leased to residents. Most of Thornton's homes 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 970-834-2785 to inquire about the availability of the houses. Rental house applications are available to download from this web page.