• By Albert Depew

Open Space Division

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The Open Space Program was created by the Quality of Life Initiative, or Question 18, passed by Carson City voters in 1996. The Quality of Life Initiative included the acquisition, development and maintenance of parks, opens space, trails and recreation facilities through an increase in the sales tax rate of ¼ of 1 percent. Forty percent of the funds are designated for the Open Space Program, which currently results in approximately $1 million in annual revenue. The Open Space Program does not operate on any revenue from the General Fund.

Since its inception, the Open Space Program has acquired 21+ properties plus one 40-year open space protection agreement and one conservation easement (the land remains privately-owned but there are restrictions on development). Two properties were donated to the program. Additional lands were acquired through a lands exchange with the federal government, both the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

The Open Space Program currently manages approximately 6,940 acres. 


Carson City Municipal Code:

Chapter 13.06 of the Carson City Municipal Code provides a descriptive summary of the program:

“Generally, lands acquired with open space funds shall be preserved and managed in a near natural condition. Such lands might include scenic vistas, wetlands, streams, floodplains, trail corridors, agricultural lands, highly visible natural areas along major streets and open space buffers. Open space land will generally be open for passive recreation improvements developed where appropriate and environmentally compatible. Examples of compatible passive recreation include hiking, bicycling, equestrian trail uses, nature study, interpretive facilities, wildlife habitat, fishing and photography, or similar compatible uses. Development of traditional, active recreational facilities, such as athletic fields, swimming pools, and tennis courts are precluded.”


A Few Facts:

  • The first purchase was the Moffat Open Space, completed in 2000 and consisting of 18 acres. It is located on the east side of town between Fairview Drive, Hells Bells Road, and Lepire Drive.
  • The most recent acquisition was in 2015 and was the land conveyance from the Bureau of Land Management. The lands included the Ambrose Carson River Natural Area, Prison Hill Recreation Area and the Silver Saddle Ranch consisting of approximately 3,590 acres.
  • The smallest property is the Fulstone Wetlands, consisting of 8.6 acres and located on Northridge Drive, just across the street from the Boys and Girls Club and Carson City's Multi-Purpose Athletic Complex.
  • The largest property is the Prison HIll Recreation Area, consisting of approximately 2,500 acres.


Open Space Advisory Committee

Open Space Plan

Open Space Properties


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