BLM hosts open house on Sutey land exchange | AspenTimes.com

BLM hosts open house on Sutey land exchange

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The Bureau of Land Management will host a public open house Thursday in Carbondale to provide information and answer questions about the proposed Sutey Ranch land exchange.

The public is invited to stop by anytime from 4 to 8 p.m. at Carbondale Town Hall, 511 Colorado Ave.

The BLM is accepting written comments on the exchange through June 20. Go to http://www.blm.gov/co/crvfo for maps and details.

Under the proposal, the BLM would acquire the 557-acre Sutey Ranch adjacent to the Red Hill Special Recreation Area in Garfield County, north of Carbondale, including the historic water rights from the ranch. The BLM would also receive 112 acres in Pitkin County along Prince Creek Road – a private parcel that is used by the public to access BLM roads and trails on the Crown, a popular recreation area.

The BLM would exchange three parcels totaling 1,269 acres in Pitkin County south of Carbondale, on the flank of Mount Sopris, that are mostly surrounded by private land and, according to the agency, difficult for the public to access. These parcels would be transferred to the Two Shoes Ranch, owned by Leslie and Abigail Wexner. In Eagle County, BLM would exchange three parcels totaling 201 acres on Horse Mountain southwest of Eagle. The parcels have limited public access, according to the agency, and would be transferred to the Lady Belle Ranch.

Conservation easements that would prevent development on the lands that would become private would be placed simultaneously at closing by Two Shoes Ranch and Lady Belle Ranch. The BLM would also receive a $1.1 million donation from the Wexners – $100,000 to cover BLM’s cost to develop a site-specific management plan for the newly acquired parcels, and $1 million for their long-term management.

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“BLM will only go forward with a land exchange if it is in the public’s interest,” said Steve Bennett, BLM Colorado River Valley field manager, in a prepared statement. “We’ll take a broad range of interests into account as part of our detailed evaluation process, and we need to hear about any specific concerns or issues. The more specific the feedback, the more effective it will be.”

After the public comment period closes, BLM will begin an environmental assessment of the proposal. A final decision is currently expected in 2013.

“It’s important to remember that BLM land exchanges are evaluated based on the value of the lands involved – they are not straight acre-for-acre exchanges,” Bennett said in the statement.

Written comments will be accepted at the open house. Comments can also be e-mailed to BLM_CO_SI_CRVFO_Webmail@blm.gov or mailed to: BLM, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652, Attn: Sutey Ranch Land Exchange.

Before including an address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in a comment, citizens should be aware that their entire comment – including personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While a person can, in their comment, ask the BLM to withhold personal identifying information from public review, the agency cannot guarantee that it will do so.