Forest Service eyes Mesa land sale
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The U.S. Forest Service wants to sell to the highest bidder 160 acres of public land that lies between the town of Mesa and Powderhorn ski resort, below the Grand Mesa, in far western Colorado.The property, which has Highway 65 frontage and a creek flowing through it, might be sold through the Internet auction house eBay, said Corey Wong, Forest Service public service staff officer.Officials from the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests want to take the action as part of the Congress-approved Pilot Conveyance Program to help pay for maintenance projects in the national forest.Officially, the decision to sell hasnt yet been made. A Forest Service official in the regional Lakewood office expects to make the call this spring, Wong said. If the federal agency decides to sell, the decision on how to auction it in pieces or a as single parcel will follow.Forest Supervisor Charlie Richmond said the land may be worth as much as $1.6 million. That money could be used to replace the aging regional forest office in Delta, which the agency currently rents.We may use a portion of it for seed money to build a building in Delta of our own, Richmond said. Portions of it will improve the offices we do own, like buildings in Paonia and Gunnison.The public has until late February to comment on the environmental assessment, which can be seen at the Forest Service website, http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/gmug/policy/ (under Coon Creek Administrative Site).High interest or ‘hell no’Already, interest in the property is high among real estate agents in the Mesa area.Between Powderhorn and Mesa is prime property, said Shirley Knutson, who owns and operates Front Porch Realty in Mesa with her husband, Jack. Im sure there will be a lot of people interested.Recent sales of 35-acre parcels nearby have brought between $250,000 and $350,000, she said. Of the land there, most is buildable and has incredible views, she said.We dont have very much private land to begin with. Its getting harder to come by, said Jack Knutson, who estimated the lands worth between $1 million and $1.5 million.Someone could buy the entire 160-acre parcel and subdivide it through the county planning process into parcels smaller than 35 acres, said Burt Dole of Dole & Associates Realty, also of Mesa. But that might be difficult because of opposition among the neighbors and because of the Powderhorn development plan, approved in 1986, which limits development along Highway 65.The Forest Service is still requesting public input on the sale of that property. People need to contact the Forest Service and say no or hell no or whatever comment they may have, said Dole.Dole espoused the hell-no viewpoint.Id say hell no. I really would. We dont need to be selling off our Forest Service or BLM grounds, Dole said. Funny to hear that from a Realtor. … It shouldnt be.Dole said the amount of public land should be expanding, not decreasing.A little historyIn 2002, Congress approved selling isolated Forest Service properties no longer being used and that are difficult to manage. The money must be used on backlogged maintenance of the agencys administrative buildings. Money gleaned from the sales cannot be used for recreation purposes.The 160 acres in question had been used for a ranger station in the early 1900s and then as a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp from firstname.lastname@example.org
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