Forest Service seeks input on Aspen, El Jebel land sales | AspenTimes.com

Forest Service seeks input on Aspen, El Jebel land sales

Courtesy of the U.S. Forest ServiceThe areas proposed for sale on the Forest Service's Aspen property is outlined in red.

ASPEN – The public will get its chances to comment on proposals by the U.S. Forest Service to sell property in Aspen and in El Jebel.

In Aspen, the agency wants to sell about 1 acre of its administrative parcel in the West End. It is proposing to put the northeast corner of the nearly one-block site up for competitive sale on the open market or direct sale to a local government.

Federal law allows the agency to use the proceeds from the sale for the improvement or reconstruction of existing facilities or acquisition of new land. The funds raised from the sale of facilities or land in the White River National Forest will be used within the same forest.

It has been a longtime goal of the Forest Service to sell some of its Aspen land to produce the funds needed to build new facilities on the portion of the site it retains. That could include offices and a visitors center.

In El Jebel, the Forest Service is seeking feedback on a proposal to convey two connected parcels of administrative land and the associated water rights. The sale could be by competitive bid on the open market or through a direct sale to another government.

The Forest Service aims to sell the remainder of the Mount Sopris Tree Nursery, which operated between 1961 and 1986. The property was used for coniferous tree and seedling production. Roughly 130 acres of the site was traded to Eagle and Pitkin counties in a land exchange in the 1990s. Some of that land became Crown Mountain Park.

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The Forest Service retained roughly 60 acres of riparian area along a lower bench of land adjacent to the Roaring Fork River. The land is undeveloped, thick with cottonwood trees and brush and often swampy for most of the year.

Another 30 areas was kept by the agency on an upper bench along Valley Road. The upper bench includes two pastures, a storage yard, two single-family homes, a pad for a modular home and an employee bunkhouse.

The White River National Forest is considering conveying those parcels, either by competitive sale in the open market or direct sale to a local government. The open space programs of Pitkin and Eagle counties are considering buying the riparian land.

Public comments on the proposed El Jebel property conveyance must be submitted to the Forest Service by Jan. 13. Comments should be sent to Kevin Warner (see below).

scondon@aspentimes.com

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