Pitkin County mulls land swap at base of Mt. Sopris | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County mulls land swap at base of Mt. Sopris

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Proponents of a public-private land swap involving more than 2,000 acres in several counties are hoping the Pitkin County commissioners will go along with the deal when it comes up at a meeting Tuesday.

The swap revolves around two properties owned by billionaire Leslie Wexner at the base of Mount Sopris near Carbondale, now known as the Two Shoes Ranch but formerly known as the Turnbull and Jelinek parcels.

Wexner, with the help of the Western Lands Group of Denver, is trying to gain control of more than 1,200 acres, comprising two parcels owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that are situated between Wexner’s two parcels.

In a letter to Pitkin County, Andy Wiessner of the WLG maintains “the land has been under federal grazing permit to Two Shoes or its predecessors for many decades.” Wiessner also said both parcels, one less than 30 acres in size, are on the BLM’s disposal list, though only the larger parcel actually is on that list, according to Pitkin County Open Space and Trails director Dale Will.

In return for the BLM parcels, Wexner is offering mainly a 520-acre parcel known as the Sutey Ranch, which he also owns, that is next to the popular Red Hill mountain biking and hiking area just north of Carbondale.

Also a component of the deal, Wexner is offering to lock up the BLM acreage in a permanent conservation easement if he can build a single, 3,000-square-foot house with related outbuildings on the property.

There are various other aspects to the proposal, including a trade of 102 acres of U.S. Forest Service land near Marble to the Darien family. The land is to be used, according to the Wiessner memo, for a small hydro-electric generating station, and also will be placed under a conservation easement to prevent future development.

Pitkin County commissioners will be hearing about the proposal in a work session Tuesday at the Plaza One Meeting Room on Main Street in Aspen.


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