The Bureau of Land Management is hosting an open house on June 13 in Aspen to provide information, and answer questions about the controversial Sutey Ranch land exchange proposal.
The public is invited to stop by anytime from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Aspen City Hall Sister Cities Meeting Room, located at 130 S. Galena St.
The BLM held a similar open house meeting May 31 in Carbondale and has scheduled this second open house at the request of Pitkin County.
“We selected Carbondale because of its proximity to the parcels proposed in the exchange,” said BLM Colorado River Valley Field Manager Steve Bennett in a statement. “We appreciate the interest in also hosting an open house meeting in Pitkin County to provide information and accept written comment.”
BLM is accepting written comments through June 20. The public will have a second opportunity to comment when the detailed Environmental Assessment is released, which is anticipated this fall. A final decision on the proposal is expected in 2013.
Maps and details about the potential land exchange, which is being facilitated by Western Land Group, are available at www.blm.gov/co/crvfo .
Under the proposal, the BLM would acquire the 557-acre Sutey Ranch adjacent to the Red Hill Special Recreation Area in Garfield County, including the historic water rights from the ranch. The BLM would receive 112 acres in Pitkin County along Prince Creek Road adjacent to The Crown area. This private parcel is a highly popular area with mountain bikers and is used to access BLM roads and trails, according to government officials.
The BLM would exchange three parcels totaling 1,269 acres in Pitkin County south of Carbondale that are mostly surrounded by private land and are difficult for the public to access. These parcels would be transferred to the Two Shoes Ranch, owned by Leslie Wexner, CEO of Limted Brands, who proposed the exchange.
In Eagle County, BLM would exchange three parcels totaling 201 acres on Horse Mountain southwest of Eagle, which have limited public access. This parcel would be transferred to the Lady Belle Ranch.
Conservation easements, to prevent development from occurring on the lands that would become private, would be placed simultaneously at closing by Two Shoes Ranch and Lady Belle Ranch. BLM also would receive a $1.1 million donation from Wexner — $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.
“BLM will only go forward with a land exchange if it is in the public’s interest,” Bennett said.
BLM will take a broad range of interests into account as part of its detailed evaluation process and is looking for specific concerns or issues from the public, according to officials. The more specific the feedback, the more effective it will be.
“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.
Written comments will be accepted at the open house. Comments also can be emailed 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 your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment — including your personal identifying information — may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.