The BLM has issued their Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Blue Valley Ranch Land Exchange on July 2. The proposal would privatize almost 15 miles of Blue River-front in exchange for a river park near Kremmling and a hiking access near Green Mountain Reservoir. Only a single public access would remain along this 15-mile stretch of the Blue River, a gold medal trout stream. 1,489 acres of BLM-managed land would be conveyed from Federal ownership to the Blue Valley Ranch in exchange for 1,832 acres of non-Federal lands. The BLM has also prepared another alternative for evaluation as part of the FEIS. Please take a moment to let the BLM know that you have concerns and are not in support of the exchange. Comments are due by August 2, 2021.
On June 2018, COWPL submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Later, we used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain the information we'd requested. In 2019, we received the information, including appraisals of valuations of federal and non-federal land proposed for exchange, and a refund for our attorney fees! We submitted further comments here.
On January 14, 2021 the BLM issued their decision to approve a land exchange with Buffalo Horn Properties, LLC to convey 14 parcels of Federal lands in Rio Blanco and Moffat Counties, aggregating 2,652 acres, and to acquire one parcel of non-Federal lands of 1,327.06 acres. COWPL previously submitted comments on the project’s Preliminary Environmental Assessment in 2018 and later on the land appraisals. COWPL filed a protest, prepared by attorneys, Hogan Lovells, on March 8, 2021.
The heart of this proposal is whether the BLM is gaining hunting grounds that are equal in quality to those they are trading away. This exchange would also reduce the grazing rights of several local family ranches. Read more and listen here.
The Valle Seco proposed land exchange is located in the Pagosa Ranger District, San Juan National Forest. The proposal by a group of private proponents is to exchange one private parcel of 880 acres for 10 federally owned parcels totaling 452 acres. The federal parcels include land within designated roadless areas. More info here.
On April 29, 2021, the District noticed an opportunity to comment on the Colorado Roadless Area Boundary Modification. The Forest Service proposes to modify the South San Juan Adjacent, Turkey Creek, and Winter Hills/Serviceberry Mountain Colorado Roadless Area (CRA) boundaries on the San Juan National Forest to remove Federal land for the Valle Seco 2019 Land Exchange and to add acres to the Winter Hills/Serviceberry Mountain CRA. There is a 90-day opportunity to comment. Comments may be submitted electronically here.
The BLM completed the Sutey Ranch land exchange in 2017. Following that, COWPL submitted a lawsuit, prepared by COWPL's attorney. The Federal District Court Judge issued a decision in favor of the BLM in March 2021. See here. In April 2021, COWPL filed a Motion to Reconsider whether the BLM followed the rules and acted in the public interest when it approved the land exchange. See here.