Valle Seco LEX Environmental Assessment Comments Submitted

COWPL submitted comments on the proposed Valle Seco Land Exchange near Pagosa Springs for the October 5 deadline. See the comments here and here.

Buffalo Horn LEX Appraisal Comments Submitted

We received and analyzed the appraisals for the private and public lands in the proposed land exchange. COWPL’s analysis determined that the appraisals for the private and the federal lands have been treated differently and inconsistently, particularly the question of access. In addition, parcels C1 and F5 are undervalued. These are a few highlights from our report.

  • The appraisal instructions incorrectly create an aggregated “larger parcel”. COWPL’s analysis shows that the criteria for creating a “larger parcel” are not met in this case. The sizes and values of parcels C1 and F5 are considerably greater than the other parcels and merit separate appraisals.
  • Provide the rationale for calculating the value or amount of land that is owed by the Colorado BLM to the State of Colorado today.
  • The appraisals over-emphasize the value of motorized access to properties in the exchange, inappropriately discounting the value of the federal lands and over-valuing the non-federal parcels. Several of the 16 selected comparable sales share similar access to C1 and F5 and support buyers’ willingness to acquire these properties at market prices.

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San Juan National Forest – Proposed Roadless Area Boundary Modification

The Forest Service proposes to modify the South San Juan Adjacent Roadless Area and Turkey Creek Roadless Area boundaries, in the San Juan National Forest, to remove 176 acres of federal land to be conveyed to non-federal parties for the proposed Valle Seco land exchange. Removing lands from the Colorado Roadless Area designation would increase fragmentation and remove protection.

There is a 90-day public notice and opportunity to comment from publication of notice. Comments are due in early February 2020, addressed to Becca Smith, San Juan National Forest, PO Box 310, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147 or via email to rebecca.smith@usda.gov.

Proposed Land Transfer from the BLM to the Colorado State Land Board

COWPL has submitted comments for the scoping phase of the proposed transfer by the BLM of approximately 17,700 acres of federal surface/federal mineral estate, and an additional 6,000 acres of federal mineral estate only, in 16 counties, to the Colorado State Land Board. The Federal government want to settle a historic debt for 9,900 acres. Comments submitted will inform the next phase of the BLM’s NEPA process. The BLM identified preliminary issues through internal scoping. Our comments addressed those issues as well as:

  • Increase public outreach and provide further information.
  • Provide the rationale for calculating the value or amount of land that is owed by the Colorado BLM to the State of Colorado today.
  • In a statewide project, parcel specific information can be overlooked. Provide in-depth analysis of the natural and cultural attributes, and existing and proposed uses, of each of the parcels under consideration.

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Valle Seco Scoping Comments Submitted

COWPL has submitted comments on the proposed Valle Seco Land Exchange. Comments will inform the next phase of the Forest’s NEPA analysis of the proposal. COWPL identified a range of topics including the following:

  • Public access, recreation and natural and cultural values need further analysis.
  • Mitigation and management techniques should be described.
  • Current land appraisals of the properties should be made available to the public and future appraisals should utilize multiple techniques to fully consider the value of the lands.
  • Include detailed analysis of alternatives to "The Proposed Action" and "No Action".

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Valle Seco Comments Due Dec. 13

The SJNF is soliciting input to inform their environmental analysis of this proposed exchange that will document potential impacts to the physical, human, and biological environment.

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Appeal Of BLM-Wexner Land Swap Near Carbondale In Judge's Hands

A court case challenging the exchange of public lands on the lower slopes of Mount Sopris to a private landholder for the Sutey Ranch north of Carbondale is in a judge's hands.

Colorado Wild Public Lands Inc. made its final argument Aug. 20 to try to convince a federal judge to nullify the land swap by the Bureau of Land Management with Leslie and Abigail Wexner. The judge's decision could come any day.

Read the full article by Scott Condon in the November 4 issue of the Aspen Times.

Sutey Management Plan Environmental Assessment Comments Due Nov. 5

The Sutey Management Plan Environmental Assessment comments are due today, Monday November 5. The BLM's preferred Alternative 1 provides the most wildlife protection and that is the alternative we are encouraging the Agency to implement.

Email your comments to blm_co_sutey_haines_rmpa@blm.gov or mail to BLM, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652, Attn: Sutey/Haines Management Plan.

See COWPL's letter at: Sutey EA Response 110118