Proposed Sutey Ranch Land Exchange
The final Environmental Assessment and Notice of Decision were released June 20, 2014, initiating a 45-day protest period. The decision is to move forward with the proposed land exchange, but the exchange will not take place until the 45-day protest period ends and any protests received are resolved.
What is being proposed?
Under this proposed land exchange, the public would acquire:
- The 557-acre Sutey Ranch adjacent to the popular Red Hill Special Recreation Area in Garfield County, including the historic water shares from the ranch.
- 112 acres in Pitkin County along Prince Creek Road near the Crown. This private parcel is a highly popular area with mountain bikers and is used to access BLM roads and trails.
- A $100,000 donation from the proponents to develop a site-specific management plan for the newly acquired land
- A $1 million donation from the proponents for the long-term management of the newly acquired land
BLM would exchange:
- Three parcels totaling 1,269 acres in Pitkin County south of Carbondale. These parcels are mostly or entirely surrounded by private land and extremely difficult for the public to access. They receive little to no public use.
- Three parcels totaling 201 acres on Horse Mountain southwest of Eagle which have little public access.
Questions and Answers
Who is proposing this exchange?
The proposed exchange is being facilitated by Western Land Group. The Pitkin County parcels that would become private land would be acquired by the Two Shoes Ranch, which largely surrounds the parcels. The Eagle County parcel would be acquired by the Lady Belle Partnership L.L.L.P.
All lands that would become private under this proposal would carry a conservation easement protecting them from future development.
Why isn’t the acreage being exchanged the same?
Land exchanges are conducted on a value-for-value basis, not an acre-for-acre. This is because the value of land varies greatly based on its location and development potential. See appraisal information above.
Because the land appraisals actual show the public will be getting land with a much higher appraisal value than will be exchanged, the proponents are donating 235 acres (valued at $2.24 million) of the 668 acres that the public will acquire.
How does the December 2012 agreement between Pitkin County and the proponents of this land exchange affect this proposed exchange?
The Pitkin County and the proponents reached an agreement separate from the proposal BLM is evaluating. We are continuing to evalutate the proposal as described above. You can read more about the agreement between Pitkin County and the proponents here.
How did BLM evaluate this proposal?
The environmental assessment analyzes the values traded for the values acquired. This includes detailed surveys for rare plants and wildlife, cultural resources, and hazardous materials on all the lands involved. The lands were appraised for their monetary value as well. BLM follows a detailed process for proposed land exchanges. The ultimate question that must be satisfied is whether the exchange is in the public’s benefit. Public comment is a critical piece of evaluating whether the exchange is a benefit to the public.
When would the exchange be completed and closed?
The exchange would be completed following the 45-day protest period and resolution of any protests received.
How would BLM manage the newly acquired lands?
BLM would develop a site-specific management plan for these lands if they were acquired. Public participation would be a key part of developing that management plan.
How will BLM use the donation money?
$100,000 would specifically be donated to develop the site-specific management plan. BLM is exploring options for how to manage the $1 million donation to ensure the best return for the public and management of the area.
Why does BLM consider these types of land exchanges?
BLM considers opportunities to exchange these difficult-to-manage areas for areas that would potentially offer more benefit to the public. The long, extensive process to evaluate such proposals is in place to ensure land exchanges that are approved are indeed in the public’s interest.