Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Land Swap In Progress

The U.S. Forest Service has formally launched the public process of a land swap in the county. The trade involves several federal parcels, including the Dercum Dash property just east of the River Run Gondola. That parcel has preliminary zoning approval for 24 single-family homes, subject to completion of the land exchange.

The other National Forest lands that would go to private ownership are the Claimjumper and Wedge parcels near the town of Breckenridge. Breckenridge wants to use the lower part of the land, along Airport Road, to expand its affordable housing supply. The upper part would be managed as open space.

The Wedge parcel is a key piece of open space near Cucumber Gulch that will help preserve habitat connectivity from the wetlands in the gulch to nearby upland forest areas.

The key private tract in the deal is the Chihuahua town site along Peru Creek. Keystone-area developer Gary Miller owns the town site along with several partners. He has been trying to trade it for the federal owned Dercum Dash parcel for several years.

In a prepared statement announcing the exchange, the Forest Service said acquisition of the Chihuahua town site is the primary purpose of the deal. The parcel has a diversity of habitats, high quality wetlands and is also a key piece of land for recreation in the Snake River Basin. The Forest Service also cited Chihuahua’s historical significance as a motivation for the trade, with federal ownership “enhancing management” of the parcel and consolidating federal land ownership patterns in the area.

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