Garfield County BLM parcel could help satisfy century-old land debt
The Bureau of Land Management is considering transferring up to 17,700 acres of public lands that Colorado didn’t receive when it became a state over 140 years ago.
One 267-acre parcel of BLM land in Garfield County, between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, is being considered in the transfer.
When Colorado became a state in 1875, about 9,000 acres of land within the state boundaries had been already allocated to Indian Reservation, Forest Service, or other designation, so the state didn’t gain access to that land.
The BLM is now ready to satisfy that “land debt” through a transfer to the state.
It’s unclear exactly how much land will be transferred to the state after the environmental assessment.
“It’s not acre for acre. It would be based on the estimated value that it’s worth today,” BLM spokesperson Kate Miyamoto said.
“The number of acres that we’re proposing isn’t necessarily what would be transferred,” Miyamoto said.
Right now, the BLM is asking for public comment on the potential impacts of transferring public lands to the state as part of a 21-day scoping process. The comment period closes Dec. 23.
In addition to concerns the public raises in the scoping process, the BLM will look at the effects the proposed transfer might have on the rights of way, grazing leases, wildlife habitats, and historic and cultural properties if federal protections are removed.
The Garfield County parcel, which sits to the west between Ironbridge and Aspen Glen neighborhoods, is surrounded by ranch land and subdivisions, and does not appear to provide access to larger public lands.
There are no active mineral leases on the parcel, but the transfer would maintain rights of way and oil and gas leases, Miyamoto said.
“Any conveyance to the state is subject to the rights of way granted to the BLM. Any oil and gas leases issued would remain in effect under the terms and conditions,” Miyamoto said.
The parcel does have active grazing allotments, which Miyamoto said wouldn’t be affected by the transfer.
“If it is transferred, any grazing leasees and permittees would have the option to continue grazing…under state authorization,” she said.
In addition to the Garfield County parcel, the BLM is considering transferring land in Bent, Chaffee, Custer, Dolores, Eagle, El Paso, Grand, Huerfano, Jackson, Kiowa, Ouray, Park, Pueblo, Routt and Weld counties.
The Colorado State Lands Board worked with the BLM to identify the proposed transfer properties. The northwestern lands board representative was not immediately available for comment.
“The BLM worked closely with the state of Colorado to identify the acreage proposed for transfer to match the estimated value of what the owed 9,000 acres are currently worth,” said Jamie Connell, BLM Colorado State Director in a press release.
“We are looking forward to hearing from the public to help inform our decision.”
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