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Old 02-15-2005   #1
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Lower BLue putin/take out and GOre putin land trade

Anyone have knowledge of land trade and closure of lower blue river below green mtn res put in and take out and put in for Gore... There was an article in Denver post 2 sundays ago about trade between BLM and Jones (private land owners) ??????????[/code]
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Old 02-16-2005   #2
 
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i have heard about such a thing in the works last year. didnt hear of the article or how it has progressed. all i know is he really wants to kill access. guess its time to research. could make for a long day if we had to put in at heeney to run gore. i imagine it'll be some similar deal to the sprng creek takeout. bummer!
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Old 02-16-2005   #3
 
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here is the article. doesnt look to good. this fella has way too much cash.
i can only imagine what i would do for boaters and fisherman alike if i had the stretch of river and the cash he has.


Public may get sold down river


By Charlie Meyers
Denver Post Outdoors Editor



PHOTO GALLERY

• Changing the landscape



From a certain philosophical vantage point looking down on this broad sweep of the Blue River, the proposal looks like just another of those garden-variety exchanges federal land agencies periodically make as an article of good housekeeping.

You know the kind. Bureau of Land Management swaps isolated parcels to private landowner for more manageable holdings elsewhere. Net result: a more tidy property map, fewer headaches and, presumably, a more satisfied public.

But that's where this view of the Blue changes, where this place that BLM is pondering divestment of two key public-access tracts on a major trout stream becomes clouded in a bureaucratic haze comprised of suspicion and mistrust.
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Part of the suspicion arises from the fact that the proponent of the swap and owner of the ranch is Paul Tudor Jones, who amassed a large fortune as a Wall Street commodities trader and who already has established a track record of leveraging deals with BLM advantageous to his Blue Valley Ranch.

The earlier exchange of similar property was completed in 1999, just in time for the ranch to start pressing for the current trade. This information proved one of the few useful tidbits gleaned from a telephone interview with Susan Cassel, realty specialist with the BLM district office in nearby Kremmling.

Asked certain simple facts about the matter, Cassel became increasingly defensive and vague over a recommendation that has been made into a formal document and sent to BLM headquarters in Washington, D.C., for further review.

Pressed for details of this public record, Cassel said, "It's in a proposal stage. I can't say what we get and what we won't."

Questioned further about the parcels involved, Cassel replied, "I can't say. I have other things with this job that take my time."

Such a contrary attitude on the part of a key public official pretty much covers the mistrust part.

Information from other sources reveals that the two bookend BLM tracts, each about a quarter-mile long, bracket the Blue Valley Ranch river property. The upper segment on the east side of the stream is landlocked, accessible only by floating the river.

The downstream parcel, on the west, can be reached from foot off the so-called Trough Road.

As land goes, these plots don't exactly jump off the map. But as the real estate industry keeps telling us, it's all about the location. Therein lies a tale.

The Blue Valley property - best guesses put the size at about 30,000 acres - commands a major part of the Blue River where it flows between Green Mountain Reservoir and its confluence with the Colorado River.

With his associates, Jones manages the ranch in part for guests who pay handsomely to fish for large trout planted there. Some of the fish occasionally stray to this public access, where they can be caught by the great unwashed.

But that's just the start. What nettles Jones most is that these parcels serve as way stations for rafters who launch at the Bureau of Reclamation site below Green Mountain Dam. The ongoing feud between ranch and rafters is well documented in Grand County law enforcement files. Accusation of overzealous prosecution of trespassers abound, claims given weight by the fact that the ranch employs law enforcement officers who moonlight as off-duty patrolmen.

By swapping out these vexing access points, Jones eliminates these rest stops and turns the float into a roughly 15-mile marathon.

With every barter, some value must be given. The ranch proposes to acquire and transfer title to a parcel along the east bank of the Blue where it joins the Colorado. But this worth must be gauged against the fact that the current owner, Jim Yust, has allowed public fishing all along. Further, anglers classify this as "frog water," too slow moving to rank as a prime fishery.

As another carrot, Jones would provide a more advantageous walk-in point to the downstream end of the 3-mile- long Bureau of Reclamation property below the dam.

BLM also would receive a tract off County Road 1 considerably west of the river suitable for big-game habitat. Cassel again declined to give details about this property, but, as one observer put it, "We've got lots more places for big game than for good trout fishing. Once that river access is gone, it's never coming back."

Under the review process, a team in Washington will examine the proposal and, if approved, send it back to Kremmling to begin an Environmental Impact Statement process and public comment period.

Here's where things get really interesting. BLM procedure provides that the proponent, Blue Valley Ranch, commissions and pays for the EIS, a bought-and-paid-for process that casts further skepticism on the equilibrium of the system. Further, angler Kevin Williams reports that on an autumn visit to one of the BLM sites, he encountered an archeologist conducting a study.

Williams said when asked whom he worked for, the man replied, "Mr. Jones." A wary observer might suspect a certain unnatural confidence on the part of the proponent, considering that the formal EIS process remains many months away.

Whether this deal already is cut and dried remains to be seen. What's more certain is that it well may stand as a litmus of BLM's resolve when it comes to a balance between power and influence vs. the public good.
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Old 04-10-2005   #4
 
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Lower Blue Land Swap



Here is the deal. Please, all of you, get involved. Call the BLM office in Kremmling. (970) 724-3000 Ask for Susan Cassel. Get your name on the mailing list with the BLM so you are kept informed of the public meetings. Show up at them and let your opinion be heard. Write to your Congressman. Let him know how you feel about it. This thing still has to go to Washington. It may look like an okay deal on paper, so we need to let them know there is another side to the story. They need to understand that there is an unfair trade in the works. The two sections Mr. Jones wishes to trade are a sage brush knob and a section of "frog water" lower on the Colorado River. This is hardly an equitable trade for the public, and let's not forget that this is OUR land in question. This is public land. Aside from the lopsided monetary value, the value of this land to the outdoor enthusiast is huge. How many of you cut your teeth in a kayak on this stretch of river? I did. I still love to get into that little canyon. It feels like home. The stakes are higher for me now. I am now a fly shop owner. I have been a fisherman for a lot longer. I am a father now. When my son is old enough, I would like to take hime kayaking in that canyon. The thing that really bothers me is the precedent for future land swaps and future land and access issues. Let's not forget the ongoing issues concerning the right to float through private lands.

If any of you have ties to American Whitewater or other paddling organizations, please post their emails, or forward this to them. I have had several attempts to inform them of this situation "not delivered" to their access people. Trout Unlimited is not taking a position on this issue on the state and national level because Mr. Jones is a large contributor. A couple of chapters are opposing it.

Get involved! Write a letter or two. It doesn't have to be really long. Just tell your Congressman where you stand on the issue, and why it is important to you and the recreationalist. Thanks.
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Old 04-10-2005   #5
 
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Yes this trade would suck if approved. This dude should not be allowed to "own" that stretch of river.

Tiny, can you make it easier for us? Names and addresses of others to write really help slackers like me take the initiatinve.
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Old 04-10-2005   #6
 
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Public Access

Has anyone tried to pass/press the public access issue to a waterway like several coastal community's have for beach access??? IE: public corridors thru private land. I am new to Colorado and do not understand how I can be told that I can not be allowed to get to the river???? I know that several states have the high water mark/public access laws that allow me to pass along/thru to a stream edge/beach to fish or boat, do we not have that here??? I understand the trespass laws that keep me from camping on private land but isn't access to a navagiable waterway overseen by the Federal Gov./Coast Guard under Navagation Laws???
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Old 04-11-2005   #7
 
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LOWER BLUE ACCESS

Dave- working on it. For now call the BLM in Kremmling. (970)724-3000

rasdoggy- Colorado is a little backwards in the area of access. I agree with you, but unfortunately the guys with the big bucks have it in their favor.... for now.
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Old 04-13-2005   #8
 
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Summit Cnty govt and parks dept favor swap

http://www.summitdaily.com/article/2...73204941087953

From the Summit Daily News on their website above

Lower Blue land swap in the works

BOB BERWYN
special to the daily
March 2, 2005

SUMMIT COUNTY - A proposed land trade in the Lower Blue Valley would add several significant chunks of riverfront land to the public domain in Grand County, but could also mean less public access to the Blue River in Summit County north of Heeney.

Some local anglers are opposed to the deal and are circulating a petition at fly fishing shops in the area. And while some rafters and kayakers have also expressed concern about the potential loss of one BLM parcel that is now used as a take-out spot, Summit County officials say the swap would further the county's open space goals in the area around Green Mountain Reservoir.

Several of the parcels at issue are partly or completely surrounded by the 25,000-acre Blue Valley Ranch, and the deal would enable ranch owner Paul Tudor Jones II to consolidate his land holdings along the river.

"I think there's more benefit to the public than negative," said County Commissioner Tom Long. Summit County Open Space and Trails chief Todd Robertson was also supportive of the swap, explaining that it would enable the county to "recycle" some open space money previously spent to buy land in the Green Mountain area.

While the county is preparing a letter of support for the land exchange, not everyone agrees with that assessment.

"I think we need to be adding more public access along the Blue, not taking it away," said Mitch Vogt, a guide and store manager for Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne.

Eliminating access simply increases pressure on the remaining spots, Vogt said, expressing concern that the aim of the Blue Valley Ranch is to eliminate public access from the river as it passes through the ranch.

"In my mind, Jones (the ranch owner) is trying to take the land along the river piece by piece," Vogt said. "He wants to have the ability to control floating on the river," he added.

"The way I look at it, those BLM tracts are the last places for public access between the bridge at Spring Creek Road and Trough Road," said Blue Valley Acres resident Todd Nelson. "Boaters and kayakers will have to float the entire river to the confluence, with no place to stop and rest or have a picnic."

As envisioned, the exchange involves 11 parcels of federal land totaling 1,773 acres that would go into private ownership. In return, 10 private parcels totaling 2,016 acres would go into public ownership. Four of the non-federal parcels (955 acres) are in Summit County.

The complex trade is being facilitated by Western Land Group, the same company working on an unrelated swap involving Forest Service land at Keystone and the Chihuahua town site in the Upper Snake River Basin.

The key player in the swap is the Blue Valley Ranch, owned by Paul Tudor Jones, a Connecticut-based millionaire who earned his fortune on Wall Street. Jones has developed a reputation for conservation-oriented land stewardship, recently winning an award from the Middle Park Land Trust.

Jones restored agricultural operations on parts of the Blue Valley Ranch, re-acquiring water rights that were sold by previous owners.

The trade has been in the works for four years, and the Kremmling Bureau of Land Management field office recently submitted a feasibility study to BLM experts in Washington, D.C. With a go-ahead from officials there, the trade could soon enter a public comment phase, said John Ruhs, the Kremmling-based BLM field director for the area.

Once he gets the word from agency leaders, Ruhs said he would schedule public meetings and likely prepare a draft environmental study to analyze and disclose environmental, social and economic impacts of the trade. Under a preliminary timetable outlined in a county memo, the swap could be done by the end of this year.

Ruhs said that, all in all, the trade would create more access than is lost, but acknowledged that recreational issues will be a key part of the agency's analysis. Some of the parcels that are now in public ownership are only accessible from the river, and the trade would enable more land-based access in the area from the Trough Road to the confluence of the Blue and Colorado rivers, he said.

Ruhs said, adding that, as part of the analysis process, the BLM must carefully weigh the relative values of the parcels, for example balancing the benefits of hunting access with the benefits of access for kayakers and anglers. All those interests would have a chance to weigh in with their concerns during the public process phase of the swap, he said.

Ranch manager Perry Handyside said activities on the ranch include cattle grazing, including more than 100 head of bison, as well as about 1,000 acres of cultivated hay meadows, as well as private hunting and fishing.

Additionally, the landowner has been actively practicing stewardship on the ranch, including improvements to aquatic habitat and sage grouse habitat.
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Old 04-15-2005   #9
 
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LOWER BLUE ACCESS

Jeff

Thanks for the post. It seems there is more in the works than I was led to believe. I hope more of you than Mitch from Cutthroat Angler can see what is really going on. Mr. Jones is trying to cut off access to his little part of the world. He just so happens to have the money to try to bury his real agenda in a pile of beaurocracy. Yes, he has done some very good things. If you look a little closer though, all of the good things seem to benefit his interests. I'm sure he would love it if there was no chance of seeing a raft or kayak floating through his "improvements to aquatic habitat". Will he flip out if he sees a few boaters lined up in an eddie waiting for a turn in a hole created by one of the vortex weirs he installed as part of these "improvements". This assumes we ever have the water again for a hole to form.

It comes down to access. We already have very backward river access laws without things like this going through. Look at other countries. Other US states. Some have to fight for the same things we do. Most think it is insane when they hear about our river access laws. Rivers are a public right of way.

The commissioner and trails chief from Summit County are probably right on the money with their assessment of the land to be traded for. I am not familiar with all of the parcels in question. I do, however, think it is important to keep our eye on the ball. Yes, it would be easy to get excited about new land aquisitions, but at what cost? We would be losing part of a river. Guys, look around. We are not in a metro area. It is all open space. We are not faced with providing more than just the 20 feet between houses. Sorry, I am rambling. If you care get involved.

I am still trying to find the right links Dave.

Tiny
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Old 04-30-2005   #10
 
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Just an update for you guys:
The Summit and Grand county commissioners have been asked to form an opinion to take to the BLM regarding the trade. If you don't want to loose the land then let them know that these pieces are valuable public parcels. You can find the Summit County commissioners emails here:
http://www.co.summit.co.us/profiles/cntycommiss.htm
and the Grand County here:
http://co.grand.co.us/commissi.htm
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