March 22, 2012

Forest Service Acquires Backcountry Parcels

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, CO – The White River National Forest (WRNF) has been instrumental in a recent environmental analysis that allows the San Juan National Forest to acquire 407 acres of private land in remote areas of La Plata and Dolores Counties.  The exchange is for 53 acres of National Forest lands deeded to the Town of Breckenridge in Summit County. Federal acquisition of these two isolated private inholdings protects backcountry locations from future development and allow for their use and enjoyment by the general public.  Such actions must provide the greatest benefits to the public to proceed.

Acreage to be added to the public domain includes the 160-acre Mitchell Lakes parcel in La Plata County and 247-acre Flattop Mountain parcel in Dolores County. These two parcels were acquired by the Trust for Public Lands in 2011.  “Our goal in acquiring these parcels is to protect them from development that could impact public values on the surrounding National Forest lands,” said Tim Wohlgenant, Colorado Director for TPL.  “We are excited to help make these properties available for public use and enjoyment.”

In exchange, two federal parcels were conveyed to the Town of Breckenridge, including a 36-acre “Claimjumper Parcel” surrounded by residential development and a 17-acre “Cucumber Gulch Wedge Parcel” just west of town adjacent to a community sensitive wetlands area. Portions of the Claimjumper Parcel are proposed to be developed for attainable housing units as an extension of the adjoining Pinewood Village housing development.  Attainable housing is seen by the local community as one of the biggest challenges facing Breckenridge and Summit County as a whole. Land to develop attainable housing projects is limited. The upper portions of the parcel include key town trails, including the Pence Miller Ditch, and provide a scenic backdrop for the town. The Cucumber Gulch Wedge will be added to the town’s Cucumber Gulch Preserve to protect wildlife habitat and wetlands.

The exchange was facilitated by Western Land Group, Inc., a private consulting firm which specializes in public and non-profit land transactions.

For more information, contact Paul Semmer, White River National Forest, 970-262-3448; Tim Wohlgenant, The Trust for Public Land, 303-837-1414; or Todd Robertson, Western Land Group, 303-715-3570.

White River National Park, CO

Flat Top Mountain, CO