High Country Citizens' Alliance (HCCA) in Gunnison County and NFRIA-WSERC Conservation Center (NWCC) have sent letters to the Colorado congressional delegation asking them to withhold submittal of a bill on behalf of the proposed Bear Ranch Land Exchange until access to public lands and other issues are resolved. Western Colorado Congress (WCC) has voted to also send a letter. All letters have similar objections.
In its letter to Sen. Mark Udall, HCCA states, "Hikers, hunters, fishermen and other recreationists stand to lose more access to public lands from this proposed land exchange than they would gain. The new access to the Ragged Mountains proposed by Bear Ranch is of inferior quality to the entrance currently available at County Road 2. The recreating public loses an outstanding approach into prime public lands, offset with an easement of inferior quality through the privately held Buck Creek Ranch. Fishermen would lose entry to several segments of Anthracite Creek, Deep Creek and Snowshoe Creek, as well as the lakes and streams in the Ragged Mountains Wilderness. Hunters would lose access to outstanding elk and mule deer hunting on public lands."
HCCA and NWCC are opposed to the proposed parallel trail on the western slopes of the Ragged Mountains.
All three organizations raised objections about the decision being made by Congress rather than an administrative process for the land exchange.The letter would require a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis.
NWCC reports that robo calls are being received by citizens in the North Fork Valley about the land exchange. The automated call surveys people about their opinions of the land exchange while also explaining the potential benefits.
The robo calls are reportedly from Elkhurst Communications in Louisville.
Gretchen and Robin Nicholoff received their robo call last Sunday at dinner time. "This was clearly a push pull type of poll," Gretchen said. It was a long survey. One of the questions asked if the respondent would be more in favor of the land exchange if it would protect sage grouse habitat.
The Nicholoffs' opinion of the land exchange was not changed by taking the survey. "We were just sort of fascinated by it because it was a long phone call. It wasn't cheap to do that kind of a poll," Gretchen said.
Bear Ranch and Western Land Group have previously stated that they want to have a land exchange bill introduced in Congress by the first quarter of this year.blog comments powered by Disqus