Out of over 200 people at the Paradise Theater on Jan. 7 discussing the Bear Ranch land exchange, I was the only one who could have told everyone about the Jumbo Mountain access. My property shares the access road.
If I had prepared a presentation against the land exchange, it would have been much like the one presented by Bear Ranch. I would have had a Power Point showing what a good steward of the land we have been. Like Bear Ranch, I would have also complained about wildlife poaching in my area. (Maybe we all need better wildlife management.) I couldn't, though, say we were a cattle ranch with special stock. Stover's cattle got on my place once last year and gnawed on some old bales, does that count?
But, as far as this being a presentation supporting a man's application to make a public land exchange, none of these issues was applicable, nor is the number of people employed on his ranch or coal mines applicable.
What is applicable is the access to Jumbo Mountain — that is apparently the predominant issue that gleaned our county commissioners' approval of the land exchange. I hate to burst their bubble, but this access should never be for motorized vehicles. Trails go east and west and would provide an ATV about 15 to 20 minutes of ride in each direction. East, the trail only goes to the Whistling Acres headquarters. West, it goes to above Anita's. Once that is over, there is nothing, like a forest, to keep an ATV on the trail. Tearing up these foothills would be an environmental disaster.
Motorized vehicles would affect the quality of life up and down the Minnesota Creek Valley. Sounds and voices carry better from the hillsides into the valley than they do from the road in front of our house.
The area being accessed is south facing. Except on dry summer days the area will be a mud fest. This is not an "access to Jumbo Mountain" as you imagine it. You would still have to get up from your sitting position and climb straight up to access Jumbo.
Most important, after Aug. 12 this may only be an access to oil and gas leases and will be closed if development occurs there. There are five (almost 1/4th of the North Fork proposed leases) running on the north and south of the valley all the way up to the split to Minnesota Reservoir. We're pretty much covered and don't appreciate people and commissioners from Delta and Cedaredge piping up with their opinions. When land swaps and oil wells jeopardize their homes and way of life, they can have an opinion.
I call for the county commissioners to rescind their hasty approval of the land exchange. In lieu of public outcry I would like to see the county commissioners write a second letter and decline from taking either side on the land exchange. Just let it go.
I invite folks from throughout the county to come and experience this access for yourselves. It is your right to access public lands and this is a traditional access.
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