Buffalo Horn, BLM try for land exchange again

New preferred alternative would transfer 2,815 federal acres for 1,835 private acres

RBC | More than 50 people, primarily landowners and outdoorsmen, shared their concerns about the initial draft of a proposed land exchange between Buffalo Horn Properties, Inc., and the Bureau of Land Management in 2017. Their comments, almost entirely in opposition to the exchange, prompted BLM to revise the proposal, and the agency is again seeking public comment on the new preliminary environmental assessment (EA).
In 2008, Buffalo Horn approached BLM about a land exchange involving private land parcels in the Indian Valley and Smith Gulch areas and BLM parcels in the Strawberry Creek area. The current EA involves three alternatives for consideration:
– Alternative A is the original proposal, in which BLM would acquire three parcels totaling 4,036 acres in exchange for 16 isolated parcels totaling 3,806 acres,
– Alternative B (preferred) would transfer 2,815 acres of Federal lands in Rio Blanco and Moffat counties for one non-Federal RBC parcel totaling 1,835 acres. According to a press release, “The BLM modified the proposal for this alternative to address concerns heard during public scoping about existing hunting access on public parcels and existing surface use agreements on private land.” Under the preferred alternative, the proposed exchange would result in an increase of 1,976.17 acres of private land in Moffat County and an increase of 996.93 acres of public land in Rio Blanco County.
– Alternative C: no exchange of lands.
According to David Boyd, BLM public affairs specialist, the more specific comments received the more effectively BLM can determine if the proposal is in the public benefit.
“Small isolated parcels are difficult for us to manage,” Boyd said. “We would gain access to area that would allow more public access to BLM land.”
Hunters who commented during the first public scoping process are concerned that some of the parcels Buffalo Horn would gain are prime hunting areas.
“If the exchange does go thru they will control the ridge tops, main water sources and key access points that the public now has the opportunity to use. In my mind it is a win-win situation for the Buffalo Horn and once again the public suffers at the hands of a big money corporation,” wrote on Meeker commenter.
Another commenter wrote, “This proposal is a win, win situation for Buffalo Ranch and a LOSE, LOSE situation for public and wildlife. The gains for the land exchange are against the best interest of the wildlife. It appears to let Buffalo Ranch control over more BLM property for their hunters. The wildlife areas need to take priority over any land exchange. It is not the people’s obligation to make more money for Buffalo Ranch.”
Others expressed concerns about the exchange triggering increased ATV use in prime hunting areas and the disparity in value for the land being exchanged.
“The BLM will only go forward with a land exchange if it is in the public’s interest, and public involvement is a key piece of determining public interest,” said BLM White River Field Manager Kent Walter in the press release. To that end, there will be a public open house on May 23 from 5:30-7 p.m. to provide information and accept written comment.
BLM will accept public comments through June 6. Comments may be submitted via email to blm_co_wrfo_bhlex@blm.gov or mailed to BLM WRFO, Land Exchange Comments, 220 E. Market St., Meeker, CO 81641.
Documentation for the proposed exchange can be viewed at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId=101837

1 Comment

  1. This proposed land exchange in option B is requested by Buffalo Horn Ranch to improve hunting on their property. In the exchange the balance of about 1000 acres of prime hunting on public lands would be removed to private control. This proposal is not serving the sportsmen and the public in large but the owners of Buffalo Horn Ranch
    Please contact the BLM and vote for option C.

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