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RBC | The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking comment on a proposal to segregate six parcels of public land, totaling 400 acres in Garfield and Rio Blanco counties, from all forms of appropriation under the public land laws, including the mining laws. During the segregation period, the BLM will evaluate the parcels for suitability to offer for sale. If BLM finds that the lands are suitable for sale, it will publish another Notice of Realty Action announcing the decision to offer the land for sale.
“These small, isolated parcels are very difficult for BLM to manage, and none have legal public access,” said BLM White River Field Manager Kent Walter. “We are evaluating this proposal as part of the agency’s work to be a good neighbor.”
Two parcels totaling 200 acres are in Garfield County along the Grand Hogback about 20 miles north of Rifle, Colo. Four parcels totaling 200 acres are in Rio Blanco County in the Strawberry Creek area about five miles north of Meeker, Colo. The parcels represent less than 0.03 percent of the 1.5 million-acres of BLM lands managed by the White River Field Office.
The White River Lodge nominated the parcels for the sale. Two of the parcels, which are completely surrounded by private land owned by White River Lodge, would be offered through a direct sale to the lodge. The remaining four parcels would be offered through a modified competitive sale in which bidders are limited to adjacent landowners with legal access, which includes the White River Lodge.
Secretary’s Order 3373 (SO 3373), titled “Evaluating Public Access in BLM Land Disposals and Exchanges,” was one of the very first Secretary’s Orders Secretary Bernhardt signed. This proposal follows the guidelines of SO 3373, which directs BLM to adequately weigh public access for outdoor recreation–including hunting and fishing–when determining the appropriateness of the disposal or exchange of public lands. In following the directive of SO 3373, the BLM considered whether the sale of these parcels would restrict public access to BLM-managed lands, and determined that they would not, because the parcels are surrounded by private land without public access. Identifying lands as available for disposal or exchange is required under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.
The land would be sold for no less than the fair-market value as appraised by the Department of the Interior’s Appraisal and Valuation Services Office. White River Lodge will reimburse BLM for its staff time processing this sale. The sale would be for the surface only. The federal government would retain the mineral rights.
A description of the parcels and maps are available online at https://go.usa.gov/xQqBS. The BLM will accept public comments through March 6, 2020. Comments may be submitted by email to email@example.com or by mail to BLM WRFO, 220 East Market St., Meeker, CO 81641.
“Before we begin writing the environmental assessment of this proposal, we want to hear any issues or concerns the public would like to see addressed,” Walter said. “We value diverse viewpoints, and the most helpful comments will be specific to this proposal.”
If the BLM decides to move forward with the sale, following completion of the environmental assessment, a second Notice announcing the sale will be published at least 60 days before the sale.
Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment–including your personal identifying information–may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
Special to the Herald Times