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Last updated 1:30PM ET
July 21, 2018
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Hermosa Land Exchange Heats Up!
(2007-06-25)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Emotions are running high among developers, environmentalists and recreationists, over a proposed Forest Service land swap north of Durango.
A 60-day public comment period is now underway on what's come to be known as the Hermosa Land Exchange.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

ISENSEE: IT'S QUIET IN THE MORNING, VERY LITTLE TRAFFIC, LOTS OF WILDLIFE.
Patty Isensee lives near Chris Park and Haviland Lake and walks the area several times a week.
She was among about 2-dozen people attending a forest service open house Thursday at Durango Mountain Resort.
ISENSEE: IT'S A PLEASURE, IT'S JUST VERY NICE NOT TO HAVE THE DEVELOPMENT IN SUCH A BEAUTIFUL AREA.
Developers of the Glacier Club, south of Chris Park and East of Highway 550 want 265 acres of Forest Service land just south of Chris Park, to expand.
In return, they'll give the forest service 320 acres in two separate parcels west of 550.
The two developable parcels are among the last pieces of property known as "inholdings" or land surrounded by public lands, in the San Juan Forest.
Isensee's husband, Chris, and others, contend the forest service land proposed to be turned over to private developers would take away a valued recreation area in the forest.
Looking at a map of the exchange, Isensee told me about his concerns.
ISENSEE: ONCE YOU GET INTO THAT CHRIS PARK AREA IT'S VERY MUCH LIKE A WILDERNESS, IT GIVES YOU A SENSE OF WILDERNESS AND IT'S THE ONLY SPOT WE KNOW OF THAT CAN GIVE YOU THAT SENSE OF WILDERNESS THAT'S THAT EASILY ACCESSIBLE.
VICTOR: HOW FAR WOULD YOU ESTIMATE IT IS FROM THIS NORTH PROPERTY LINE RIGHT HERE TO THE CAMPGROUND ITSELF WHERE THERE MIGHT BE DEVELOPMENT GETTING CLOSE TO THE CAMPGROUND?
ISENSEE: THAT'S, AHHH, WHAT WOULD THAT BE, 200 YARDS OR SO?
VICTOR: SO PEOPLE IN THE CAMPGROUND MIGHT, IF THIS IS DEVELOPED, MIGHT EITHER BE LOOKING AT A GOLF COURSE OR HOMES, 200 YARDS AWAY.
Glacier Club has identified the land as perfect for a new nine hole golf course and more homes.
Leigh Anderson, who lives in Hermosa was one of those at Thursday's open house expressing displeasure with those plans.
ANDERSON: BUT A GOLF COURSE, ABOVE ALL ELSE, WITH THE INSECTICIDES, WITH THE WATER USE, WITH THE GATED COMMUNITIES THAT WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE ACCESS TO I UNDERSTAND. IT'S AN AREA I CAN DRIVE TO IN TEN MINUTES AND FEEL LIKE I'M IN A TRUE COLORADO.
Others who dislike the trade, say a proposed road accessing the Glacier Club expansion area by crossing forest service land to the west of the property would disect several heavily used trails.
Tim Wohlgenant, the agent putting together the land swap for Glacier Club says they've already reduced the size of their expansion from 320 to 265 acres, and would be interested in making other changes to protect the area.
WOHLGENANT: THEY SCALED IT BACK VERY INTENTIONALLY BECAUSE OF CONCERNS ABOUT TRAIL USE. THERE'S BEEN, WE'VE HEARD, YOU NOW A LOT OF THE CONCERNS WE'RE JUST HEARING ABOUT NOW BUT THERE'VE BEEN OTHER ISSUES THAT HOPEFULLY WE'LL BE ABLE TO MITIGATE AS WE GO THROUGH THIS PROCESS.
Still others think taxpayers, may be getting the short end of the deal, questioning the real value of the 160 acres near the Hermosa Trailhead and 160 acres at Mitchell lakes which the forest service would receive in return.
PAGE: WELL I SEE, NO IT'S NOT REALLY A LAKE, IT'S A LITTLE BIT OF SWAMPLAND.
Bob Page is one of those who thinks its unlikely the Hermosa Trailhead and Mitchell Lake parcels could ever be developed, and engaged District Ranger Pauline Ellis in a discussion on the issue at Friday's open house.
ELLIS: THERE ARE A LOT OF RIPARIAN VALUES THERE BOB, BUT THIS IS WHAT WE WANT, FROM THE PUBLIC AND PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU BOB. WE WANT YOU TO WEIGH IN WITH VERY SPECIFIC COMMENTS.
PAGE: SPECIFICALLY I'LL BET THAT THE LAKE YOU'RE TRYING, THE PROPERTY YOU'RE TRYING TO GIVE AWAY IS WORTH OVER TWENTY TIMES PER ACRE, WHAT ANY OF THIS OTHER STUFF IS.
There's also concern some of the public is misinformed about details of the proposed land swap.
Cindy Hockelberg is a land agent with the Forest Service.
HOCKELBERG: WE HAVE HEARD THAT HAVILAND LAKE IS INVOLVED IN THE EXCHANGE AND WE WANT TO MAKE IT REAL CLEAR THAT IT'S NOT INVOLVED IN THE LAND EXCHANGE. A LOT OF THAT'S STATE PROPERTY AND ALSO WE RECOGNIZE THAT THAT'S A VERY VALUABLE RECREATION RESOURCE THAT THE PUBLIC USES, ALONG WITH CHRIS PARK CAMPGROUND.
One group called savehaviland.org, is actively opposing the land swap saying the private land would come too close to or threaten Haviland Lake.
One other thing, Hockelberg says, this is not a done deal.
HOCKELBERG: ABSOLUTELY NOT! WE HAVE NO PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS OR DECISIONS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE.
Another open house on the land swap deal takes place today at the San Juan Public Lands Center.
Comments can also be submitted by fax, email or in person to the Columbine Ranger Field Office in Bayfield, by August 10th.
It could be as long as two years before recommendations are submitted for more public input, and a decision on the land swap is final.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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