Blue Valley Ranch and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management are engaged in a process to exchange private land parcels for public lands. Once completed, the Blue Valley Land Exchange will meet several objectives established by the BLM to promote more effective natural resource management on public lands and make those lands more accessible to the public. The exchange will also create new and enhanced recreational opportunities along the Blue River for the public.
The mission of Blue Valley Ranch is conservation and agriculture. The Ranch lies adjacent to public lands along the Blue River in Grand and Summit counties. In addition, there are BLM parcels that sit within the Ranch’s boundaries. Some of those parcels are surrounded by private land and are inaccessible to the public. Additionally, there are public lands that are not accessible to the public because entry would require crossing private property. Once completed, the proposed exchange will consolidate both public and private lands so the BLM and Blue Valley Ranch can better manage them.
The Blue Valley Land Exchange will create new and improved opportunities for public access to both the river and adjacent land. As part of the land exchange, Blue Valley Ranch has proposed creating the Confluence Recreation Area near the confluence of the Blue and Colorado Rivers (insert link to Confluence Recreation Area page). Under the exchange, the ranch will also improve the seasonal take-out and rest stop at Spring Creek Bridge, and create a brand new rest stop, the Pump Station Rest Stop, farther downstream (insert link to rest stops page.) The Blue Valley Land Exchange also guarantees the preservation of Green Mountain (insert link to Green Mountain page).
You will find detailed information regarding the Blue Valley Land Exchange and much more on this website, including a video below highlighting the benefits of the Land Exchange.
Thank you for your interest in the proposed Blue Valley Ranch Exchange.
VIDEO - BLUE VALLEY LAND EXCHANGE
KNOW THE FACTS ABOUT THE EXCHANGE.
Blue Valley Ranch (“BVR”) and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) have worked together to create a fair and mutually beneficial land exchange. Under the proposed exchange, nine parcels of Federal land managed by BLM totaling 1,489 acres will be traded to BVR in exchange for nine parcels of private land totaling 1,830 acres to be conveyed to the public.
This exchange meets the planning and management objectives of the BLM to promote more effective natural resource management on public lands. For BVR and the Federal Government, the land exchange creates boundaries that make the management of both public and private land more effective and efficient.
BVR has committed to greatly expanding and improving public access to the Blue River, as well as expanding upland recreational opportunities for the public. This expanded public access would be paid for by BVR and include:
- Creation of the Confluence Recreation Area that will include a picnic area, walking trails, a take-out for river floaters, wheelchair-accessible fishing access and significant fishery habitat enhancements to this stretch of the Blue River.
- Improvement of the seasonal take-out and rest stop at the Spring Creek Road Bridge.
- Creation of a new rest stop, the Pump Station Rest Stop, downstream from the Spring Creek Road Bridge Stop.
- Providing a fishing easement on Ranch lands for pedestrians connecting existing BLM and National Forest lands immediately west of Parcel 10.
- Establishment of the Green Mountain Trailhead.
Anglers will enjoy greater access to the Blue River under the exchange. The public will gain walk-in access to 1.65 miles of the Blue River in Green Mountain Canyon. To be fair, there is a small trade off. The public will no longer be able to scramble down a steep embankment to access 0.3 mile of the river (BLM Parcel I) near Trough Road.
There is more good news for anglers. Under the land exchange, there will be close to two miles of additional access near the confluence of the Lower Blue and the Colorado River. This access will be a feature of the Confluence Recreation Area, a project that will provide a sorely needed recreational feature that will benefit families. There will be substantial stream improvements to a stretch of the river here to enhance fish habitat, making it much more productive trout water. In addition to the stream improvements, the construction of trails, picnic areas, a floater takeout, and wheelchair accessible fishing platforms on the river will benefit families and provide the disabled with fishing access that is not available anywhere else on the Blue River.
When the exchange is completed, hunters will enjoy a net gain of approximately 2,394 acres of land available for hunting. This total includes 480 acres of BLM land that was previously inaccessible and 1280 acres of BLM land with very difficult access. The exchange provides sage grouse habitat, deer and elk habitat and critical winter range and riparian areas. All the new public land will have good public access.
Blue Valley Ranch has an excellent record for conservation and wildlife management. Wildlife and conservation practices on the ranch have resulted in improved stream and big game habitat, and sage grouse priority habitat on the ranch and land adjacent to the ranch.
Blue Valley Ranch is dedicated to preserving the open space and vistas of the Lower Blue Valley. There are no plans to develop any portion of the ranch, including the parcels added through the exchange. Blue Valley Ranch is committed to maintaining the property in its natural state as a working ranch and as wildlife habitat. The mission of Blue Valley Ranch is agriculture and conservation.
For more than 20 years, Blue Valley Ranch has worked hard to be a good neighbor and make a positive impact on Grand and Summit Counties. The Ranch has approached the BLM land exchange with the same philosophy. As in previous projects, BVR is committed to a positive outcome for both parties that represents the shared values of the greater community. For example, the Ranch’s conservation and community involvement philosophy was demonstrated by the instrumental role it played in completing the State Highway 9, Colorado River South Wildlife and Safety Improvement Project, which has dramatically reduced the number of vehicle and wildlife incidents on the road.
BLUE VALLEY RANCH PARCEL VIEW
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What does the public get out of the exchange? Why should I support the land exchange?
A. This is a good land exchange for everyone.
- The land exchange is a once in a lifetime chance to preserve the open landscape jewel that is Green Mountain.
- Blue Valley Ranch is offering to create the Confluence Recreation Area with recreational features that will enhance the community’s enjoyment of the Lower Blue River at the confluence of the Blue and Colorado River near Kremmling. Significant fishery habitat improvements to over three-quarters of a mile of river will take place as part of the Confluence Recreation Area.
- The land exchange opens access the public has never had to over a mile of the Lower Blue River through Green Mountain Canyon.
- The land exchange provides for a permanent, improved rest stop and takeout at Spring Creek Bridge, and establishes a new rest stop, the Pump Station Rest Stop, approximately three miles downstream from Spring Creek Bridge.
- Hunters gain access to nearly 3,000 acres of excellent big game habitat.
- The land exchange will consolidate public and private lands which will t facilitate more effective conservation and wildlife management.
- The land exchange will create new and improved public access to recreation that will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Q: What does Blue Valley Ranch get out of this exchange?
A. The primary mission of the Ranch is conservation. Conservation of wildlife and ecosystems has been proven to be more successful on a landscape scale. Consolidation of ranch lands separated by isolated federal in-holdings will allow landscape scale conservation and will enhance the Ranch’s ability to effectively manage wildlife, water, and land. It is important to remember that the Blue Valley Ranch is only trying to consolidate holdings within its existing footprint.
Q: Blue Valley Ranch says the goal of the land exchange is to consolidate land ownership patterns. If that’s true, why are the 40 acres directly west of Parcel 10 not included in the exchange? Why does the Ranch insist on keeping this little piece of land? It would give the public greater access to the Blue River if it were included in the exchange.
A. The Ranch is an agricultural operation. Retaining this small parcel is vital to the agricultural operation because it is the location of two major river diversions which provide valuable water BVR ranching operations.
Q. Why won’t the Ranch agree to allow floaters to put-in at the Spring Creek Road Bridge?
A. The previous owners, a long-time ranching family, and now Blue Valley Ranch, have never allowed this location to be used as a put-in, although it has historically been used as a take-out and rest stop at the discretion of the Ranch. However, kayakers and other river users have asked for the permanent legal right to use the Ranch’s land as a take-out and rest-stop. The Ranch is agreeing to make this a permanent take-out and rest-stop when the exchange closes. The Ranch will also provide a seasonal toilet, picnic tables and expand the parking area. In addition, the Ranch will create another rest stop, the Pump Station Rest Stop, approximately three miles downstream from Spring Creek Bridge for floaters.
Q. Some people have objected to the inclusion of Parcel I in the land exchange. Why should people who like to fish this one-third of a mile section of river give it up?
A. The land exchange is good for everyone who likes to fish. Fishermen will get much more than what they give up.
- In Green Mountain Canyon, fishermen gain 1.65 miles of access that was never before available or very difficult to access. And Green Mountain Canyon has a healthy brown trout fishery.
- Near the Confluence of the Blue and Colorado Rivers, Blue Valley Ranch is proposing significant fishery habitat improvements to approximately three-quarters of a mile of the Blue River at the proposed Confluence Recreation Area. The benefits of those river habitat improvements will enhance the fishery upstream and downstream all the way to the confluence of the Blue and Colorado. In addition to the improvements to fishery habitat, the Confluence Recreation Area will provide much easier access than Parcel I.
- Altogether, the Blue Valley Land Exchange will provide the public a net gain of approximately 2.3 miles of greatly enhanced fishing opportunity.
Q. You say you aren’t trying to shut down access to the river with the land exchange. How do we know you won’t try to restrict access to the river once you get what you want?
A. Blue Valley Ranch has never tried to stop people from using the river legally, and the land exchange will increase access to the Lower Blue River. It opens 1.65 miles of the river in Green Mountain Canyon that had no walk-in access. There will be a 2 miles of enhanced fishery habitat and access at the Confluence Recreation Area. And the land exchange will establish a permanent rest-stop and take-out for kayakers and floaters at the Spring Creek Bridge as well as the new Pump Station Rest Stop downstream from Spring Creek Bridge. It will also create a new and improved take-out at the Confluence Recreation Area, which will be created as part of the land exchange. If the Ranch’s goal was to restrict access to the Blue, it would not be spending over $2million on these improvements. The land exchange is good for people who want to enjoy the Lower Blue River because it creates improved access to the river.
Q. How about putting a conservation easement on the ranch?
A. A conservation easement is far beyond the scope of this land exchange. It is not what is being considered here. The only issue being considered is the exchange of land between a private ranch and the public. And the benefits are overwhelmingly in the public’s favor. The Blue Valley Land Exchange is designed with the long term interests of the public in mind: ensuring Green Mountain is in public ownership to preserve its natural state; consolidating land and river access to allow public access to over one mile of river in the lower Green Mountain Canyon; consolidating land and river access in the Confluence Area and adding public use features such as river habitat improvements, trails, a new and improved take-out for floaters, and wheel chair access for fishing. The public benefits from the proposed land exchange make a compelling case for its approval.
Q. Isn’t Blue Valley’s ultimate intent to lock up the river and stop floating? What would prevent the ranch from trying to stop floaters from using the Blue River through the ranch? Why shouldn’t there be a requirement that the public’s right to float be a condition of the land exchange?
A. The public’s ability to float the river is not affected in anyway by the land exchange because there will be no change in land ownership that could affect floating. The Ranch has never interfered with lawful floating. As part of the land exchange, a permanent Spring Creek rest area and take out and the new Pump Station Rest Stop will be provided, along with a new and improved take out as part of the Confluence Recreation Area. This makes clear the Ranch has no intent to interfere with lawful floating.
Send comments you’d like to share with Blue Valley Ranch on the land exchange.
The Kremmling Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management has additional information on the Blue Valley Land Exchange at their website.