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 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 recreational features 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 land exchange will create new opportunities for public access to both the river and adjacent land. To take immediate advantage of these opportunities, Blue Valley Ranch has proposed a series of design features that it will pay for as part of the exchange. These proposed recreational design features include improvements such as: stream habitat enhancements near the confluence of the Blue and Colorado rivers with wheelchair accessible fishing access; creation of a picnic area and a walking trail; a new take-out for rafts and kayaks on the Blue River near the Colorado; a seasonal take-out and rest stop at Spring Creek Bridge on the Blue River; and a recreation trail into the lower Green Mountain Canyon north of Green Mountain Reservoir. These and other proposed features will make it possible to take advantage of the opportunities made possible by the Blue Valley Land Exchange.
There is detailed information regarding the proposed land exchange, the associated design features for recreational access, and much more on this website.
Thank you for your interest in the proposed Blue Valley Ranch 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. Before the exchange can be completed BLM must determine that the exchange is in the public interest, and appraisals prepared by the Federal government must show that the value of the exchange parcels are approximately equal.
- 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 proposed certain design features intended to provide the public enhanced access to the Blue River for a variety of recreational activities. These features would be paid for by BVR. They 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 near its confluence with the Colorado River.
- Development of a seasonal take-out and rest stop at Spring Creek Road Bridge.
- Establishment of the Green Mountain Canyon Trailhead.
- Anglers will enjoy greater access to the Lower Blue River under the exchange. In the lower (northern) Green Mountain Canyon fishermen will enjoy new and greatly enhanced access to over a mile of river with a healthy brown trout fishery. Land ownership patterns and natural barriers have historically impeded pedestrian access to this reach of the Blue. Near the confluence of the Blue and Colorado Rivers, Blue Valley Ranch is proposing significant fishery habitat improvements to a half-mile of the Blue River as part of the proposed Confluence Recreation Area. The benefits of those river habitat improvements will enhance the fishery for another mile, all the way to the confluence of the Blue and Colorado rivers. Altogether, the Blue Valley Land Exchange will provide the public a net gain of approximately 2.3 miles of greatly enhanced fishing opportunities.
- When the exchange is completed, hunters will enjoy a net gain of approximately 3,000 acres of land available for hunting. This total includes 442 acres of BLM land that was previously inaccessible and approximately 1,400 acres of public land that is currently difficult to access.
- The exchange provides for public net gains in sage grouse habitat, mule deer winter range (net gains of approximately 300 and 500 acres respectively), and riparian areas. All of the new public land created by the exchange 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 bird, fish and big game 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. The 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 that represents the shared values of the greater community. As an example, this philosophy was represented by the instrumental role the Blue Valley Ranch played in the State Highway 9, Colorado River South Wildlife and Safety Improvement Project. Work on that exciting project will be completed in 2016.
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. The land exchange opens access the public has never had to a mile of the Lower Blue River through Green Mountain Canyon, and there will be significant fishery habitat improvements to a half-mile of the Blue River as part of the proposed Confluence Recreation Area.
- The land exchange provides for a permanent rest stop and takeout at 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 in a way that will allow for more effective conservation and wildlife management.
- The land exchange will create easy 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 is the rest 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 staging area for the maintenance of two river diversions and an irrigation ditch.
Q. Why won’t the ranch agree to a put-in at the bridge at Spring Creek Road?
A. There has never been a put-in at Spring Creek Bridge. 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. Creating a put-in at Spring Creek Bridge will result in more floating traffic and congestion on the river. There is already a public put-in three miles upstream from the bridge at Green Mountain Dam.
Q. Some people have objected to Parcel I being included 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 like to fish. Fishermen will get much more than what they give up.
- In Green Mountain Canyon, fishermen gain more than 1 mile 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 a half-mile of the Blue River at the proposed Confluence Recreation Area. The benefits of those river habitat improvements will enhance the fishery for another mile, 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. Parcel I is being grandfathered into this land exchange. BLM’s Resource Management Plan says lands adjacent to a river should not be traded away. Why should it happen in this exchange?
A. The lands included in this land exchange were settled on more than ten years ago, and they were included in the exchange because they struck a balance between what was good for the public and good for the ranch. The land exchange will increase access to the Lower Blue River. It opens up a significant stretch of the river in Green Mountain Canyon that could not be accessed before or was very difficult to access. There will be 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. The land exchange is good for people who want to enjoy the Lower Blue River.
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 up more than a mile of the river in Green Mountain Canyon that could not be accessed before or was very difficult to access. There will be a mile 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. 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. The land exchange is good for people who want to enjoy the Lower Blue River because it creates improved access to the river.
Q. Everyone thought this land exchange was dead. Why is it coming back now?
A. BLM’s Kremmling Field Office put the land exchange on hold in 2007 while it finished updating its Resource Management Plan. That plan was finalized in 2015 allowing the exchange to move forward. A land exchange is a complex process, and we have understood from the beginning that it would take time. The BLM’s land exchange process will look at all aspects of the exchange and will provide for extensive public comment.
Q. Aren’t these so-called enhancements you call the Confluence Recreation Area just a way to buy support for the land exchange? Isn’t this just something you came up with because you knew the land exchange wasn’t going anywhere?
A. The Blue Valley Land Exchange is good for our community, and the Confluence Recreation Area is a good faith effort by Blue Valley Ranch to develop new opportunities for the public to enjoy the Lower Blue River. The pubic gains a piece of property close to the Colorado Headwaters National Scenic Byway and the confluence of two beautiful rivers. That property will be enhanced with recreational facilities that will make it a great place for families, people who like to fish, float and enjoy the river. Blue Valley Ranch also recognizes the exchange of Parcel I will mean a loss of access to the river for some anglers. The proposed fishery enhancements that will be a part of the Confluence Recreation Area and the additional access to the excellent fishery in the lower Green Mountain Canyon created by the land exchange compensates for that impact.
Q. The ranch may be committed to conservation now, but what happens to this land if the ranch is sold? How do we know the land won’t be developed then? 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 the ranches’ 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 through the ranch is not affected in anyway by the land exchange because there will be no change in land ownership that could affect floating. Lawful floating has always been permitted. As part of the land exchange, a permanent Spring Creek rest area and take out will be provided, as will a new and improved take out as part of the Confluence Recreation Area.
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.