Land Exchange Closes
Another project that has been in the works for a decade has also come to conclusion. The Sutey Land Exchange involves a trade between the Bureau of Land Management and private landowners. “This is great news for public lands in the Roaring Fork Valley,” said Shonna Dooman, acting field manager of the BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office. “This land exchange provides a substantial public benefit by conserving lands for wildlife, providing opportunities for recreation, and consolidating land ownership.”
The 557-acre Sutey Ranch north of Carbondale and 112-acre Haines Parcel along Prince Creek south of Carbondale are now in public hands. The parcels that became private lands through the exchange are all protected with conservation easements held by Aspen Valley Land Trust
The Sutey Ranch provides critical big game winter habitat and has the potential to provide significant recreational opportunities based on its location adjacent to the BLM’s popular Red Hill Special Recreation Management Area. Until a site-specific management plan can be developed for this area, public access will be limited to foot travel only from the north side of the Red Hill SRMA.
“While we will consider public access to this property off County Road 112 in the future, there is currently no safe place to park,” Dooman said. “Until we develop a specific management plan, no motorized or mechanized access on the Sutey Ranch or parking along County Road 112 will be permitted.”
Acquiring the Haines Parcel resolves current trespass, traffic, and safety problems on private land by providing legal and safe public access to the trail system in the popular area known as The Crown. Hundreds of mountain bikers have been riding on this parcel to access public trails for many years, despite it being private land. They can now do so without trespassing.
In addition, the proponents of the exchange have granted an additional 360 acres of conservation easements to AVLT on part of the original Two Shoes Ranch known as the Potato Bill drainage. This land is prime bighorn sheep habitat, and will be managed with input from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The proponents will also terminate 10 development rights on their ranch visible from the Crystal River Valley, and have donated $700000 to Pitkin County for a trail corridor along Prince Creek Road, and over $1 million to BLM for management of the Sutey Ranch.