The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public scoping comments on a proposed action to transfer approximately 17,700 acres of federal surface and minerals and an additional 6,000 acres of federal mineral estate to the state of Colorado.
The BLM and the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners are seeking to satisfy the debt owed to the state for lands it did not receive under its Statehood Act of 1876, due to other rights or reservations encumbered the lands. The federal government owes the state approximately 9,000 acres or its equivalent value.
“The BLM worked closely with the state of Colorado to identify the acreage proposed for transfer to match the estimated value of what the owed 9,000 acres are currently worth,” said BLM Colorado State Director Jamie Connell. “We are looking forward to hearing from the public to help inform our decision.”
The acres identified for potential transfer are near or intermingled with state-owned lands in Bent, Chaffee, Custer, Dolores, Eagle, El Paso, Garfield, Grand, Huerfano, Jackson, Kiowa, Ouray, Park, Pueblo, Routt and Weld counties.
Secretary’s Order 3373, Evaluating Public Access in BLM Land Disposals and Exchanges, was one of the first orders Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed. This proposed transfer follows the guidelines of the order, 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. The BLM has identified the smallest practical parcel of occupied public land for the transfer, and determined that it will not impact access to public lands used for recreation purposes, consistent with SO 3373.
The final acreage conveyed will be determined after an environmental analysis is completed and may be less than the total acreage currently identified for transfer. If the transfer is approved, grazing lessees and permittees may continue grazing under a state authorization and any conveyance to the state will be subject to rights-of-way granted by BLM. Oil and gas leases issued will remain in effect under the terms and conditions of the leases.
Comments are most helpful if received by December 23, 2019. Additional information is available on the ePlanning project website at: go.usa.gov/xp8yU.
Written comments can be sent to the Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Office, Attn: Bruce Krickbaum, 2850 Youngfield St, Lakewood, CO 80215, or submit electronically via the ePlanning site.