State agency still eyeing Minturn parcels
While a federal officials consider a bill that would allow the local branch of the U.S. Forest Service to sell the base of Minturn’s Meadow Mountain, there is another factor that could affect the popular parking lot.The State Land Board contacted Forest Service officials nearly a year ago about swapping two steep, undevelopable parcels near Arrowhead, east of Edwards, for the 8.8 acres at the base of Meadow Mountain and 14 acres south of Minturn near where the Nova Guides outfitters are located. Those negotiations are ongoing, said Cal Wettstein, deputy director of the Holy Cross Ranger District.
State land board officials could not be reached for comment.Minturn residents are already concerned about a bill moving through the U.S. House of Representatives that would give local Forest Service officials the right to sell, swap or lease 16 “excess” parcels in the White River National Forest. The bill, which U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, introduced in June, identifies nine parcels in Eagle County, including the two the land board wants. Minturn officials plan to send a letter to the Forest Service voicing their opinion.”Our concern is when the federal government divests itself of these properties that the town has some say in the development of those parcels,” said Town Manager Ann Capela.
However, this swap isn’t contingent on that bill. The Forest Service may swap lands of equal value already, the agency just can’t sell the excess properties for profit, Wettstein said. McInnis’ bill gives the Forest Service the right to sell land and keep the proceeds, ostensibly to consolidate or replace administrative buildings.”(The swap) would be good for the Forest Service because it would block up some good habitat,” Wettstein said. “It also would allow the land board to trade for parcels around town that could be developable.”When the state’s land board sells property, the proceeds are used to benefit schools.”The revenue would got to school systems and (the swap) could create some more commercial space in Minturn,” he said.
Mayor Hawkeye Flaherty said town officials are reviewing their options, including the town buying the Meadow Mountain base area and leaving it as open space.”I don’t have an opinion on what to do with (those parcels) right now,” he said. “I’m still thinking about it.” Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 949-0555, ext. 607.