Monday, March 06, 2006

[puma-news] Fw: [nature-net] USFS Secure Rural Schools Land Sales Initiative

This commetary is preliminary. From Dave Hallock of the County Open Space
research and management...Dave has worked alongside PUMA on many previous
projects. He is a top notch scientist and intelligent analyst. Below are
his initial comments regarding the Forest Service proposed land sales --
PUMA should study this as a way to build our own commentary. By the way,
the previous email regarding the map of land sales still has some
innaccuracies and problems, due mostly to inaccuracies and inconsistencies
in FS data. On that map web page are some additional comments regarding
this proposed sale. Letters, call, emails and faxes should start to go out
from willing participants and PUMA as a whole by the end of this week.
Here's a preliminary list of contacts for those who would like to get
started.

Their numbers are:
Senator Wayne Allard
Washington D.C. telephone 202-224-5941
District telephone 303-220-7414

Senator Ken Salazar
Washington D.C. telephone 202-224-5852
District telephone 303-455-7600

Rep. Mark Udall
Washington D.C telephone 202-225-2161
District Office telephone 303-650-7820

Comments on the proposed list must be received by March 30 and may be sent
by e-mail to SRS_Land_Sales@fs.fed.us. Written comments may be sent to: USDA
Forest Service, SRS Comments, Lands 4S, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Mailstop
1124, Washington, DC, 20250-0003. Send faxed comments to (202) 205-1604.

Hallock's letter below.
Scott
******************************
Scott Campbell Reuman
Artist/Writer
Conundrum Designs, Inc.
Nederland, CO
http://www.conundrumdesigns.com
scottreuman@conundrumdesigns.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "David H Hallock" <eldoradh@rmi.net>
To: "BCNA Nature Net" <nature-net@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Friday, March 03, 2006 7:30 AM
Subject: [nature-net] USFS Secure Rural Schools Land Sales Initiative

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Secure Rural Schools Land Sales Initiative in Boulder County

These are my initial comments on the proposed land sale in Boulder County.
I have focused on land use issues.

Dave Hallock

Background

The Forest Service is seeking comments from all interested individuals and
organizations on the list of National Forest System land parcels in the FY
2007 President's Budget proposal to be sold for the purpose of funding
payments to Secure rural Schools. These funds will be used to offset
declining revenues that historically were derived from timber sales.

Comments should be submitted by March 30, 2006. They should pertain to the
list of land parcels proposed for sale. Comments should be submitted by
e-mail to SRS_Land_Sales@fs.fed.us, by facsimile to (202) 205-1604, or by
mail to USDA Forest Service, SRS Comments, Lands 4S, 1400 Independence Ave.,
SW., Mailstop 1124, Washington, DC 20520-0003. Electronic submission is
preferred.

Additional information about the Secure Rural Schools Land Sales Initiative
can be found at: http://www.fs.fed.us/land/staff/disposal.html. For maps of
the lands proposed for sale, go to:
http://www.fs.fed.us/land/staff/rural_schools.shtml. Go into
Geocommunicator.gov for the maps. (Note: the Geocommunicator.gov map site
had been problematic in correctly running and pulling up the maps).

Land Sales Initiative in Boulder County

The parcels proposed for sale in Boulder County lie within 10 geographic
areas, which I have used for description below. The spreadsheet list of
parcels on the USFS web site totals approximately 2,120 acres, while the map
indicates approximately 3,120 acres. And, there are some discrepancies on
the list between the legal descriptions and the acreages.

The overall justification for selling these parcels by the Forest Service is
that they are isolated from other contiguous National Forest System lands,
and because of their location, size, or configuration are not efficient to
manage as a component of the National Forest System. The isolation and
small size for some of the parcels appears true, but not for all.

My greatest concern is that there appears to be no recognition of the
conservation context of the parcels. When you look at all conserved lands
in western Boulder County, including Boulder County Open Space and other
private conservation easements (including some held by Colorado Open Lands
and The Nature Conservancy), then these parcels appear isolated and small
only in terms of ownership but not in terms of function. Some of the
parcels border Caribou Ranch Open Space, Reynolds Ranch Open Space, and Hall
Ranch Open Space. Some of the parcels are adjacent to lands with
conservation easements, such as Arapaho Ranch Wildlife Preserve and the
Welch Ranch. In some places, Boulder County Open Space has been filling in
the gaps between smaller parcels of Forest Service Land by purchasing the
intervening mining claims, such as on Spencer Mountain in Eldora and in
Lefthand Canyon. Two of the parcels have the Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway
running through them, including one in Allenspark. Several parcels along
Magnolia Road are important wildlife movement corridors as are parcels near
the top of Spencer and Ute Mountains near Eldora. One group of parcels
appears to contain golden eagle nest sites and is popular for rock climbing
in Boulder Canyon. Another parcel contains a portion of the South St. Vrain
Creek and a portion of the South St. Vrain trail. Several of the parcels
near Nederland contain trails.

The result of this land sale is an increased fragmentation of the landscape.
The County and other property owners and land trusts have been filling in
the gaps within the National Forest Boundary and conserving lands; this is
good ecosystem planning This proposal creates new in-holdings within the
overall conservation context of western Boulder County; this is bad
ecosystem planning.

Additionally, the process appears very rushed. We have one month to make
comments for something that has some significant long-term land use impacts.
And it has not been easy accessing the Forest Service maps on their web
site. And there are discrepancies between the legal descriptions on the
USFS list and acreages, as well as what is presented on the maps.

What follows are geographic area descriptions of the parcels proposed for
sale, their conservation context, and some of their conservation value. The
geographic area descriptions are mine. When commenting to the Forest
Service you need to use National Forest Name (Roosevelt),
Township/Range/Section.

Magnolia Road
Township 1S Range 72W
Section 19 - 40 acres
Section 20 - 193 acres Map shows 233)
Section 21 - 160 acres
Section 40 - 40 acres (Map shows 200 acres)
Total Acreage: 473 in the list, 633 on the map

Values and Conservation Context: These lands are part of an elk/wildlife
movement corridor between Winiger Ridge and lands west of the Peak-to-Peak
Highway, and within elk winter range. They are designated as an Overland
Habitat Connector on the Environmental Conservation Areas map of the Boulder
County Comprehensive Plan. Some of the parcels (those in Sections 19, 20,
and a portion of 21) are adjacent to Reynolds Ranch Open Space and other
County Open Space acquisitions in the area. Some of the parcels in all four
sections are adjacent to other National Forest lands. The parcels in
Section 19 south of Nederland contain public trails.

Ridge Road
Township 1S Range 72W
Section 5 - 117 acres
Section 8 - 160 acres
Total Acreage: 277 acres on both list and map

Values and Conservation Context: In section 8, lands are adjacent to Rogers
Open Space and are part of the Open Corridor designation for Boulder Canyon
Highway (Boulder County Comprehensive Plan Open Space Element). Several of
the parcels in Section 5 are adjacent to USFS lands.

Caribou Ranch
Township 1N Range 73W
Section 34 - 30 acres
Section 36 - 80 acres (Map shows 160 acres)
Township 1S Range 73W
Section 1 - 20 acres
Total: 130 acres on list, 210 acres on map

Values and Conservation Context: These lands are integral parts of the
Caribou Ranch montane parkland, an area of exceptional biodiversity in
Boulder County, and winter, transitional range, and calving grounds for elk.
The lands in Sections 34 and 36 are within the Indian Peaks Environmental
Conservation Area, as designated on the Environmental Conservation Area Map
of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. The parcel in Section 34 is
totally surrounded by other conserved lands, including Boulder County Open
Space, City of Boulder, other Forest Service lands, and a conservation
easement on the only mining claim in the section. A portion of the lands in
Section 36 (E1/2 of SE ¼) is adjacent to other conserved lands (Conservation
Easement on Caribou Ranch) and other Forest Service lands. It contains an
existing trail along the Switzerland Trail railroad grade. A portion of the
lands in Section 36 (E1/2 of SE ¼) are adjacent to other conserved lands
(Caribou Ranch Conservation Easement) and are important for elk winter range
and as a movement corridor. The parcel in Section 1 is adjacent to the
Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway.

Eldora
Township 1S Range 73W
Section 20 - 20 acres (Map shows all USFS lands in Section 20, which are
approximately 300 acres)
Total: 20 acres on list, approximately 300 acres on map

Values and Conservation Context: This is part of the entrance to the Indian
Peaks Wilderness Area, so the viewshed is of importance. Boulder County
Open Space has been acquiring many of the intervening mining claims on
Spencer Mountain. The ridgeline atop Spencer and Ute Mountains is an
important wildlife movement corridor. Portions of the parcels slated for
sale are adjacent to other Forest Service lands. Lands north of Middle
Boulder Creek are within the Indian Peaks Conservation Area, as designated
on the Environmental Conservation Area Map of the Boulder County
Comprehensive Plan.

Boulder Canyon to Sugarloaf Road and Sugarloaf Road East
Township 1N Range 72W
Section 25 - 120 acres
Section 35 - 240 acres
Section 36 - 240 acres (the legal in the list does not match the acreage,
which matches the map)
Township 1N Range 71W
Section 29 - 120 acres
Total: 720 acres on both list and map

Values and Conservation Context: Sections 35 and 36 are part of the scenic
backdrop to Boulder Canyon Highway and designated as an Open Corridor on the
Open Space Plan of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. The eastern
portion of Section 36 is within potential golden eagle nesting habitat (and
within the Wildlife Closure Area). There are popular rock climbing areas in
Section 36 (Security Risk). Portions of the parcels in Sections 35 and 36
are adjacent to Boulder Falls Open Space and within the Boulder Falls
Natural Area, as designated within the Boulder County Environmental
Resources Element of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan.

Nederland
Township 1S Range 73W
Section 14 - 40 acres (Map shows 120 acres)
Total: 40 acres on list, 120 acres on Map

Values and Conservation Context: The NE ¼ of the SE ¼ of Section 14 is
adjacent to and functionally part of the Arapaho Ranch Wildlife Preserve, a
montane parkland that has exceptional biodiversity. The Arapaho Ranch is
under a conservation easement with Colorado Open Lands. Elk use the area as
transitional range and for calving. The parcel provides a buffer between
the Town of Nederland and the Arapaho Ranch. The parcel is designated
within the Indian Peaks Environmental Conservation Area on the Environmental
Resources Map of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan.

Lefthand Canyon
Township 1N Range 72W
Section 1 - 240 acres
Total: 240 acres on list and map

Values and Conservation Context: Portions of these parcels are adjacent to
other National Forest lands on their north and west sides. Boulder County
Open Space has purchased almost all the mining claims within Section 1, as
well as other lands to the east and south. Lefthand Canyon is designated as
an Open Corridor on the Open Space Map of the Boulder County Comprehensive
Plan. Lands north of Lefthand Canyon Road are designated as part of the
Walker Mountain Environmental Conservation Area, as designated on the
Environmental Conservation Area Map in the Boulder County Comprehensive
Plan.

Overland Road and South St. Vrain
Township 2N Range 72W
Section 20 - 40 acres
Section 21 - 40 acres (80 acres are shown on the map)
Section 29 - 40 acres
Section 30 - 40 acres
Total: 160 acres on list, 200 acres on map

Values and Conservation Context: The parcel in Section 20 is adjacent to the
Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway and is also adjacent to conservation easement
lands held by Boulder County and The Nature Conservancy. The South St.
Vrain Creek flows through the northwest corner of the parcel, designated as
an Open Corridor on the Open Space Map the Boulder County Comprehensive
Plan. The two parcels in Section 21 are adjacent to Conservation Easement
held by The Nature Conservancy. The Peak-to Peak Scenic Byway runs through
the parcel in Section 29. The parcel in Section 30 contains a portion of
the South St. Vrain Creek, designated as an Open Corridor on the Open Space
Map of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan; this parcel also contains the
beginning of the South St. Vrain trail.

Allenspark
Township 3N Range 73W
Section 26 - 40 acres (120 acres shown on the map)
Total: 40 acres on list, 120 acres on map

Values and Conservation Context: The Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway passes
through one of the parcels in Section 26. The parcel in the SE ¼ of the SW
¼ is adjacent to other National Forest lands.

Coffintop Mountain
Township 3N Range 71W
Section 21 - 40 acres (360 acres are shown on the map)
Total: 40 acres on list, 360 acres on map

Values and Conservation Context: These are some of the most important
ecological lands in Boulder County, being within the North St. Vrain
Ecological Conservation Area (Ecological Conservation Area Map, Boulder
County Comprehensive Plan), and designated as Core Habitat in the Forest
Plan. These lands are adjacent to Hall Ranch Open Space and Riverside Ranch
Open Space, and are adjacent to other National Forest lands on their south
side. This is habitat for bighorn sheep.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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