Steamboat Springs Legal notice goes out today for anyone interested in making a bid to acquire about 6,400 acres of Emerald Mountain near Steamboat Springs.
The State Land Board has at least one bid already: from the residents of Routt County who make up the Emerald Mountain Partnership.
Right now the State Land Board, which manages the land under a trust, has agreed to let the Partnership act as a broker. The partnership will have the right to buy and sell the land during the next five years, as long as it brings in about $17 million.
But for the next 30 days, the State Land Board will accept comments from the public and will consider alternate proposals to acquire the property.
"I guess I'll be surprised if someone does come forward" with another bid, Partnership board member Jim Ficke said.
"There's so much money floating around these days, you never know," Ficke said.
The Partnership wants to keep Emerald Mountain as an agricultural and wildlife preserve while allowing recreational use as well. Emerald Mountain is the western backdrop for Steamboat Springs.
The State Land Board said if no one responds with a better bid, the Partnership will take over the land.
The final decision will be made at a State Land Board meeting on Nov. 17 in Denver.
In the meantime, Ficke said the Partnership board hasn't really actively looked for a buyer yet. Ideally, the Partnership wants a "gentleman rancher" who is conservation-minded.
"If a buyer walked in today and said we'd put it (Emerald Mountain) in a land trust, we'd be delighted," Ficke said.
Keeping the land under this kind of conservation easement would mean a big tax break for the owner, because the property would lose value without the potential for development.
The 6,400 acres on Emerald Mountain are part of the state's 3 million acres of trust lands. Under the state constitution, the State Land Board manages the land for the purpose of providing income for public schools.
Emerald Mountain currently brings in about $40,000 a year by leasing grazing land to ranchers. The State Land Board said it would be in the best interest of the public schools to sell the valuable land instead of leasing it.
To reach Frances Hohl call 871-4208