I would like to respond to the editorial in the June 29 Steamboat Today.
The Emerald Mountain Partnership has decided unfairly who can buy these parcels of BLM land and whose parcels of BLM were excluded from the trade. Case in point -- you say the Emerald Mountain Partnership let individuals owning more than 50 percent or the majority of the bordering property have first shot at the land. But in one instance in the Big Valley Ranch subdivision, two landowners who border it on the majority say they were never contacted.
Also, ask this question: why was the Sleeping Giant parcel of BLM land that is adjacent to a parcel that Routt County commissioner and Emerald Mountain Partnership committee member Doug Monger owns a portion of, not included in the land exchange? The partnership says that the Sleeping Giant has a community value and a scenic quality to it. Yet less than a mile away, a 975-acre parcel of BLM land is on the list.
You say 4,000 acres of land with public access. This is incorrect. It is more than 6,800 acres with public access.
Ben Beall of the Emerald Mountain Partnership said anything less than 40 acres is a "no-brainer, that you cannot do anything on that." Is that a true statement? Look at all the parks in and around Steamboat Springs. They are less than 40 acres and look at all the activities people in the Steamboat area do on these little tracts of land. It's open space. You can camp, hike and ride your motorcycle or hunt.
Beall makes it sound as if 40 acres is nothing. Maybe to him. But the majority of people can do a lot on 40 acres.
The Emerald Mountain Partnership will push the idea that Emerald Mountain will be a multiuse piece of land. But will Steamboat bicycle riders want to share their trails with people on four-wheelers and motorcycles? Will cross-country skiers want to share it with people on snowmobiles?
The public is strapped for places to hunt. If you are lucky, you can put in for the lottery and might win the right to hunt on Emerald Mountain. In contrast, you can walk on any one of these 6,800 acres of public land and hunt.
Out of the 19,000 acres proposed for the swap, more than 55 percent will go to seven individuals, and only a few are residents of Routt County. The rest live in nearby counties or states. So not only is the Emerald Mountain Partnership taking away our public lands, most of the land is going to people who do not reside in our county.
The State Land Board will pick up more than 5,400 acres in this trade. That land might as well be private. It will have limited access and no recreational use. The BLM lands that we have used historically for recreation and access will be gone. And then the State Land Board can dispose of these parcels whenever it needs money for schools or if a landowner would like to buy one of these pieces.
What upsets me the most is losing 6,800 acres of public access. Where are our children and grandchildren going to go for hunting and recreation in the future? Emerald Mountain basically has little or no use for people outside of Steamboat. The children in the outlying communities do not have the recreational opportunities that children in Steamboat have within walking distance. And what little areas we have are being taken away from us.
The Emerald Mountain Partnership has painted this rosy picture that Emerald Mountain will benefit all. This is not true. Residents from as far away as Yampa, Oak Creek, Clark and Hayden have said no. Most of these residents are just getting wind of this scheme. Just in the past few months the light of day has been shed on this issue, thanks to the efforts of our group of concerned residents.
Hayden, Citizens to Save Our