Public input sought on draft environmental assessment for proposed Valle Seco 2019 Land Exchange Project

By Esther Godson
San Juan National Forest

The Pagosa Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest has released the draft environmental assessment for the proposed Valle Seco 2019 Land Exchange Project for public comment. 

The proposed project consists of a land exchange proposal that would exchange 10 parcels of National Forest System land containing approximately 452 acres for one parcel of non-National Forest System land containing approximately 880 acres.

Comments received during scoping helped craft the alternatives presented in the draft Environmental Assessment (EA). Impacts of the project are analyzed in the EA. The draft EA, additional information and a story map of the project can be found at the project site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=57154.

Several changes have been made to the land exchange proposal since public scoping concluded in December 2019. The nonfederal party has withdrawn non-Federal Parcel B and Federal Parcel 10 from the proposed exchange. In order to mitigate impacts to one cultural site eligible for inclusion on the National Historical Register of Historical Places (NRHP), the boundary of Federal Parcel 5 will be modified to exclude the site. Alternatives have also been added which propose additions of various amounts of land to an existing Colorado Roadless Area and options for closing and decommissioning National Forest System Road 653.

We are seeking public comments to the draft environmental assessment for the land exchange. The 30-day comment period on the draft EA begins Sept. 5.

The Forest Service encourages comments to be submitted electronically in the online comment form located at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=57154. Hard copy comments may be mailed via USPS to: Valle Seco 2019 Land Exchange EA Comments, Pagosa Ranger District, P.O. Box 310, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Hand deliveries may be made to the Pagosa District Office at 180 Pagosa St. in Pagosa Springs, by calling 264-2268 in advance and scheduling a no-contact delivery Monday through Friday excluding holidays. Comments may also be faxed to: Attn: Becca Smith, at (833) 926-2067.

For more information, please contact Pagosa Ranger District Lands Specialist Becca Smith at 264-1521 or rebecca.smith@usda.gov.

All offices on the San Juan National Forest are conducting business and providing services virtually. For information on the San Juan National Forest, call 247-4874, visit the forest website, or follow us on social media (Twitter and Facebook).

This story was posted on September 4, 2020.