Officials with the U.S. Forest Service said Friday the agency has agreed to a modified exchange of public land for
private inholdings in the San Juan National Forest.
The deal still allows Tamarron Properties Associates to expand the luxury Glacier Club development with an additional
nine holes of golf and up to 125 homes.
But instead of swapping 265 acres of public land for 330 acres of private property, the government will exchange 228
acres for 170 acres plus a check from the developer for $444,000.
The original proposal was modified because the parties failed to agree on a price for the 160-acre Mitchell Lakes
component of the land trade. The Mitchell Lakes property is in the mountains west of U.S. Highway 550 north of
Under the agreement, Tamarron Properties will not be allowed a northern entry to its property. Access will remain
from the south. Also, Tamarron Properties must pay for measures to mitigate the loss of a historic toll road that
connected Animas City (Durango) and Silverton before the railroad linked the communities.
The 228 acres acquired by Tamarron Properties abut the north side of the Tamarron holdings. Tamarron hugs the east
side of U.S. Highway 550 about 15 miles north of Durango. The heavily used Haviland Lake recreation area, including
Chris Park campground, lies immediately north of Tamarron.
Under the agreement, the government will acquire 160 acres at the Hermosa Creek trailhead west of Durango Mountain
Resort and the 10-acre Iron Clad mine claim in the Weminuche Wilderness north of Haviland Lake.
No public comment will be allowed on the agreement. A 45-day appeal period will start June 11 when the official
record of decision is published. No actions will be taken during appeal period except for the possible installation
of fencing by the Glacier Club on the Hermosa parcel.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., was pleased with the agreement. In a statement, he said: "I'm very glad to see a
resolution. After considerable public input we've reached an agreement that reflects community values and benefits
the public interest. One particular benefit is the added protection it will mean for the Hermosa Creek watershed."
Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, was equally as satisfied.
Salazar said in a statement: "I'm very pleased that per my request they dropped the proposed new road from Highway
550. This road would have fragmented the remaining public land in the area and reduced its quality for recreation.
The acquisition of Hermosa Park is a tremendous benefit.
"However, I am very disappointed that the Forest Service did not honor my request on behalf of my constituents to
provide the Chris Park Group Campground with an adequate buffer of land that remains public around the park on all
Opposition to the original land swap centered on two central issues:
The ease of access and frequent public use of the land coveted by Tamarron Properties compared to the remoteness of
the exchange properties.
What critics labeled a shady land-evaluation method. The appraiser selected four "comparable land sales" to
determine the worth of the properties involved.
But two of the parcels were those included in the exchange.
The remoteness of the Mitchell Lakes parcel, made inaccessible six months of the year by snow, is unlikely to be
developed, critics said.
San Juan National Forest Supervisor Mark Stiles said Friday, the government still has its eye on the Mitchell Lakes
"We'd like to have Mitchell Lakes," Stiles said. "But we couldn't get it through this deal."
Stiles said closing on the federal land will not occur before September. At that time, the government will receive
the cash equalization check and the money for toll road mitigation, he said.