"By consolidating, we can increase our management of an area," said John Ruhs, BLM field manager.
"If you have a small parcel of 80 acres, it doesn't offer any enjoyment for anybody.If you have 1,800 acres, you can get off the highway and enjoy that.
"And the habitat is our responsibility.We try to manage all the uses on a site - grazing, wildlife, cultural resources.It's a lot easier to manage habitat if you have a bigger parcel," Ruhs
The swap would do the same for stretches of private land, most notably placing about 1,300 now-public acres into the hands of Blue Valley Ranch, concentrating its holdings along the banks of the Blue River
, which makes ranch management more efficient but irks some anglers, who would lose some stopping points in their floats down the Blue.
"I am surprised at the number of people who do float that river.I hadn't realized.There are some issues in the exchange that have some people concerned, and we'll be able to use their comments.We just have to know it's an issue, whether the exchange goes through or not," Ruhs
said angler's worries about locations to put in, stop and take out rafts called to his
attention the need for the BLM
to actively explore possible improvements, independent of the swap.Ruhs
will be one of the key decision-makers in the deal, for which his
office will continue to collect public comment until Aug. 18 and will oversee an environmental analysis by a team of biologists and land-use experts.
"What I'm seeing is that, as the general public gets a better idea of the entire package, they see the benefit for the public.There are individuals that have issues, but they are not general public issues.Like the floaters - while that's important, it's not the only use of the land," Ruhs
That's not to say the exchange is a done deal.Ruhs
said the entire process could take about two years, if successful.