160 acres near Kebler Pass
A non-denominational Christian camp in Taylor Park is seeking a land swap with the U.S. Forest Service. The trade, proposed by Adventure Experiences Inc., would attain up to 160 acres along Kebler Pass Road near Crested Butte for the public, in exchange for 376 acres of federal land near Taylor Park in the Illinois Creek drainage.
Adventure Experiences Inc. offers summertime Christian camps and wilderness retreat center at its location off Taylor River Road. It’s been pursuing the land swap since 2001 to insulate its nature-based camp.
According to camp owner Linda Kempf, she and her husband, Tim, have been purchasing tracts of land around their 35-acre camp since 1984 when they founded their business. “We knew that there were Forest Service parcels in amongst us and they’re surrounded by private land,” she says. “The Forest Service said they’re hard to manage and they were wanting to get rid of them.”
After considering the purchase, Kempf says they decided to go ahead with a land swap. “Our intent in obtaining the tracts is to keep them in their natural state as a buffer for our commercial tract,” she says.
In exchange for the Taylor Park lands, the Forest Service identified 160 acres near Kebler Pass that it wishes to acquire for public use from the Crested Butte Land Trust. The Land Trust purchased the acres, which lie near the junction of the Irwin townsite and Kebler Pass roads, in 2001 to help protect the Town’s watershed. Crested Butte Land Trust executive director Ann Johnston says the Land Trust felt the parcel was a good candidate to be traded to the Forest Service because it’s adjacent to other Forest Service lands. “We felt that trading into the Forest Service, it would be good management because it’s surrounded by Forest Service land and gives us funds to manage other areas,” Johnston says.
Local environmental group High Country Citizens’ Alliance has not yet decided on its official position on the swap. However, HCCA public lands director Dan Morse says, “Our initial understanding is that it could be beneficial for public lands.”
Citizens are invited to comment on the plan until March 24. Objections/comments can be filed with the Forest Supervisor, c/o Dennis Hovel, Land Exchange Coordinator, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre & Gunnison National Forests, 2250 Highway 50, Delta, CO 81416. Following that, the proposal will enter the federal NEPA process with a review and public comment period.