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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, March 31, 2004


Wilderness ranch land trade proposed by feds

Express Staff Writer

To resolve the trespass of private buildings on public land near the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, the U.S. Forest Service is proposing a land exchange with the owners of the Sulphur Creek Ranch.

An additional conservation easement and land purchase could help the Salmon-Challis National Forest prevent any further development at the remote wilderness area in-holding.

"The combination of the three items would preserve and protect in perpetuity the natural features and values of the Sulphur Creek Ranch property consistent with the primitive expectations of the wilderness," according to John Haugh, acting Middle Fork District ranger.

The 159-acre ranch borders Sulphur Creek, which is the first major tributary that flows into the Middle Fork downstream of the Boundary Creek launch site. The ranch is several miles upstream from the creek’s confluence with the Middle Fork and is inside the borders of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area.

According to Haugh, the Forest Service is proposing to exchange 4.95 acres of public land for about 5.043 acres of the ranch. Haugh said 11 ranch buildings have been built on Forest Service land. Some were built as recently as the 1980s.

Haugh said the federal land the buildings were inadvertently built on is on the edge of a meadow, while the private land the Forest Service stands to gain is along the creek, including 3 acres of wetlands and 2 acres of floodplain.

In addition to the land exchange, the Forest Service is proposing to buy 75 acres of the Sulpher Creek Ranch and buy an 84-acre conservation easement on the remaining property.

The purchase prices for the easement and land have not been negotiated, Haugh said.

Comments about the proposal should be addressed to John Haugh, Middle Fork Acting Deputy District Ranger, P.O. Box 750, Challis, ID 83226. Emails should be sent to comments-[email protected].

Comments will be most helpful if received by April 12.


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