42-acre Chihuahua backcountry parcel valued at $1.07 million in Snake River land trade
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The recently approved Snake River land trade ended up being a straight one-for-one trade, with the privately owned 42-acre backcountry Chihuahua parcel along Peru Creek going into federal hands in exchange for the 21-acre, publicly owned Dercum Dash parcel, located slopeside near the base of the River Run gondola at Keystone.
The trade has been in the works for almost a decade, and previously included several other national forest public land tracts near Breckenridge. But valuing the various pieces of land to achieve near-equal value ended up being a challenge. Forest Service land exchange rules call for parcels to be within 25 percent of equal value.
In the final approval, the Dercum Dash parcel, with preliminary zoning approval for development of up to 24 single-family homes and a clubhouse, was valued at $1.25 million, which comes out to about $59,500 for each one-acre single family, ski-in, ski-out lot.
The backcountry Chihuahua parcel, platted as a town in the late 1800s, was valued at $1.07 million, or about $25,000 per acre. The development rights associated with the historic townsite plat were never fully settled.
Gary Miller and the Chihuahua LLC. will also make a cash payment of $180,000 to fully equalize the values.
For the sake of comparison, Summit County several years ago paid $1.5 million (about $43,000 per acre) for the agriculturally zoned 35-acre Fishhook parcel, also in the Snake River Basin, near Summit Cove. That property had only limited development potential associated with it, although Dillon had designated the parcel as a potential town annexation.
Most appraisals, including those done for forest service land trades, are based on looking at the values of transactions of similar properties in the same general areas.
For the Forest Service, the trade eliminates a major inholding in the Snake River backcountry and protects dispersed recreational opportunities and trail access in the area.
The agency said the federal lands at the base of Keystone are already losing their national forest characteristics, and that the trade will reduce “administrative issues” associated with managing land in the urban interface area.