Land exchange has a bright side, too

  I am just floored that your article "Arizona land swap dogged by questions" does not mention ANY of the positive aspects of the proposed Yavapai Ranch land exchange (HCN, 3/1/04: Arizona land swap dogged by questions).

At present, 116,351 acres of land within the boundary of the Prescott National Forest exists in checkerboard ownership with the Yavapai Ranch. Under the current pattern of ownership, mini subdivisions of homes could occur on every other section of land. This would seriously fragment this piñon/juniper/grassland ecosystem.

The land exchange would consolidate this block into entirely national forest ownership. The benefits of this action would be:
  • Protects or enhances important wildlife and plant habitat, especially habitat for antelope.

  • Reduces the amount of water that could be drawn from the Verde River Watershed by reducing the allowable development from approximately 25,000 homes to 16,500 homes.

  • Assures access to public lands for recreation, hunting and resource management.

  • Significantly reduces opportunity for private development immediately adjacent to Juniper Mesa Wilderness.

I understand that there are concerns about development of some of the lands to be exchanged in the Verde Valley and the possible impacts on the Verde River. I ask that you accurately portray all of the potential effects, positive and negative.

Carrie Christman
Prescott, Arizona

The writer is forest planner on the Prescott National Forest.