Dry Gulch Reservoir: Land acquisition and easement strategies

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From the Pagosa Sun (Chuck McGuire):

Effective May 12, a long-standing ranching family and two area water districts entered into an agreement with a local land trust to explore the feasibility of conservation easements on some or all of approximately 140 acres located nearly two miles northeast of Pagosa Springs. As Dry Gulch is now planned, a portion of the acreage will eventually lie beneath the waterline, while the remainder will become lakefront property.

The land in question is part of several hundred acres currently owned by the Laverty family, including Kitzel Farrah, Kurt Laverty and Steve Laverty. Entities hoping to acquire that portion of the Laverty property include the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) and the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD), herein referred to as “the districts.”

Though the Lavertys have been reluctant to sell property to accommodate the reservoir, they are apparently willing to part with that which will ultimately be flooded, while preferably maintaining ownership of the rest. They are also reportedly inclined to donate certain property rights to the public (in the form of conservation easements), in order to preserve and protect the shoreline, view shed and water quality.

Of course, filling Dry Gulch may be possible without the Lavertys having to sell any land at all. According to Southwest Land Alliance (SLA) Executive Director Michael Whiting, many reservoirs exist over land permanently protected by more restrictive easements. Depending on the answers to a number of relative questions, the Lavertys might end up selling the districts all or a portion of the land, or simply holding on to it, while implementing multiple easements.

To answer questions and eliminate all doubt, the Lavertys, SLA and the districts agreed to investigate whether some combination of conservation easements and/or fee title acquisition would satisfy the districts needs, while also benefiting the Lavertys and the community overall.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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