Clifton acreage emblematic of Tipton-Schwartz public lands scrap

Mesa County has its eye on 28 acres of adobe lands south of Interstate 70 that officials hope can be turned into a business park, providing an economic boost to the Clifton area.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation acquired the property more than a century ago, using it for construction of the Highline Canal, and it has since lain fallow.

If the county could acquire it, the property could provide access for the development of adjacent private lands, said Pete Baier, deputy administrator for operations.

The land appears to fit the description of the kind of property that some in Congress want the federal government to dispose of, by giving it to local governments or by sale under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act. Another measure supported by U.S. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., would encourage federal agencies to dispose of those lands and establish funds from sales for educational and recreational purposes.

Tipton’s challenger, former state Sen. Gail Schwartz, a Democrat, has pointed to the measure, H.R. 5836, the Hunting Education and Recreational Development Act, as evidence that Tipton is aligned with interests wanting the federal government to sell off its land.

The land sits south of Interstate 70 and north of the canal with potential access off 32 Road.

County officials recognize that the Bureau of Reclamation could require some property for canal maintenance but there might be room left over for development of a business park or commercial and industrial use, Baier said.

The Bureau of Reclamation has jurisdiction over the property, but it’s administered by the Bureau of Land Management, which identified the site as suitable for disposal.

The Bureau of Reclamation is discussing with water users and the BLM potential options for the property, said Reclamation spokeswoman Justyn Liff.


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