DEL NORTE— Rio Grande County Road and Bridge Supervisor Patrick Sullivan opened a discussion with the Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday, Nov. 15 to continue a conversation that started a month ago pertaining to a county road. Sullivan explained that the road has been on the county’s road map for many years and stated that it has been classified as County Road 14C. Sullivan continued to explain that though it is on the county’s map, it is actually privately owned and is a main access road to a BLM parcel located to the south of Del Norte.
The road is used by the public in order to access the BLM parcel to the south, but the land and home owners on the road are wanting to have the road gated in order to keep the public from using the road. Sullivan has been working with the owner of the road, John Wilder, to see about having the road deeded to the county as an unmaintained county road to help find a compromise between the land owners, BLM and the county.
During the meeting Wilder took a moment to show commissioners the boundaries of the road and his property and offered to gift the deed to the road to the county for no monetary gain. “I have the deed to the road and will quick claim deed it to the county with an additional warranty deed to a small parcel of land in order to make the connection to the BLM land. I worked as the Mineral County attorney for many years and what I did was make sure the public retained access to public lands and that is what I want to do here,” said Wilder.
Local BLM official Clinton Davie was also in attendance, stating that the BLM is in favor of the exchange because it would guarantee the BLM access to the land and allow the public to continue to use the parcel for their needs. “We would greatly benefit from having guaranteed access to that parcel. The fire that occurred there earlier this year is only one reason why it is important to have that access,” said Davie.
Wilder continued, explaining that he has been in contact with other property owners in the area that have direct access to the road and stated that some of them are in favor of the exchange while others still harbor concerns due to the fact that public users tend to speed on the road. “I don’t want to have speeders up and down that road, but otherwise, I do want the public to retain access,” said Wilder.
Commissioners agreed that they would look into ways to deter people from speeding, to which Davie stated that the BLM parcel in question is an open grazing unit and he would be willing to help pay for cattleguards to be installed at either end of the road. “This has been a long, living conversation for several years. If we can accept the road into the county system as a non-maintained county road, we can put it to rest,” said Sullivan.
Commissioners then gave the floor to property owner Greg Schaffer, who was against the idea of having the road quick deeded to the county for fear that there would be safety issues. The Schaffers recently suffered the loss of a family pet due to the speeders on the road and stated that he and other property owners want to put a coded gate on the road to stop public access. “We want to put an electronic gate at the beginning of the road and give the code to officials who need access,” said Schaffer.
Commissioners decided that it was best to continue research on the exchange before making a decision and asked County Administrator Roni Wisdom to place it on the December agenda for further discussion. Commissioner Karla Shriver stated that a decision on the matter would be made during the December meeting and closed the topic.