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forest_service_logo.gifA 45,000-acre land exchange that caused significant public rancor until it was approved in November 2005 has just jumped another hurdle.
By Mike Cosentino
Larson Newspapers
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A 45,000-acre land exchange that caused significant public rancor until it was approved in November 2005 has just jumped another hurdle.

The agreement to initiate has been signed by all the parities involved in the Yavapai Ranch Land Exchange as of Feb. 26.

?It is the road map for the actual exchange,? said Alan Quan, Prescott National Forest supervisor.

The ATI was signed by the U.S. Forest Service, Yavapai Ranch Limited Partnership, SunCor and First American Title Insurance company.

Ken Simeral, USFS Lands Team leader, said the name of the document is a misnomer since the parties have been working on the exchange since its approval.

The idea is to give the Prescott National Forest a contiguous forest area to manage, give the Fred Ruskin family, owners of the Yavapai Ranch, a portion equivalent in value to develop, and to put into private hands some of the land around municipalities, making it available for development.

A look at the maps showing the Yavapai Ranch Land Exchange show the checkerboard pattern back when all the land belonged to the federal government. The land was deeded to the railroads for its timber and minerals to be used to complete the railroad across the country.

Simeral said land in the checkerboard pattern was difficult for the USFS to manage for recreation and conservation.

?We will get some canyons with some old growth pine,? Simeral said.

Included in the exchange are 1,200 acres centered around the Gen. Crook Trail and I-17 intersection in Camp Verde.

Ruskin has hired SunCor to develop his potion of the land, said Maria Baier, spokeswoman for the company.

?The exact properties that will be developed and what will not is still up to land values,? Baier said. ?The legislation worked out some of it, but until you get an appraiser out there, it will not be finalized.?

Federal lands traded include parcels south of Prescott on the Prescott National Forest, and in the cities of Williams and Flagstaff, on the Kaibab and Coconino National Forests.


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