Foresters Taking New Look At Land Exchanges

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Local Forest Service officials are revising their land-management plan and re-examining the future of land exchanges in the Payson area.


To gather more information, Forest officials will meet with the Payson Town Council at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26 at the Inn of Payson during the council's public workstudy session.


"Basically things have changed a lot since our last land-management plan in 1985," said Rod Byers, interim district ranger for the Payson Ranger District. "We are looking at current issues and needs before we head into any plan revisions and amendments."


Byers said he expects the plan to be completed by 2001.


"We will make a determination of what lands we may want to consider for future land exchanges and potentially how big (those) exchanges might be," he said.


Of the 2.8 million acres of land in the Tonto National Forest, 480,000 are in the Payson Ranger District. Right now, 2,000 acres are available for land exchange, Byers said. That number could go up or down with the new land-management plan, he said.


In addition to the council and Forest Service representatives, members of the Payson Airport Advisory Board and Payson Planning and Zoning Commission will participate in the meeting.


Town Manager Rich Underkofler recruited the airport board for the meeting because he wants to discuss airport issues, including airport expansion, Byers said.


The Payson IV land exchange, which recently unraveled, also will be a topic of discussion, he said.


"The Payson IV land exchange fell apart but there is still a lot of interest," he said. "We may look at repackaging that land exchange differently than the original.


"We are looking at what to do with lands that are a part of our exchange base, and we are looking at changing our base in the future.


"What we are doing is going out and asking questions. Over time, things do change and we are looking to see how those changes affect what our plans will be in the future."


Normally, the council doesn't take action during workstudy meetings, but the public can attend.

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