Golden Valley residents differ over effect on water usage of BLM land exchange

A land exchange turning over 14,600 acres of federal land in Golden Valley to a developer could affect the existing water supply with the influx of people buying 40-acre lots, according to some Golden Valley residents.

The land swap between the federal Bureau of Land Management and Legend Land LLC could pave the way for the development of 365 lots, Mohave County Planner Kevin Davidson said.

Assuming each house has the national average of 3.5 dwellers, more than 1,000 people could move to the area, located north of Agua Fria Drive and west of U.S.

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"Of course, any increase in the population is going to put a strain on natural resources," said Bob Holsinger, president of Golden Paradise Landowners Inc.

"It will put a strain on the water," he said.

"At some point, this is going to be a major issue, mainly in the Golden Valley proper area" because the aquifer is deeper than it is at the site of the Griffith Energy Project, which is lower in elevation.

Holsinger was referring to a land exchange in which the federal Bureau of Land Management swapped the Golden Valley acreage for 17,950 acres in the Cane Springs area north of Wikieup owned by Legend Land.

The exchange went into effect Feb.

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Officials from the BLM and Ben Brooks & Associates, which manages Legend's property, lauded the agreement for opening up the Cane Springs acreage for hunting and other recreation.

They said the Golden Valley land has little recreational value and is better suited for housing development because it is near existing roads and homes.

Brooks' plans to develop the property will have little effect on population – and water – because of the size of the lots, said Russ McCoy, sales/project manager for Brooks' real estate office in Yucca.

He contrasted the Golden Valley acreage with two-acre lots scattered throughout the area.

Population growth is inevitable regardless of whether a lot is 40 acres or smaller, according to John Clayton, general manager of Valley Pioneers Water Co.

Valley Pioneers, which serves a 24-square-mile area, installs about 60 meters a year.

"I don't have a concern" about Brooks' plans, Clayton said.

"Population growth is inevitable.

We take it as it happens."

Brooks established an improvement district for its Stagecoach Trails lots in the Yucca area and may do the same in Golden Valley to help finance roads and water service, McCoy said.

The new owners of the lots in Golden Valley would pay for providing those improvements after a majority of landowners who hold a majority of the assessed valuation vote to be in a district.

"All the paperwork could be done" in advance of the sales, McCoy said.

"The first step would be completed."

Davidson, who served as liaison to the moribund Golden Valley Area Plan Committee, raises concerns about an improvement district taking in land outside the newly exchanged land.

"People who live on the edge do not want to be in an improvement district because they would be assessed for improvements that they don't want," Davidson said.

The land exchange is a done deal, said Joe Tamberella, who chaired the land-use subcommittee of the area plan panel.

"There is nothing you can do about it," he said.

"The BLM people wanted to get rid of the property.

It remains to be seen what is happen" with the land.

The BLM addressed concerns of many Golden Valley residents last July by withdrawing about 2,000 acres in western Golden Valley from the swap, he said.

An appraiser for the BLM determined that the inclusion of the withdrawn lands would have made the total acreage more valuable than the land being swapped in Cane Springs.

The appraisal report cited the proximity of the withdrawn federal lands to State Route 68, location within a water district and "perhaps better aesthetic amenities along the mountains."

"We did not receive any protest on this exchange, and it is done," said Don McClure, project manager at the Kingman office of the BLM.

"We can manage the lands in the Hualapai Mountains for the benefit of the American public.

I think this is a real good example of how land exchanges help us manage where development takes place."

The BLM proposed the exchange in June 1999.