No deal: BLM says proposed land swap north of Kingman DOA

Jim Rhodes, who proposed deal, didn't follow through, official says

KINGMAN - Jim Rhodes' proposed 21,000-acre land exchange with the Bureau of Land Management is a dead deal, a BLM official said Thursday.

Roxie Trost, Colorado River District Manager, said Rhodes did not respond to BLM's request for additional information regarding the proposed land exchange, and it's been more than two months.

"The case has been closed because of inactivity," Trost said Thursday in a follow-up call to the Daily Miner.

Rhodes last year proposed a land swap that would consolidate checkerboard ownership of land parcels in the Red Lake area north of Kingman.

Rhodes' land would effectively encompass the Red Lake aquifer in the Hualapai Valley basin, allowing him to withdraw as much water as he wants for his farm operations.

That drew protests from local residents who feared Rhodes would deplete Kingman's water supply. There were outbursts about Rhodes "sucking the valley dry," destroying property values and stirring up dust storms at a town hall meeting in November.

Rhodes, a Las Vegas home builder and developer, owns at least 15 existing wells, including 10 in the Red Lake area, and 73 more wells are proposed with the Arizona Department of Resources, according to research by Mohave County planner Sylvia Shaffer. She found Rhodes' name connected with 57 different corporations in Nevada and Arizona.

BLM allegedly found evidence that Rhodes trespassed on federal land earlier this year when he built roads and destroyed monument markers that had been in place for about 100 years. The federal agency issued a "cease and desist" notice to Rhodes in May.

"As a result of this unauthorized activity, at a minimum, you are liable for fair market value rent of the public lands, rehabilitation and stabilization of the lands damaged by your act, and administrative costs incurred by the BLM as a consequence of your act," Trost wrote in the letter.

The BLM is still considering whether additional remedies are warranted, and how to seek those remedies. In any case, Rhodes was ordered to cease and desist unauthorized activity on public lands.

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