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White's Peak action draws only one bid

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By The Staff

SANTA FE -- Only one person submitted a bid for 7,206 acres of state trust land in the White’s Peak area north of Ocaté by Tuesday’s deadline.

Rancher David Stanley, one of four private landowners involved in a negotiating a complicated land swap, was the lone bidder.

The swap is aimed at reducing conflict between the public — mostly hunters and outdoor enthusiasts — and landowners in the area, which has become a checkerboard of public and private holdings.

The State Land Office declined to disclose terms of Stanley’s bid after it was opened Wednesday.

Stanley’s effort would be the first exchange in what is supposed to be a four-way deal that also involves two other area ranches, CS Cattle and the UU-Bar.

The Stanley Ranch is offering 3,336 acres valued at $6.41 million for 7,205 acres of state trust land valued at $6.35 million. The UU Bar Ranch is offering 3,610 acres valued at $2,383,000 for 3,431 acres of state trust land valued at $2,381,100.

Brian Henington, the Land Office’s deputy director of field operations, said the deal is a value-to-value trade based on an appraisal, with the state coming out slightly ahead.

According to figures released earlier this month, the State Land Office estimates it would come out $57,000 ahead and stands to gain private land valued at $12.9 million more than state holdings involved if the entire four-way swap is completed.

Area sportsmen and other critics say the deal may be unfair and will hurt northern New Mexico hunters.

The New Mexico Wildlife Foundation held a news conference in front of the Land Office last week decrying the swap. The same day, Gov. Bill Richardson issued a statement expressing concern about the way the deal was arranged and what he said was a lack of public input.

Henington said none of the deal’s details were secret and the public was welcome to comment.

The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is reviewing the deal.