When you want to get past private property during recreation access to public land, the first thing you look for are gaps where property parcels don’t touch. Walk or ski through there, and all is good. You’re not trespassing, everyone is happy. Or at least, we hope everyone is happy; which wasn’t the case with the couple having a go in their glass house up by Aspen after we hiked by in the dark (until the security lights blasted on) going elk hunting through a “gap” we’d found on a map that got us past their property. But that’s another story…
Recently, journalists and interested citizens noticed that when the southern Colorado San Miguel County GIS department mapped the controversial Gold Hill Development (Thomas Chapman and associates) Bessie and Modena mining claims in Bear Basin, they showed a good sized gap between the two claims.
According to this Dec. 9 article in the Telluride Daily News:
“According to a map provided by the company, the mining claims form a solid wall stretching up the sides of the valley…But anyone who looks on the county’s property website can see it tells a different story… In the county’s records, the mining claims are not contiguous. There is a gap between the claims…”
The above referenced report and probably others began what could become an interesting mini-controversy within the greater issue of Gold Hill Development and other private property in Bear Creek, next to Telluride Resort in southwestern Colorado.
Thus, while not as easy as having free run of the basin, it appeared everyone could be happy about skiing upper Bear Basin and getting through the GHD land. Sadly, a high quality certified survey done by registered surveyor Robert A. Larson shows there is no gap. To the best of my knowledge, a certified survey trumps more general and error prone County mapping, which always includes a disclaimer about its accuracy and says “…the data are not a substitute…for a survey.” It’ll be interesting to see where this goes. To court? Or will San Miguel GIS re-check their cords and make a public statement? And how about the elected County Surveyor, who perhaps is the guy to speak up and clarify and hopefully accurize the situation?
Several photos removed in this section, by request of the photographer.
So, for all you WildSnowers curious about one of the issues that’s come up with the Gold Hill Development property adjacent to Telluride Resort, that’s the “Modena Gap” controversy in a rather large nutshell. (new content, 12/19/2010a) Below, we publish some of Chapman’s photos that show the GHD property from different perspectives.