Summit County national forestland closer to becoming affordable-housing project
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a 40-acre land exchange that would convey Forest Service-owned land to Summit County to be developed as affordable housing for local workers.
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, said he introduced the land-exchange bill because it would help the community use the property in a way that improves the quality of life in Summit County.
“People are happier when they live in the communities where they work. They also want to enjoy the quality of life provided in mountain communities like Summit County,” he said.
The project has widespread support from local stakeholders, including the White River National Forest, said Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs. But because the property is federally owned, it needs approval from the government to move forward.
“A lot of people say nothing is going on in D.C., but here we have a bill directly benefitting Summit County moving forward through Congress,” Gibbs said. “I think that’s pretty unique to have members of Congress listen to a direct need and turn it into action.”
The Lake Hill Administrative Site Affordable Housing Act was passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday on a voice vote — “which really means it was passed unanimously,” Gibbs said.
The land sale would benefit not only Summit community members, but also the Forest Service, Polis said.
The Lake Hill property, located northeast of Frisco between Interstate 70 and Dillon Dam Road, has lost its forest characteristics and no longer benefits the Forest Service. But funding provided from the land exchange would help the Forest Service improve administrative facilities, he said.
“The Forest Service has for years been trying to get the funds to more effectively manage national forestland and this will provide a funding mechanism for it,” Polis said. “It would be a win for the hardworking rangers who are working to fulfill the needs in the national forest.”
The passage of the bill through the House is one step toward turning the affordable housing idea into reality, but it still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president.
Gibbs said he’s confident the legislation will continue to move forward.
“Sens. Udall and Bennet are working hard on our behalf in Summit County to expedite passage of the Lake Hill legislation in the Senate,” he said.
A hearing on the Lake Hill legislation has been scheduled next month in the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
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