China spring/Bently landswap approved |

China spring/Bently landswap approved

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Douglas County will proceed with a land swap that will provide another 80 acres for the China Spring Youth Camp.

The county commission approved trading 80 acres of county land in the Pine Nut range for 80 acres owned by the Bently Family Limited Partnership Thursday. Before the deal gets final approval, another hearing must be held.

The Bently land is adjacent to China Spring and will be used for girls’ facilities at the camp, which currently houses delinquent boys from around the state.

The plan was criticized by members of the Pine Nut Preservation League, who oppose any more private acquisition of Pine Nut property.

“Even though it’s only 80 acres, it’s important to us,” said John Dicks, a founder of the group.

Fellow league member Peggy Herman said she’s suspicious because the county commission passed a resolution Nov. 2 opposing a separate potential trade between Bently and the Bureau of Land Management. The Pine Nut league formed in response to that proposal.

“I feel betrayed,” said Herman. “What other things do you have hidden here? What’s going to come bite us next week? To us, it appears there’s a lot of underhanded things going on.”

County Manager Dan Holler said the trade for the China Spring land has been in the works for almost a year, and camp director Steve Thaler said the county approached Bently with the idea.

The commissioners conceded the timing raised questions, but said the youth camp needs the land and the Pine Nut trade won’t deprive anyone of heavily used land. County staffers say the Pine Nut land is a mile from the nearest road and isn’t suitable for any development.

“I don’t see it as that much of an imposition to move that to the private sector,” said Commissioner Don Miner.

The Bently land was appraised at $68,000 and the county land was appraised at $44,000. The proposal calls for the county to pay $10,000 cash and provide Bently with an easement across the camp land.

The proposal is scheduled for discussion again Dec. 7.