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Matt Ryan Testifying in Washington D.C.

Hoping to gain federal support to allow several Coconino County residents to retain property they’ve lived on for years, County District 3 Supervisor Matt Ryan testified before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on Friday morning.

Supervisor Ryan urged members of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands to approve H.R. 1038. The resolution, introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar on March 11, 2011, would allow the U.S. Forest Service to transfer up to 3 acres of federal land inside the Mountainaire Subdivision that was erroneously labeled and settled as private property.

In November 2007, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management completed a land survey in the Mountainaire Subdivision in the Coconino National Forest south of Flagstaff. During the 2007 survey, the BLM determined that an erroneous privately contracted survey of Mountainaire Unit I, which was completed between 1960 and 1961, misidentified several acres of U.S. Forest Service land as private property.

“On some of the developed parcels, the revised boundary goes through portions of the landowner’s residence,” Supervisor Ryan told the Subcommittee. “Furthermore, several of these residents have maintained these parcels and developed them as their own for years, and in some cases decades.”

The legislation authorizes the transfer of the property from the U.S. Forest Service, avoiding a long and costly administrative process. The boundary discrepancy impacts approximately 26 lots and 27 property owners in the subdivision, many of whom have been unable to sell their properties because they are unable to prove land ownership, Supervisor Ryan testified.

Rep. Gosar and U.S. Forest Service Acting Deputy Chief Gregory Smith testified in support of H.R. 1038.

“We believe this is a small price to pay to grant these homeowners the peace of mind of knowing the property they live on is their own,” Supervisor Ryan said. “H.R. 1038 will provide much-needed relief to homeowners of the Mountainaire Subdivision.”

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