Progress shown for Walker Ranches landowners
More than a year after the Southern Delivery System pipeline was completed across his property in northern Pueblo County, rancher Gary Walker still is trying to finalize details of the mitigation.
“I don’t have any power in telling them how to reclaim the land,” Walker said. “But I understand that if I don’t like something, or if something fails, we can go back and do it again and again until it’s right. We’re in a happy limbo period.”
Walker said there have been numerous meetings with Colorado Springs and county officials to discuss revegetation concerns in the last few months.
Walker won’t know what he’ll get paid for the 7-mile crossing of Walker Ranches by the SDS pipeline until next year at the soonest, when a trial on valuation is scheduled.
Walker had been a vocal critic of the handling of SDS during and after the Pueblo County commissioners’ approval of 1041 land-use permits for SDS.
“I have a lot more faith in it, with this group of county commissioners,” Walker said. “For the first time, they seem to be taking an interest in getting this done right.”
Commissioners Liane “Buffie” McFadyen and Sal Pace have visited the property and Terry Hart is planning to, Walker said. He said the previous board had largely ignored his concerns about the impacts the pipeline would have, specifically on his property.
“Prior to this, nobody had put pressure on Colorado Springs Utilities to do the right thing,” Walker said.
Conditions in the 1041 agreement between Pueblo County and Utilities require fair value for property acquisition and the use of eminent domain as a last resort. Another section requires revegetation of land that includes consultation with the landowner.
Commissioners plan to review compliance with the 1041 permit sometime in the near future, but a date has not been set.