Moffat County leases rights near Loudy-Simpson Park

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Moffat County commissioners voted Tuesday to lease the mineral rights to a parcel of land next to Loudy-Simpson Park.

The 78-acre area commissioners voted Tuesday to lease is on the same property as the park, but isn't part of the park itself.

The leased area is about a mile west of the park's headquarters and baseball fields, said Moffat County natural resources director Jeff Comstock.

The county will receive $4,680 for the three-year lease.

The area has been leased since 1990, Comstock said. The latest lease expired earlier this month.

Although the mineral rights to the property have been leased for 15 years, no drilling has occurred there.

"That's very common in the gas industry," Comstock said of leasing minerals without drilling.

If the owners of the lease, Lynn Properties, decide to drill on the ground, they will have to work out a surface agreement with the county.

Moffat County owns the mineral rights to about 60,000 acres in the county.

The county obtained most of the mineral rights when the previous owners failed to pay taxes on the minerals. Comstock said most of those transactions happened in the 1940s.

But in the case of the property near Loudy-Simpson, the county purchased the mineral rights when it purchased the property.

Because the county bought the property with tax dollars, commissioners don't have to share the proceeds from the lease with other agencies. If the property had been obtained through a tax deed, a portion of the proceeds would have to go to the Moffat County School district, Colorado Northwestern Community College and a few other agencies, Comstock said.

Commissioners on Tuesday discussed earmarking the $4,680 from the sale for use at Loudy-Simpson, but they decided against it.

Commissioner Tom Gray said because the county purchased the property with tax dollars, the money from the lease shouldn't be earmarked for any particular expense.

Commissioners should have the freedom to use the money for any capital expenditures, Gray said.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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