Planners look at Motherwell request

The ranch where a bull elk tested positive for chronic wasting disease in late January is coming before the Routt County Planning Commission tonight to ask for a permit for a recreational resort.

Meanwhile, no final decision on what will happen with the ranch's herd of 208 elk has been released by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Soon after the elk was found with the disease, officials said the department's top priority was to depopulate the ranch.

The Motherwell Ranch is asking the county for approval for two existing buildings and for a new lodge on its 1,800 acres, which is home to cattle and domestic elk.

The CWD issue is unrelated to the ranch's permit application and will not be a part of the Planning Commission's decision, Routt County Planner John Eastman said.

The buildings up for consideration would not be in critical wildlife habitat, and the Planning Commission does not have the authority in its land-use discussion to consider the disease issue, Eastman said.

"That's not our job to look at that stuff," he said. "How they deal with wildlife issues, that's really between them and the Division of Wildlife.

The buildings that could be permitted have a small footprint on the large area of land and represent a low intensity of use compared with the potential for development of 35-acre parcels on the ranch, according to a planning report.

The permit would cover two existing buildings: the Dream Lake House, which has lodging for up to 14 guests and a commercial kitchen, and the Aspen Leaf cabin, which has lodging for up to four guests.

The permit also covers a proposed lodge to house up to 18 people and a commercial kitchen. Although the existing buildings are hidden from view, the lodge is proposed for a knob that would make it highly visible from county roads, Eastman said.

The permit request comes from Wes Adams, a Las Vegas contractor who owns the Motherwell Ranch, which is part of Western States Ranches. The ranch is southwest of Hayden.

The Routt County Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. today in the Commissioners Hearing Room in the Routt County Courthouse Annex.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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