Sunday, September 11, 2011

Details emerging on Petrified Forest acquisition of Hatch/Pursell ranch lands

The purchase of the Hatch/Paulsell ranch lands for addition to Petrified Forest National Park was the #4 priority on the National Park Service's Federal Land Acquisition FY2012 Priority List.

The list describes the acquisition as comprising 26,496.16 acres spread across 6 tracts. The estimated cost is shown as $5,475,000, although news reports say NPS paid about $8 million for the surface rights only.

Jarrod, who is following the Holbrook basin potash play on his Nested Quotes website, has posted the first map showing the possible extent of the Paulsell Ranch lands involved in the sale. In an email Jarrod said he has a map from one of other ranches in the area that showed an area marked as the Paulsell Ranch which works out to about 26,000 acres. He added that as a layer on his online interactive map viewer. Those lands are shown in darker yellow on the top map at right.

Interestingly, most of the lands are the same as leases held by Denver-based Prospect Global Resources (owner of American West Potash) [bottom right in purple].

A news article published last week before the sale announcement, quoted park superintendent Brad Traver saying they had met with American West Potash president Pat Avery about minimizing mine operation impacts on the park, including helping determine the location of the mines surface facilities. The Arizona Journal quotes Traver saying, “He (Avery) invited us to participate in the design process for the mine’s facilities on the surface, which was pretty extraordinary, I thought."

A 1999 article in High Country News describes the purchase of the 60,000 acre Paulsell Ranch by Marvin Hatch and partner Terrance "Shorty" Reidhead for $3.3 million and their plans to create the "International Petrified Forest" as a private tourist attraction.

The Dept. of Interior FY2011 budget proposal asked for $7.5 million to buy both the Twin Buttes and Paulsell ranches to add to the Park. Passport Potash has a lease-purchase option for the Twin Buttes ranch for a reported $20 million.

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