USA: Lehigh proposes land swap

USA: Lehigh proposes land swap
Published: 14 February 2012

Under a proposal with Lehigh Southwest Cement Co, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest around Lake Shasta could grow by about 246 acres.

Lehigh Southwest Cement wants to swap about 78 acres of Forest Service land near its Mountain Gate plant for about 246 acres it owns near the McCloud arm of Lake Shasta.

Jim Ellison, plant manager at Lehigh, said his company has been using the 78 acres for roads under permit from the forest service for power line access and other uses, he said. 

He said Lehigh wants to own the property outright. Lehigh’s plant only has a cement capacity of 650,000tpa, but the land swap would not be part of an expansion of the mine or plant, Ellison said.

Kristy Cottini, a district ranger for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, claims that because the land near Lehigh is not good for public use, but the 246 acres the Forest Service would acquire in the swap would be more suitable for recreation and wildlife.  

Before the exchange is approved, the Forest Service has to make a "public benefit determination that the lands coming into federal ownership have greater resource value than the lands being exchanged out of," Cottini said.

The Forest Service also has to do an environmental analysis and take public comment on the proposed swap, she said. Ellison said work on the environmental report has not begun yet.