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Forest Service seeks operator for historic cabins

The U.S. Forest Service is looking for operators to rent out the Aspen Guard Station north of Mancos.

The San Juan National Forest is seeking applications to operate the historic Aspen and Glade guard stations.

A successful applicant will gain a commercial permit for renting the cabins to the public, said Tom Rice, recreation planner for the Dolores District.

“They are really neat buildings that are not getting used,” he said. “Having an operator will allow the public to stay in the forest in historic cabins and provide a local business opportunity. Rental management will also help keep the buildings maintained.”

The Aspen Guard Station is 10 miles northeast of Mancos on Forest Road 561. It is a rustic cabin with a water well, propane and solar system. It has a kitchen and three bedrooms.

The Glade Guard Station is 30 miles north of Cortez on Forest Road 512. It is similar to the Aspen station but has had renovations in the past five years that include corrals.

Access for both properties is via gravel forest roads. Winter snowfall typically closes access from November to May. Snow machines and off-highway vehicles may be used when roads are closed because of snow. The commercial permit term will be for two years, with an option to extend the term non-competitively for an additional five years.

The cabins have a long history with the Forest Service.

The Glade Guard Station was established in 1905 when a small log cabin was constructed as an administrative facility for the Glade District of the Montezuma National Forest, which is now part of the Dolores District of the San Juan National Forest. In 1916, a wood-frame residence was built and a barn was added.

The Lone Dome Civilian Conservation Corp camp was set up adjacent to the Glade Guard Station in 1930s. During this time, a garage, meat house (later used as a toolshed) and an outhouse were constructed. The station continued to serve various functions through the 1970s and is one of the oldest Forest Service administrative sites in Colorado. The site was listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties in 2001 and is considered to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The log-constructed Aspen Guard Station was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938 for Forest Service administration under Superintendent G. Wayne Bauer. It is in an aspen grove near the historic Jersey Jim Lookout Tower.

The Aspen station was built as part of the federal government’s effort to generate jobs after the Great Depression and was part of a campaign of natural resource enhancement undertaken by the Forest Service during the New Deal era.

Rangers lived in the Aspen station when they worked in the field, and it included office space, a bedroom, storage and a garage. Later, a small kitchen and dining nook were added. By the 1950s, it was being used for seasonal work crews. Beginning in 1994, the dwelling was used for an artist-in-residence program, but that program ended in 2012.

Rice said the cabins need some upkeep, and that some of the revenues generated by the rentals would be earmarked for building maintenance.

As part of the application, bidders must show a business plan and experience with providing lodging to the public. Other details should include visitation numbers, season of use, potential revenue, logistics and cost of infrastructure and operations. Providing public benefit and generating revenue are critical parts of this opportunity, Rice said.

Parties are encouraged to research and visit the stations by contacting the Dolores Ranger District before Oct. 15. Application packages must be received by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 27.

Interested parties may contact Tom Rice, recreation program manager, Dolores Ranger District, 29211 Colorado Highway 184, Dolores, CO 81323. Rice’s phone is 882-6843. His email is thomasbrice@fs.fed.us.

For more information, including an electronic copy of the prospectus, contact Rice. The prospectus is posted at: bit.ly/2werN4E.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com

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