A precious deal
July 18, 2009
With regard to the proposed exchange of the former Sutey Ranch adjacent to Red Hill near Carbondale for a piece of steep scrub oak BLM land adjacent to Mr. Leslie Wexner’s land on the lower slopes of Mount Sopris, I have this observation to make: More than 100 years ago in the late 1870s, the 513-acre Sutey land was still used by the Ute Indians until we took it away from them, and it became government land that belonged to all of us until it was then given away to a private owner by all of us to be used as a homestead.
After the death of the Sutey brothers, who had brought water into the land and irrigated it for years, their ranch was bought by Mr. Wexner for millions of dollars. Mr. Wexner now proposes to give back to us that land, which was homesteaded for nothing down, so that we can once more enjoy it as ours, in exchange for some land adjacent to his ranch. We gave it away once, and we can get it back, thanks to a man who could afford to buy it and now wants to give it back to us. Lucky us. Thank you, Mr. Wexner.
And I also want to thank, ahead of time, the Pitkin County commissioners for generously agreeing to this proposed land exchange, which will benefit the entire valley. In its present state the Sutey Ranch is one of last remaining unsubdivided original homesteads in the valley. The original homesteader’s log cabin is still standing, as are a few of the simple outbuildings along with the four-room Sutey brothers’ house. Once the ranch is back in public hands, I pledge to work to insure that it will be preserved pretty much as-is, as an example of what it took to open up the West to settlement.
Years ago I worked hard with many others to convince the U.S. Forest Service to acquire the 2,000 acres of private land in Hunter Creek which was under threat of development at the time, and what a boon that has proved to be! The Sutey Ranch and the adjacent Red Hill BLM land are Carbondale’s equivalent of Hunter Creek. This is where we go to hike and run and ride our bikes just a short distance from town. Lucky us. Thank you, Pitkin County.
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