Consider the consequences |

Consider the consequences

Dear Editor:

The Wexner family has offered to trade the 520-acre Sutey Ranch in Garfield County for the 1,268-acre Two Shoes Ranch in Pitkin County, and the Pitkin County commissioners are scheduled to meet with Wexner representatives today to discuss the trade.

There is a lot at stake here, from concerns about transferring public land into private ownership to the benefits of conserving nearly 2,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat in Garfield and Pitkin counties. But the value of the respective parcels should be determined before Pitkin County makes a decision. We have a good idea of what the Sutey Ranch is worth because it was recently purchased. However, the 1,268-acre Two Shoes Ranch on the northwest flank of Mount Sopris has not been appraised.

In 1994 Tom Chapman traded an in-holding in the Gunnison National Forest near the Black Canyon for 110 acres owned by the Forest Service near Telluride. The Forest Service valued the 110 acres for $640,000. Chapman sold 70 of the Telluride parcel a year later for $2.7 million, and he still had 40 acres left. That transaction has left a bad taste that has lingered for nearly 20 years.

I hope we develop a policy of when public officials should pursue land trades, since this is an issue that will recur time and again. I also urge Pitkin County to appraise the Two Shoes Ranch before making a decision.

Ken Ransford


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