Sutey Ranch exchange benefits all |

Sutey Ranch exchange benefits all

Dear Editor:

The Pitkin Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will soon be voting on whether to support the much-publicized land exchange proposed by Mr. Leslie Wexner known as the Two Shoes and Sutey Ranch exchange.

As you may know, many local organizations have sent in letters of support for this exchange because of the public benefit that would be obtained from BLM ownership of the Sutey Ranch, which is a beautiful and historic 500-acre ranch located directly adjacent to the north side of the Red Hill trail system in Garfield County. The Two Shoes Parcel that Mr. Wexner would acquire in the exchange located in Pitkin would have a permanent conservation easement placed on it prohibiting development.

Recently Mr. Wexner’s land exchange proposal has been enhanced to offer an even more direct benefit to Pitkin County and the BLM. Mr. Wexner has offered to give $950,000 to the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Program, and $50,000 to the BLM for a Sutey Ranch management study and strategy plan. Despite this additional monetary offer, it appears that the Pitkin County BOCC is prepared to not support this land exchange proposal following a recommendation by the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board to not support the exchange.

Many letters of support and numerous comments from both Garfield and Pitkin County residents have been made at previous meetings to ask for Pitkin County’s support. This exchange provides an excellent opportunity to greatly enhance the Red Hill area, which is an extremely popular Roaring Fork Valley recreation destination, and ensure no development occurs on the Sutey Ranch.

Unfortunately, the Pitkin County Open Space Board and the BOCC seem to view this land exchange as Pitkin County losing open space land and getting next to nothing in return. The reality is the BLM parcel located in Pitkin County proposed to be exchanged is not owned by Pitkin County, but is owned by the BLM and therefore owned by all citizens. The parcel just happens to be within Pitkin County lines. Public ownership of the Sutey Ranch would benefit all Roaring Fork Valley residents, but Pitkin County appears to be protecting its turf to the detriment of all residents.

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We, the members of the Red Hill Council, implore you to please consider attending the Pitkin County commissioners meeting today and expressing to them, as an elected official, how much all residents of this valley have to gain through this land exchange and urge the commissioners to provide the U.S. Congress a letter of support for this land exchange.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this important matter. Please direct any questions concerning this land exchange to me at (970) 963-7172. The council would be happy to provide you with additional information and details regarding the exchange.

Michael Wieczorek

treasurer, Red Hill Council

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