Letter: Wexner deal is bad policy
Wexner deal is bad policy
The time for public comment on the Wexner land-exchange issue is ending, and we understand that people have so many other things on their minds.
Nevertheless, we are writing, once again, to protest, in the strongest terms possible, the Sutey Ranch land exchange. This exchange is so wrong in so many ways that we cannot address them all.
First of all, the “environmental assessment of the proposal” trumpeted by the Burea of Land Management, was funded by the Wexners. Therefore, it cannot be credible or objective. This is a classic example of the fox guarding the henhouse. The BLM, from the beginning, has appeared to favor this proposal. A while back, the BLM noted in a public “Land Exchange Feasibility Analysis” that “Most of the funding for processing this exchange will be provided by the proponents.” Apparently the BLM supports private landowners instead of working to conserve public land.
This two-for-one exchange is short-sighted, ill planned and a blatant maneuver by a billionaire landowner to manipulate the community into allowing him to increase and consolidate his holdings to about 5,600 acres of private property, around the base of our beloved, signature mountain, Mount Sopris.
Steve Bennett, BLM field manager, was quoted in the Aspen Daily News (April 30), stating: “The BLM will only complete a land exchange if it is in the public’s interest.” In what universe is this exchange in the public’s interest? Once public land is traded away, it is gone. This exchange is setting a very bad precedent for future management of public lands. It shows that if you have enough money to hire enough lawyers and professional consultants, you can pretty much manipulate public agencies to get anything you want. The BLM and other agencies and boards, who are all supposed to guard the public trust, appear to be taken in by this scheme. Who then will protect public lands in the future?
Bad public policy, like bad law, will not stand.
Diane Kenney and John McCormick Carbondale
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