Friday, February 10, 2017

Colorado Wild Public Lands enjoyed a small victory on Thursday upon hearing the news that the Interior Board of Land Appeals, a legal arm of the Department of the Interior, granted a request to temporarily stay the closing of the Sutey Land Exchange.

In response to Tuesday's announcement that the BLM was planning to close on the Land Exchange as early as Thursday, Colorado Wild Public Lands, a Basalt-based public lands advocacy group, submitted a request to enjoin the closing. Tuesday's BLM press release made no reference to the fact that Colorado Wild Public Lands has a pending appeal of the BLM's 2014 decision to proceed with the exchange.

The CWPL appeal, filed in December of 2014, asserts that the appraisals for the exchange do not accurately reflect the values of the lands in the exchange; these appraisals were commissioned by the proponents and beneficiaries of the exchange, not the BLM. CWPL had to file an action under the Freedom of Information Act in federal district court just to get BLM to release the appraisals to the public. BLM finally shared the appraisals, but only after the agency approved the land exchange. In an order from March of 2015, the IBLA, suggested that the agency should not proceed with the exchange, noting that if the exchange were to proceed prior to its decision on CWPL's appeal, the IBLA could direct the agency to undo the transaction.

The CWPL request for an injunction, submitted late Wednesday, is a rapid-fire response to the BLM's failure to notify CWPL of their intentions to proceed until a concurrent press release went out to local media two days before the closing; nor did the agency give any explanation as to why CWPL was not notified of the agency's intentions.

Colorado Wild Public Lands believes this action is one more demonstration of the agency's and the proponents' continuing attempts to obfuscate the balance between public and private benefit in this land exchange.

For more information, please contact:

Neil Levine, attorney for CWPL, 303-339-0800,

Hawk Greenway 970-948-0771,

Franz Froelicher 970-319-9083,