One of the biggest challenges we face, is what we call “the aura of inevitability” surrounding the Sutey Exchange, this carefully cultivated notion that the exchange is “a done deal”, and there is nothing that can change the outcome. In the Press, there is a note of resignation to Bureaucracy and Big Money, and Politics which lends complacency when we need to stand up.
The most uncomplicated part of this exchange is that the carefully guarded appraisals omitted key components of a quality, free market appraisal to arrive at the low values the public will receive for their own land. The values in this exchange are inequitable; the appraisals say the BLM land is worth $2,500/acre, yet the proponent has paid an average of $17,000/acre for the surrounding private parcels.
Yet somehow the Gov’t appraisal services found many legal ways to skin off $14,500/ acre even though the land holds many big game animals, birds and wildlife and has large open southern public access border. A wildlife lover’s dream location is far away from roads and people yet the biggest appraisal devaluation occurs because you can’t drive a car on to it. We can’t drive cars up Mt. Sopris, Chair Mtn., Capitol Pk. or the Maroon Bells either.
Make no mistake; it is the public’s own estate. It is shared, owned and funded by the public for the benefit of the public. To those ends, it is our job, as the public to look out for it. Think about it. If you or I owned that land (which we do), and were forced to sell it to a singular neighbor at a price seven times lower than surrounding lands, there would be a small war.
This is the essence of what we are doing, and it is often buried in an exclamation of “there are also very good things about the exchange.” There are. But simply put, the exchange would be millions of dollars from equal. We are trying to show that the system doesn’t work, not only that it isn’t fair, as a matter of opinion. It doesn’t pay the public what it is owed.
We feel it is our obligation, as beneficiaries of this public estate, to also be its champions. We didn’t choose this project, it chose us. We didn’t nose in on other people’s business, or even have a personal stake in the outcome, except as citizens and beneficiaries of the public estate. We do this on our own because it’s blatantly wrong.
Now we need help. If the exchange does proceed, it does so displaying the inability of the system to protect the public estate and, more importantly, a disregard for the democratic spirit underlying the establishment of the public estate. That is the real danger in having the appraisal review and legal protest dismissed. So, let’s rally against these inequitable and legally questionable land exchanges. Join our growing numbers and help us to degrade the “aura of inevitability” surrounding this and other efforts to erode the public estate.