Letter: Outrageous land swap
I appreciate the Colorado Wild Public Lands effort to stop the Wexners from acquiring our public lands at the base of Mount Sopris. This issue is being spun by the Wexners’ lawyer as a “service” to our community, supposedly sparing the Two Shoes Ranch from oil and gas drilling. They are trading 557 acres near Carbondale for 1,260 acres on the flank of Mount Sopris, and 112 acres near Prince Creek for about 200 acres near Eagle. Both trades give them 2-for-1 deals on our public lands.
Wexner land manager Ian Carney states he hasn’t seen public use for at least six years. I have hiked on the property four times since finding out about the access a few years ago (I have dated photos). There are “No Parking” signs where the public access begins at Nettle Creek bridge off Highway 133, no sign, map or trail indicators to show the public where the trail is, so it’s small wonder that there is very little public traffic. The narrow trail climbs up through thick forest to orchid-filled wetlands and aspen glades, culminating in a beautiful view of the Lion’s Mane and Crystal and Roaring Fork valleys. Everyone I have taken up there is shocked that this public trail exists so close to town and no one knows about it, and also by the beauty of the area that the Wexners have been using essentially privately for years.
It is curious to me why the Wexners have to own the property when they can just continue to enjoy its use without having to pay taxes on it. I suspect they, or the future heirs of the Wexner fortune, will develop the property. Carbondale will have a glorious view of a housing development girdling Sopris someday. The fact that this land is being quietly shuffled into the Wexner portfolio is outrageous. Apparently the only thing I can do as a citizen now is write this letter. Pitkin County Open Space can give you directions, if you’d like to access this public land while you still can.
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