Conservatives should love it

Don Rogers

It’s an interesting twist when conservative thinkers suggest that government find ways to deny private property owners their right to develop instead of using market solutions such as purchasing the rights to future development.Why pay anything to the Bairs? Just make sure, through government action or inaction, that the 4,800-acre ranch in and around the eastern end of Glenwood Canyon could never be developed? My, my, how far we’ve come from the Sagebrush Rebellion.Yes, plenty of conservatives indeed would like the Eagle County commissioners to contribute $2 million of designated open space tax revenue to the $5.1 million purchase of the Bairs’ development (and mineral) rights in perpetuity. The approach to protecting open space fits capitalistic philosophy much better than the socialist, at-times overbearing interference of government locking up a citizen’s property rights. Right?

Even those tree-huggin’ open space libs understand the concept with the Bair Ranch project.The Bairs, for a fair price, sell their rights to develop the land in any major way. They continue paying taxes and making a living off the ranch in ways that preserve open space (easily confused with recreation land), the wildlife values and, yes, the scenery in and around Glenwood Canyon, a gem in itself. The land at the price of the conservation easement does not become public, however, beyond three miles of Colorado River frontage on the other side from I-70. To provide for the public value of preserving the open space, there’s no compelling need to do this, and certainly not to spend several times more for access that the public does not need, or in the main even want.The deal is a win-win for Eagle County, based on conservative values. How rich is that? D.R.

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