Foes make case for ranch preservation |

Foes make case for ranch preservation

Don Rogers

Those loud critics of the Bair Ranch open-space deal are beginning to sound almost as if they’re cheering that dreaded conservation easement on.

Lately, they’ve been raising a din over the Bairs exploring their options besides an easement that would protect that land at the edges of scenic Glenwood Canyon from development.

Yes, the Bairs have been inquiring into the feasibility of building an RV park at their ranch! Horrors! These are very same folks who are entertaining an offer of $5 million to set up a means of preventing such visual blights on the historic ranch.

So which is it? Invest in what in reality is a stunning bargain – the county’s share is $2 million – to preserve that ranch? Or cast the Bairs to whatever private enterprise they can grab to make their property more profitable? It’s hard to tell whether the anti-Bair-easement folks are more appalled by the deal or the thought of an RV park.

Erroneously, even if it suits the rhetoric, these critics have tried to paint a picture of an easement AND an RV park. But, duh, such a development is precisely the sort of thing the easement would prevent. A better argument for the anti-easement types is this: The Bairs have been notoriously unreliable in negotiations for that easement, which may very well fall apart all on its own.

The land in question is a gem, well worth the interest the federal and state governments have shown in helping conserve it. Even an old-school conservative congressman such as Scott McInnis has thrown his weight into preservation.

But as a first step into open space acquistion, the county’s leaders in this arena have expended a lot of political capital on a controversial concept and all too fickle partners who continue to fish for other ways to use their land. The open space advocates are being played; it’s about as simple as that.

This makes the thought of buying rights to land that the public can only look at even less palatable, and the owners appearing less worthy of the effort.

Still, if you were the Bairs, you’d be looking at all your options, too. Land rich and cash poor is a real pickle. No wonder the county’s ranches have fallen like dominoes to development.

Those anti-easement folks need to sit down with themselves and sort out whether they look forward to driving by a KOA with accompanying interstate interchange on their way down the canyon to Glenwood or if maybe that easement makes just a smidgeon of sense after all.

They can’t have it both ways. The RV park they are decrying would not happen with an easement. But if they defeat the easement, well, they’ll have themselves to congratulate for the resulting blight.

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