Vail CO, Colorado
It’s hard to see much more than a PR bid and a round of self-congratulating behind the county commissioners’ creation this week of an extra layer of protection for public land.
The so-called “Resource Preservation Zone District” restricts development on federal land in Eagle County on which development is already prohibited.
Its teeth come on the rare occasions when the U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management want to sell or swap land.
Both agencies are bit annoyed with the commissioners. The Forest Service pointed out, first of all, in a letter to the board that it may not even be legal for a county to tell the federal government what it can do with its land.
We smell a lawsuit.
Secondly, both agencies say the preservation zone may make it harder to swap land because no one will want land they can’t do anything with.
When these agencies make a trade, they usually want a private owner to give up some isolated tract of land way out in the wilderness, often surrounded by national forest or other public lands.
In exchange, the agencies will give up a sliver of land on the edge of town, or even, in some cases, in the middle of town. In most cases, its land the public doesn’t really use. In a recent swap, the Forest Service gave Vail some land near the Vista Bahn in exchange for more pristine land on the backside of Vail Mountain and south of Eagle.
If a frivolous county restriction had prohibited Vail from developing its piece of land as part of its “Front Door” project, the public wouldn’t have gotten more spectacular spots in return.
The county’s clueless conservation move seems only useful in preventing the public from getting such land in the future.
We smell a repeal.
” Matt Zalaznick for the Editorial Board