Sparks fly in State Land Board dispute |

Sparks fly in State Land Board dispute

A spokesman for the Colorado’s attorney general shot back Monday at accusations by an Eagle County commissioner that the attorney general was inactive in trying to stop a State Land Board deal for 1,280 acres in Edwards.

“They’re the ones who caved in to highly-paid lobbyists and attorneys,” countered Stone, a Republican. “This is not a partisan attack at all. It was partisan dealings by the Senate Democrats that sank the bill in the state Legislature. I think in an election year they didn’t want Republicans to come up with an environmental solution to this problem.

“It seemed he was more interested in getting his picture taken than actually getting anything done,” added Stone.

Salazar visited Eagle County last October to tour the 640-acre Arrowhead parcel – an event organized by Eagle County officials.

In a letter to the Vail Daily, Salazar said he was surprised by Stone’s recent comments.

“My personal view on the lands in question has been that those lands should be preserved from development,” wrote Salazar. “Indeed, I have worked hard to develop a solution to this complex dispute that (1) would preserve the lands from development, and (2) would protect the children of Colorado who are the beneficiaries of these trust lands.”

Salazar said he has held several meetings with all the parties of interest to seek a workable settlement.

“I publicly supported Senate Bill 104. I personally met with key senators to get their support when the measure appeared to be doomed,” said Salazar. “I personally appeared before the Senate Agricultural Committee and testified for SB 104.

“And finally, I offered several times to assist Mr. Walcher on the legislation when it went through the House of Representatives.”

Stone said the issue transcends partisan politics, and it’s unfortunate the Democrats have turned it into a political issue. Gov. Bill Owens has found a solution by directing Natural Resources Director Greg Walcher to invoke a 1973 law to stop the deal, Stone said, while Salazar has not.

As Colorado’s attorney general, Salazar defends state agencies and officials in legal disputes.

Stone said Salazar needs to concentrate on finding ways to get the State Land Board out of what he called “an unenforceable” contract with Brotman.

“He has defended Brotman for three and a half years,” said Stone. “He has not defended the people of Colorado or the school children. The time has come for him to do the right thing.”

Salazar said he is proud of his record working for the people of Colorado, and in the protection of its environment. He pointed out that he was the first chairman of Great Outdoors Colorado. He said he is a key proponent of the Colorado Crown Jewels initiative, too, and has worked on numerous land conservation efforts throughout the state.

“I believe I have done my part to help create a legacy of conserving our natural resources that will withstand the test of time,” Salazar said. “It is that interest in Colorado’s natural heritage that has led me to work on trying to resolve this dispute.”

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