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County takes stand on public land transfer discussion

82 percent of county lands are public

by Crystal Kotowski

Gunnison County commissioners submitted and passed a final resolution articulating the county’s position on public land transfers to state ownership on February 21. Originally, the commissioners drafted a letter in January to be submitted to state and federal representatives. Last month, the commissioners and county attorney David Baumgarten agreed that the letter should be expanded into a formal county policy.

“I like that we’re putting it in the form of a resolution, also,” said commissioner Jonathan Houck.

The resolution highlights the significance of public lands as invaluable heritage and as the foundation to the natural and social environments, providing “as Wallace Stegner wrote—’geographies of hope’ and places in which ‘We are all each other’s consequences,’” the resolution reads.

“Whereas there is a reasonable apprehension that transfer of federal public lands available for public use to state ownership may devolve to ‘privatization’ of such lands—and the loss of this heritage, foundation, commitment and geography, now, therefore let it be resolved by the Board of County Commissioners of Gunnison County, Colorado to formally express its policy to oppose, generally, the transfer of federal public lands to state ownership,” the resolution concludes.

“So at this point we are looking to highlight this resolution with our delegation in D.C.?” asked commissioner Phil Chamberland. Commissioner John Messner confirmed the plan to send the resolution to the Capitol, and Houck added that the resolution should also be sent to state representatives as well as the governor.

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