Finally, After Key Congressman Complains
|Bureau of Land Management officials in Nevada have backed down on a scheme to keep the public in the dark until the agency had transferred millions of dollars worth of prime Clark County real estate to politically-favored mega-developers.|
|Acknowledging they had been
violating the federal agency's own regulations, BLM
officials announced last week they would reopen comment
periods on two major Nevada land swap proposals.
Before reversing field, BLM State Director Ann J. Morgan had defended the agency's intention to keep appraised values of the exchanged lands secret until public comment and protest periods had expired.
"Disclosure of such material could confuse the public ... and have a detrimental effect on our decisionmaking process," Morgan had argued in a December 24 letter. That date was already five days past the last day of the two comment periods. During the both periods, the BLM had rebuffed citizen inquiries about the appraisals, calling them "confidential."
One proposal, in its first phase, would give Del Webb Corporation 2,500 acres of public land in southeastern Las Vegas Valley, in exchange for a motley collection of private lands -- purchased by the company elsewhere in the state -- of supposed environmental interest to the federal government. In the next phase of Del Webb's over-all proposal, another 2500
acres of BLM land would
be similarly traded to the developer.
were fully briefed on
Hancock, who continues to monitor what he sees as
deteriorating federal land-swap practices in the state,
had actively sought, late last year, to inspect the land
appraisals for the Del Webb and ALC-PermaBilt Homes land
swaps. See EN's earlier,
January 12, report.
protest periods for these exchanges expired nearly one
month ago," wrote Hancock January 6, in a FOIA
appeal sent to the U.S. Department of Interior in
Washington. "All appraisal reports should have been
completed, approved, and available for public review at
the time the Notices of Decisions were issued.
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