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POLITICSAUGUST 20, 2010
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Land Swap Triggers Colorado Dust-Up
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DENVERBillionaire energy magnate William Koch's 4,500-acre cattle ranch in western Colorado is split in two by a largestrip of federal landand he wants to change that.The government land includes a road that takes hunters and hikers into a popular national forest, but some visitors stray and trespass onto Mr. Koch's property, according to his ranch manager. So Mr. Koch wants to take title to the federal landand close the roadby swapping the parcel for land he owns elsewhere in the West.But the way the swap would be executed has drawn criticism in the region. Because the proposal involves multiple federalagencies and land in two states, the deal can't be dispensed with through normal administrative process, which include localpublic hearings and a thorough environmental review. Instead, it must be handled by Congress, through legislationmandating the swap.That legislation has been introduced by Rep. John Salazar, a Democrat who represents the region (and who is the brother of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar) and who has received campaign contributions from Mr. Koch."There is always suspicion around a deal like this that is benefitting someone who is wealthy and influential...and this hasnot been a real open, public process," said Janine Blaeloch, director of the Western Lands Project, a nonprofit group thatmonitors land swaps and generally is opposed to transfers of public land into private hands.Mr. Koch's spokesman said he also has given to other Democratic candidates and causes, as well as to some Republicans."We support candidates where we do business," saidBrad Goldstein, a spokesman for Mr. Koch, adding thatthere is no "quid pro quo."
Billionaire William Koch wants to trade land elsewhere to acquire a strip of federal land, including the road seenabove, that separates sections of his 4,500-acre ranch in Colorado.
Page 1 of 2Proposed Land Swap Triggers Colorado Dust-Up - WSJ.com#printMode8/23/2010http://online.ws .com/article/SB10001424052748703791804575439820252151734.html