"I say, don't buy it. Let's play his bluff," says Colorado Republican Rep. Scott McInnis. "He wants the Forest Service to panic. He wants the Park Service to panic. He wants everyone to panic so they'll buy him out."
"I have no doubt that if we buy him out, he would turn around and buy another inholding," adds Sean Conway, press secretary to Colorado Republican Sen. Wayne Allard.
Despite the current outcry, the Park Service says it wants to buy the privately owned lots. But the agency may come up short: Its preliminary estimates place the fair-market value of the lots at around $1,000 an acre. TDX, the company Chapman is involved with, is asking $4,750 an acre. To avoid paying that asking price, Colorado Rep. Mark Udall, a Democrat, introduced an amendment to the bill upgrading the monument to a national park. The amendment would have condemned the lots and paid TDX market value, but the attempt was blocked on procedural technicalities.
Black Canyon Superintendent Sheridan Steele says a land swap is unlikely because the Park Service has little land to trade, and paying more than market value would require an act of Congress. "All we can do is offer fair market value," says Steele. "We can't under law offer anything more than that."
Chapman did not return phone calls, and his lawyer, Aaron Clay of Delta, Colo., refused to answer any questions.
* Tim Westby
- The taxpayer money that fuels federal land transfer demands
- Latest: California fracking companies inject protected aquifers with wastewater
- Obama's preemptive strike to reform Endangered Species Act
- Wyoming trespass law is the latest in grazing battle
- Sightseeing at an open pit mine in Arizona copper country
- Bette Korber on The Los Angeles wetland wars
- Garrett Allen on The view from 31,000 feet: A philosopher looks at fracking
- Robb Cadwell on The view from 31,000 feet: A philosopher looks at fracking
- Amy & Chris Gulick on The view from 31,000 feet: A philosopher looks at fracking
- Richard H Ernst on The taxpayer money that fuels federal land transfer demands