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Bunker Road, litigation points inaccurate

Aug 17, 2012 - Douglas L. Thompson, Chairman, Fremont County Commission

Editor:

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss Fremont County issues associated with commission election. Up to this point, it seems this has been a cosmetic campaign --signs and slogans. Finally, candidates have put their ideas and platforms in front of the public through the newspaper.

I am obligated to correct a couple of issues in Red Fyler's positions. He states in the Bunker Road context that a Bureau of Land Management parcel is going to be part of a property exchange in the future.

This is not exactly a done deal, nor may it ever be. Any land owner can nominate public land for disposal by sale, exchange, or trade, and the Hansen brothers have done as much for the parcel associated with Bunker Road.

In fact, on page 126 of the Draft Resource Management Plan it says that 5,436 acres have been nominated for possible disposal.

The wording is misleading. It says "available for disposal", but it means" have been nominated."

There is a full public hearing process required before any federal land is disposed of. Each proposal must be analyzed and is subject to opposition from neighbors and the general public.

If you are interested in the details, refer to Appendix S, Pages 1521-1532 of the Draft RMP. Further, call the realty specialist at the BLM and learn the process. I know this because I have worked on the RMP and associated issues for seven years, I know the policies and requirements.

So to say the commission should not have opened access to public land by Bunker Road because it is going to the Hansen brothers is not exactly correct.

One other inaccuracy was the cost of litigating the county districting. To imply that $830,000 came out of the general fund and, therefore, the county is impoverished is not correct. The ACLU is charging $425 per hour for attorney fees, and that amount is being challenged by our attorney, since it should be around $275 per hour. The real cost should be less than implied. Further, all but $5,000 (our deductible on our liability policy) is paid by our liability carrier. Now the cost of the appeal is on the county and is a little over $80,000, which is again the billing amount and should be less.

The other option to avoid all these costs was to cave in to the ACLU. I and my fellow commissioners believed this was a fight worth fighting, but we considered the costs carefully.

Thanks for the chance to set the record straight.

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