During Public Comment Period
Nevada BLM Blocks Access of Public
To Major Land-Swap Appraisals
By Steve Miller
copyright © 1996, Electric Nevada
|Bureau of Land Management officials in Nevada say they intend to prevent any public review of pending land-swap appraisals by the agency until it has deeded over to developers federal land in Clark County worth millions of dollars.|
of such material could confuse the public ... and have a
detrimental effect on our decisionmaking [sic]
process," said BLM State Director Ann J. Morgan.
Her statement, in a letter dated Dec. 24, was made five days after the public comment period had ended for Phase 1 of Del Webb Corporation's pending exchange for 5,000 acres near Sky Harbor Airport in Henderson.
During the entire public comment period, BLM officials had rebuffed citizen inquiries about the appraisals, calling them "confidential."
Inspector General auditors from the U.S. Department of Interior last year criticized Nevada BLM for alleged under-appraisals said to have effectively diverted millions of dollars in federal land-sale profits from U.S. taxpayers to favored land-brokers active in the Clark County real estate market.
In just four land swaps, said a draft audit report leaked in June to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada BLM officials cost taxpayers at least $12 million. At least $4.2 million of that involved agency officials' under-appraisals of federal land being passed to deeding away, said the report.
audit had been triggered by a 1994 letter written the
Interior I.G. by the former chief appraiser for the BLM
in Nevada, Charles Hancock, of Reno. Hancock retired from
the BLM in late 1989 but has continued to monitor what he
saw as deteriorating land-exchange practices.
for review," he
wrote. "They are needed for a timely analysis prior
to expiration of their comment periods, December 19 [Del
Webb] and December 11 [PBH / ALC], respectively."
for this denial is
Steve Palmer, Assistant Regional Solicitor, Office of the
Solicitor, Sacramento, California."
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