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Link Correction-Groups file suit on stealth land exchange )
Link to the "recent LA Times Article" corrected (Paragraph below photo) August 29, 2006

Greetings!

I sincerely apologize for the connection to the wrong article. It has been corrected. Thanks, Joanne

Western Lands Project filed suit in federal district court today against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over a behind-the-scenes land trade in Nevada. Western Lands was joined in the challenge by the Nevada Outdoor Recreation Association.

At issue is a development called Coyote Springs. In a 1988 congressional land trade, manufacturer Aerojet acquired 42,000 acres of public land in Coyote Spring Valley north of Las Vegas to build a rocket testing facility. 14,000 acres in the middle of the property was set aside as protected desert tortoise habitat under a lease with the BLM. Aerojet subsequently decided against building and sold 28,000 acres of the non-leased land to Harvey Whittemore. In 2005, to accommodate Whittemore, the BLM issued a “corrective patent” to completely relocate 10,000 acres of the leased land so that he would have a contiguous piece of property. (A patent is an instrument conveying public land).

The BLM has stated that the new lease configuration would benefit the threatened desert tortoise, but the original configuration was designed under the same rationale. BLM did not prepare an environmental assessment before changing the boundaries, nor an appraisal to determine whether Whittemore was taking more valuable land. The backroom land exchange violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Federal Land Policy & Management Act (FLPMA).

Maps of the original and readjusted lease configurations are posted on our website.

If you would like a copy of the complaint please contact our Staff Attorney, Chris Krupp krupp@westernlands.org.

Now, Whittemore is starting construction of a new city on the site, with 150,000 homes and ten-plus golf courses.


Whittemore37k





BLM is flouting the law to help Harvey Whittemore turn this land into a new city.










In addition to the shift in the lease lands, Whittemore has benefited from legislation that moved an empty transmission line right-of-way off his land, opening up 11,000 more acres to housing development. For more on the legislation refer to a 2004 LA Times article. For more on the lease and Whittemore's development see a recent LA Times article.

Thank you to all of our members and supporters for your interest in these issues!

Joanne, Janine and Chris

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