The appraisals use the comparable sales method of determining the values of the respective properties. The Glacier Club and the Forest Service needed a value for the property near Chris Park that was approximately equal to the contrived, less-than-arms-length sales to Glacier Club of the "in-holdings" that are the properties involved in the exchange. The number needed to be about $2.5 million or about $10,000 per acre.
The appraiser chose four properties for "comparable sales." Two of the sales chosen were the properties involved in the exchange, the virtually inaccessible Mitchell Lakes property the Glacier Club has an option to buy for $10,000 per acre, and the seasonally inaccessible Hermosa Park property that the Glacier Club purchased in 2007 for $6,250 per acre.
The appraiser chose to ignore the sale of a 35-acre horse pasture, across U.S. Highway 550 from the Chris Park property, that sold in 2007 for $27,173 per acre and another 160-acre parcel one mile up Highway 550 that sold in 2006 for $43,672 per acre. There were numerous other sales in the Highway 550 corridor that sold for an average price of about $27,000 per acre.
However, these values would not produce the desired $10,000 value for the Chris park property the exchange required. So the appraiser used the remote in-holdings and an 800-acre property east of Bakers Bridge in order to come up with the desired number. I don't understand how inaccessible properties several miles away and miles off the Highway 550 corridor are comparable, and a 35-acre parcel across the road is not.
Using a value of $27,000 per acre, the Chris Park land would be worth $6.5 million and would kill the exchange.
This is your land the Forest Service has given away.
I suspect the swap was consummated on or about Aug. 10, when the report was delivered to the parties.
Pristine, accessible, historic forest property lost forever. See the 712-page appraisals at www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan/projects/projects.shtml, and what you can do at www.savehaviland.org.
Grover Barker, Durango