Letter from Eric Dillon

To: San Juan County Land Bank; San Juan County Council; Port of Lopez

I am writing to voice my strong opposition to the purchase of the Clure property by the Land Bank. My family has owned land for over 40 years next to the proposed Clure project.

I have included a number of interested parties on this ping but I am speaking directly to the Land Bank.   I am well aware of the flood of letters you have been receiving from concerned property owners objecting to the Clure purchase.   I won’t repeat all the facts of those opposing this transaction for you have dozens of letters doing that but clearly an outcry like this has to resonate with you for the people screaming are both concerned adjacent land owners and your neighbors.  I would also offer that most the folks screaming support both the good work the Land Bank has historically done as well as I suspect many are current or future contributors to the Land Bank, you need to pay attention to these voices.

Specifically, I urge you to be responsive to the outcry you have seen and take action that puts this project back into a thoughtful review process.   It should be clear to you that the process that was employed here was not conducted in an open and logical manner and that is not right especially for a non-profit group.   I sit on the boards of the Idaho Nature Conservancy as well as the Montana-based Prairie Foundation and have done several conservation easements on private land I own in Washington and Montana.   There are always sensitive issues around public works adjacent to private land and any projects that “open access up” have to be vetted and only done with strong local support.  You did not do thoughtful “impact” research here as well as you did not seek community support.   Often in my role with the conservancy we are looking into JV’ing with the local Idaho Land Banks and while I understand the LB mission I will tell you that with every property purchased and with every easement we put in place, we care deeply about the “locals” and the process employed.   Thru town halls and other means we listen to the community (especially those most impacted) before we make any decisions.    A community outcry like you are seeing on the Clure project has to be re-reviewed and re-opened.   Going forward with projects without the proper impact/environmental studies where there is overwhelming negative “local” outcry is just bad business and I would suggest counter to the charter the Land Bank was founded upon.

I urge you to stop the current transaction and conduct a thoughtful, open review with the community especially those private landowner neighbors most impacted.   Community leaders on this ping, I urge you to restrict this process with any legal means at your disposal for the Land Bank has not done proper work here and this cannot be how you want your wonderful island to operate.   Thanks for hearing me out….

Eric Dillon