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The Federal Government — World's Worst Neighbor

Robert Frost’s Mending Wall ends “Good fences make good neighbors.” It is also true, but less poetic, that good neighbors maintain their property in a safe manner to prevent hazards on their land from harming neighbors.

Sadly, for a Colorado man, that is not the way the federal government views its duty to its neighbors, which is why late last month Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Michael Whited of Boulder County demanding the government fix the mess it made on his land.

In 1985, Michael Whited moved from Alabama to Colorado. A decade later, he bought a modest home in idyllic Fourmile Canyon where he and his wife have lived ever since. This area was mined from the mid-1800s into the early 1900s. Their next-door neighbor is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), on whose property stood a dated stone and concrete mining shed, which was built into the hillside, less than six feet from the Whited’s house.

In 2011, Mr. Whited, a mechanical engineer, knew the shed posed a hazard to him and his property, so he asked the BLM to remove it or to take other action to address the danger. The BLM gave him the runaround. In 2016, as he feared, the shed collapsed, sent concrete and boulders onto the walkway by his house, and uprooted trees driving them into his electrical panel. The BLM denied responsibility, asserted that it did not own the shed, argued that any cleanup was up to him, and warned him to stay off its land!

I wish I could say this is rare and the federal government is a good neighbor, but such things happen often and it is the world’s worst neighbor.

Thank you for supporting MSLFs efforts to hold the government liable.

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