Thomas Chapman built a luxury home inside Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to make a point: Unless the federal government is willing to pay top dollar to preserve the land, they have no claim on it.
MONTROSE, Colo.—The luxury home that Thomas Chapman built on the lip of the magnificent Black Canyon here isn’t just an investment. It’s a provocation. Mr. Chapman, a small-town real-estate broker, has made a controversial career trading scattered parcels of private land that sit inside national forests and national parks. On behalf of his clients or his business partners, he talks up plans to develop the parcels: a subdivision at a scenic overlook, an RV park on a canyon rim, a rustic estate inside a remote wilderness area. Sometimes he even brings out the bulldozers. Environmentalists sound the alarm. And often, the government or conservationists come with money or a land swap to buy him out, saving the cherished parcel from development—and making Mr. Chapman money.
By Stephanie Simon, Oct 2, 2010 WSJ