U.S. takes the politics out of land pricing

From Times wire reports

The Interior Department is overhauling its method for valuing federal lands, responding to repeated criticisms that its appraisers were under pressure from superiors to alter their estimates of publicly owned property being offered in land exchanges.

Under the new structure, announced Wednesday, land and mineral appraisals will be done by the new Office of Appraisal Services, essentially putting a firewall between political decisions and the valuation process.

The new office will be run by trained appraisers, with Brian Holly, chief appraiser for the Justice Department, as the interim director.

The change affects appraisers for the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation.

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