A long-awaited auction of federal land in Lincoln County, Nev., ended in disappointment for regional officials and jubilation for environmentalists.
Only 112 of roughly 6,500 acres were sold for $110,000 in a auction officials had hoped would bring in at least $3.67 million.
Seven land-use and environmental groups argued that the Bureau of Land Management assessment overlooked concerns including harm to water supplies and plant and animal species.
BLM officials required potential bidders to sign forms acknowledging sales could be void and the land put back into public hands if protests filed by activists succeeded.
"It did indeed put a chilling effect that there were appeals out there," said Janine Blaeloch, director of the Seattle-based Western Land Exchange Project. "Who in their right mind would want to stick their neck out and make a bid when it might be rejected later?"