Frank Breslin & Mary NooneRifle, CO Colorado

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July 11, 2012
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Legacy Project preserves county's diverse lands

We know that Garfield County is an amazing place to live, raise a family and establish roots. As transplants - Frank more than 35 years ago and Mary in 1981 - we have embraced Garfield County for its beauty, recreation and economic opportunity. The breathtaking vistas and natural resources have a value, both personal and economic, to us. We have also lived and worked here long enough to realize the ebb and flow of the county's economic fortunes. Western Colorado, indeed many places in the west, historically had to cope with the ups and downs of local economic fortunes. We know it well in Garfield County: In 1982, the oil shale boom of the late 1970s suddenly stopped as Exxon pulled its operations out of the area, creating economic hardship and uncertainty. Today, we are experiencing another swing in the economy as the county seeks to balance our amazing energy resources with future growth and economic security.The constant is the unmatched beauty of the land, well-stewarded by the hard-working families of the Colorado and Roaring Fork River valleys, and the uniqueness of each of the six distinct communities in the county. From Carbondale in the shadows of Mount Sopris to Parachute at the epicenter of energy development, Garfield County has it all.This unmatched diversity is something that should not be taken for granted. We feel now is the time to safeguard the vistas and grandeur of the landscape and natural assets of the county for future generations. Twenty of Colorado's 64 counties currently have some sort of program that provides modest funding to support their water resources, wildlife and working ranches. We believe that now is the time to create an open land program for Garfield County.Through the Garfield Legacy Project, we have worked with the County Commissioners to create a program that fits our unique character. We support the creation of an open lands and recreation economy program that embraces the following core principles:• Keep private lands in private hands. We support voluntary land conservation with willing private landowners.• Keep decisions local. Projects are reviewed by a volunteer advisory board composed of county citizens.• Minimize government involvement. We propose a 5 percent cap on revenues used for administrative purposes.• Automatic expiration of the program after 10 years.• Keep it transparent. An annual independent report will be produced to ensure wise money management. A modest sales tax of one-quarter of one percent, or 25 cents on every $100, would provide the necessary funding for such a program. Because we are such a visitor and industry destination, only 40 percent of the revenue would be borne by county residents, and that cost averages out to less than $40 per year. Three dollars and change a month. A small price to pay for what is priceless.We want our children and our grandchildren to know there will always be working farms and ranches, protected rivers and access to those rivers, wildlife habitat for hunting and fishing, and world-class recreation opportunities. This is another valuable option for local landowners in lieu of development. Now is the time. For more information on the Garfield Legacy Project, go to www.garfieldlegacy.org and be one more voice saying "Yes In My Back Yard" to an open lands program in Garfield County. Mary Noone co-chairs the Garfield Legacy Project and lives in Glenwood Springs. Frank Breslin is a supporter of the Garfield Legacy Project and lives in New Castle.


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The Post Independent Updated Jul 11, 2012 05:33PM Published Jul 11, 2012 05:33PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.