Joe & Linda SkinnerBEHAVIORISMSGrand Junction Free Press Columnists

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March 28, 2013
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THE SKINNERS: Renewing our resources & ourselves

HE SAID: It is always so hard to decide where to go in the spring. As I was withdrawing money for trip, the bank teller told me other customers were headed to warm and sunny Mexico. But no, not us; you chose to go West to northern California because you wanted to see the redwoods and ocean. Spring has not sprung hardly anywhere along the way. To avoid a storm cell over Salt Lake City, we took historic US 50, dubbed by AAA and Life magazine as "the loneliest road in America." Vast vistas spanned hundreds of miles of sagebrush and scrubby cedars. We drove some exceptionally long sections of straight road as we followed the old Pony Express route across the basin and range topography. At some point the lack of traffic and amenities made me wonder what would happen if we broke down.SHE SAID: There just is no pleasing you. If we had traveled somewhere warm, you would have complained about the drunken college kids. You are the one who always wants to "get away from it all." You cannot get much further away than the middle of Nevada. We saw maybe 10 cars in 250 miles. The lack of cell service for most of the trip was a sure sign that we are away from it all, and still you grouse. Besides, I chose northern California to avoid the bad weather in the rest of the country. We had good weather for the long, straight stretches in Nevada, which were then replaced by 36 miles of 20 mph curves through the giant redwoods to reach the coast. Fortunately, the stressful driving at night was replaced by my pleasure of sitting on a porch and listening to the roll of the waves. After traveling hundreds of miles through "desert" from our dusty Grand Junction home, the need to be around lots of water was even greater. HE SAID: The dry Nevada lake beds, in places were the aboriginal Indians once flourished, reminded us how precious and necessary water is to human settlement. People live where they can obtain water. That's why the population of our "happy valley" will continue to grow to our limits, but Cisco, Utah, will never attract a population to support a Walmart.Water is one of those resources that can be replenished if nature is willing. Such resources are much different from those that are extracted and gone forever. The boom and bust cycle of the Nevada mining towns is a stark comparison to the fertile central valley of California where crop after crop is harvested because of the sustainable agricultural practices.Hopefully, we will continue to have sufficient snow melt, but we can be sure that some day our natural gas will be gone. Water in Colorado "runs uphill to money." Water that used to flow naturally past Grand Junction was diverted years ago to northern Colorado and Denver to support their economic expansion. Fortunately, huge numbers of people from the crowded and polluted Eastern Slope now want to experience the natural beauty of the Western Slope. Their tourist dollars are a sustainable resource. In the long run those sustainable dollars will outpace the total dollars of the extractive industries if we offer them the space and views they want.Unlike the pioneers who came West and had seemingly unlimited natural resources to exploit, we know that we have to preserve what we have. If we destroy those things that attract the tourist and visitor money, then we ruin not only our future but the prosperity of our children. Our landscapes, our trails, and our areas of solitude are the best economic resources we have. They don't require huge capital outlays to enjoy, but they do require that we protect and preserve them.SHE SAID: That is true for many places. The northern coast of California would not be the beauty spot it is if all the redwoods had been logged or if the beaches were all private and developed. The string of parks along the Colorado River is very similar to the string of state parks from Fort Bragg to Point Arenas. It allows anyone, including mummified western Coloradans, a chance to play on the beach and in the forest. We need to keep supporting the efforts of those who seek to link all of those memorable areas in our valley.The Skinners hope you all have a chance to get away and enjoy the beauty of nature. They can be reached at

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The Post Independent Updated Mar 28, 2013 02:18PM Published Mar 28, 2013 02:17PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.