On May 7, I attended the Garfield County commissioners’ meeting on changing the Land Use Code.
As a former certified project planner, I was very interested in how the county was planning for our future. When someone puts together a plan, they set out a goal and then look at objectives that will be required to meet the goal. They then look at the issues and risks that could impact their plan.
The goal as stated was to streamline the Land Use Code to make it easier for economic development, an admirable goal. I look at the biggest risk to planning the economic future of Garfield County to be centered on several factors.
How will environmental degradation from New Castle to Parachute be managed? Look at Google Earth or look at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission maps of well placements from New Castle to Parachute to see the impact. How will the county mitigate the risk of thousands of new wells? I cannot imagine mothers wanting their children to grow up in area where carcinogens are prevalent in the environment.
Managing water and its purity is another risk to economic development in Garfield County. Water in Colorado is spoken for and we are unsure how the changing climate will impact the desertification of Colorado or produce large swings in climate from drought to flood. I cannot imagine people wanting to move to Parachute or any other city whose future water supply will always be suspect.
People come to Colorado for the beauty and recreation. Imagine looking out on a sea of well pads stripped of vegetation. I think this is OK for the boom and bust people who are here only to secure their money and leave, but it is not a sustainable future.
My recommendation to the Glenwood Springs City Council is passage of a law preventing fracking in the city boundaries. The City Council should encourage the use of solar collectors and wind turbines by commercial electric providers and homeowners. Economic development is more than trading our beauty, air, and water for a few bucks.