Byars for Carbondale trustee |

Byars for Carbondale trustee

Katrina Byars
Carbondale trustee candidate
Katrina Byars
Staff Photo |

My name is Katrina Byars. I am a lifelong local, and I am committed to protecting the Thompson Divide from oil and gas development. My decision to run for town council in Carbondale stems from my primary intention to do everything possible to ensure that our water and shared natural resources are protected for generations to come.

Our drinking water is our greatest asset. Our true wealth is in these mountains. We ski, hunt, fish, hike, camp, ride and graze our cattle in the Thompson Divide. Our quality of life here is tied to the health of our ecosystem. The sage shrublands, pinyon juniper forests, cottonwood galleries, aspen forests, gambel oak stands and mountain meadows create habitat that supports elk, deer, bighorn sheep, the lynx and many other species. Our rivers and streams are the headwaters of a water supply that supports more than 8 million people, and we would be wise to ensure its protection.

The geology in this area can not bear the burden of oil and gas development. The complex and folded seams of crumbling shale are not stable enough to withstand oil and gas exploitation. Our communities are unified for that Thompson Divide, and together we can write appropriate legislation to ensure protection of our watershed from tragedies like those that have occurred in Parachute Creek and Divide Creek.

The world is changing, and it is time for our leadership to take responsibility in creating a better future for our communities. If natural gas is a bridge fuel, then we need to cross the bridge, and ask our energy industry, and local governments to invest in renewable energy resources. The people working in the field work hard to bring us the resources we demand, and an industry shift toward renewables like wind and solar provides the energy jobs people rely on, and establishes a secure energy supply for our future. We need renewable energy now.

While protecting the Thompson Divide is my primary issue, we have several very important decisions to make in our community. With an ethic of supporting small local businesses, a commitment to investing in renewable energy, and an intention of social equality we are moving towards a more sustainable future. The recession changed the face of our small mountain towns, and I watched powerlessly as friends lost their jobs and homes to foreclosure. Many small businesses did not survive the downturn. People have faced desperate times, but the resiliency of our community is reflected in the persistence of small independent businesses like Theresa’s Market, Aloha Mountain Cyclery, Ragged Mountain Sports, Carbondale Community Food Coop and many others who have persevered in an uncertain economic climate. Spending our money at independently owned local businesses stabilizes our local economy and supports a healthy community.

There is a part of our community that lacks a voice in our local politics … the Spanish-speaking community. In every place I have ever worked in this valley, Spanish-speaking immigrants were there, doing the hardest work, making the least amount of money, and facing institutional racism that has created an atmosphere of fear in people simply trying to live their lives and support their families. I have many friends and neighbors that have worked hard, raised their children here, and contributed to the community yet face constant threat and hardship because of their status. When one group of people have different rights than another group of people, we have not yet arrived at social justice. We can do better.

A democratic election is an important opportunity to bring to the table the issues that affect our lives, and our communities. We are truly fortunate to live in such an abundant place, where so much is possible, and it is possible for us to live in a way that ensures the sustainability of our communities well into the future. We all need clean water, and a vibrant local economy to attain our means of survival. Our local culture represents a broad range of views, and though we may not always agree, we always have a common ground.

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