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Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

I have read a couple of letters responding to Ross Talbott’s column of April 10, in which he wrote, “Our society has sunk to a level where people are more passionate about protecting animals …” I would like to point out that both responses seem to be ignoring the operative word in the phrase, “more.”

I agree with Mr. Talbott. While the letter-writers make good points, they are avoiding the central point Mr. Talbott is making, if I may speak for him.

Mark Whittington



Glenwood Springs

I’ve been planning, designing and developing real estate for over 45 years all over the world. For the past 20 years I’ve focused on smart growth, primarily in downtowns, convinced that our current suburban growth pattern is unsustainable for many reasons: traffic congestion, energy consumption, agricultural and wildlife habitat disruption, social isolation, unhealthy chauffeuring, etc.



These are familiar mantras from environmentalists, energy conservationists, mass transit advocates, etc. However, in my view, the most important reason for reining in suburban expansion is cost. Spreading out is really, really expensive for households and government at all levels.

The rudiments of smart growth are mixed uses with upper floor high density housing in existing centers, available mass transit, ability to walk or bike to desired destinations, high quality public services (schools, shopping, libraries, etc.) and proximate recreation opportunities – all attributes of Glenwood’s city center.

With the addition of the confluence area properties, downtown Glenwood Springs has the potential to be an exemplary smart growth model because, unlike most downtowns, the area is predominantly in public ownership: city, county, school district and RFTA.

In my long-tooth experience I’ve never encountered a site and circumstances where the stars seem so aptly aligned to accommodate smart growth while simultaneously addressing the region’s major growth issues – affordable housing, traffic congestion and open space preservation.

The confluence area’s spectacular setting along the rivers, immediacy to downtown amenities (a maximum five-minute walk), great bus service, direct access to the valley-wide trail system and nearly unlimited recreation activities offers an absolutely unique opportunity to unite downtown with the rivers in smart growth fashion.

The city is already making great strides toward becoming a smart downtown with the approved new library/CMC complex and the proposed new mixed use project behind the Forest Service building.

What’s needed now is lots of high density downtown housing (at least half affordable housing) to support downtown businesses and facilitate a permanent workforce, especially public employees. The confluence lands offer the prospect for innumerable people to live in a truly wonderful place.

Don Ensign

Carbondale

This month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Sportsman Heritage Bill.

Sounds like a great thing for all us hunters and anglers out there, right? It sounds good until you read it in its entirety and spend an hour or so Googleing the actual meaning of the text.

While some portions do, in fact, benefit the hunting and angling communities, certain parts open the door to wholesale undermining of long-standing protections that have benefited those same sportsmen for decades.

Specifically, Section 104(e) (1) in H.R. 4089 would open wilderness areas to motorized vehicles, helicopters, road building and any other imaginable tool that is used for hunting or fishing, but is not allowed in wilderness. This would undermine world-class hunting destinations such as the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana, the Frank Church Wilderness in Idaho, and Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness right here in Colorado.

Section 104(e) (2) would allow industrial development of wilderness areas. Activities such as industrial logging and oil and gas drilling are inappropriate for our nation’s wilderness areas. Also, there are problems with language under 104(1) (b) and 104(1) (c) that would prohibit adequate NEPA review of management decisions. The way the language is written in this section, it could actually result in less hunting opportunity.

In reality, expanding wilderness protection (the gold standard for wildlife habitat and backcountry hunting/angling grounds) for public lands enhances hunting and fishing and our economy and quality of life.

Unfortunately, today only 5 percent of Colorado is designated wilderness: just 3.5 million acres out of 66 million. And only 2.5 percent of the Lower 48 is protected as wilderness. That’s simply not enough.

Although OHV (and other) groups constantly oppose wilderness protection on “access” grounds, only 8 percent of the national forest acreage in Colorado lies beyond one mile of a road (only 4 percent for BLM lands.)

The hunting and fishing heritage and the ability to feed our families that we currently enjoy should not be taken for granted. Don’t let covert assaults on that heritage destroy it, despite sympathetic sounding names.

Bob Shettel

Redstone

This is in response to Mary Boland’s April 12 column, “A tale of two hospitalizations.”

Yes, I do understand that medical care in Costa Rica is a lot cheaper. But teachers work for an average of $300 to $800 a month with very little retirement. And does the Costa Rican health insurance cover them when they travel abroad? I think not.

As a tourist, Ms. Boland probably got the best treatment available along with other prominent people in that country.

I also recently spent some time in St. Mary’s Hospital. I was there for a little over a month. You can imagine what the bill was, well over $150,000 dollars. And thanks to the economy, I was out of work and had no insurance for the first time in 30 years.

St. Mary’s knew this when I was admitted. I still got a private room as described in Ms. Boland’s article and the best care anyone could ask for.

When it was all done, I had no way of paying my bill. I was contacted by the finance department after I was released in order to take care of my bill. And what kind people they were. They knew I wouldn’t be going back to work (even if the economy was good) for a long time.

After spending time with the finance department to work out some kind of monthly payment they told me I owed them $154. At first I was shocked and told the kind lady I could not afford $154 per month. With a kind giggle and a nice smile she explained to me that was the total bill. I would have to pay $12.84 a month for one year. I asked her what government program had paid for this bill. She said there is no government program that paid, it was all private donations that had paid my bill.

Yes, Ms. Boland, I would rather live in the U.S.A. and rely on the kindness of its citizens than live in Costa Rica and rely on the government, even if it is cheaper.

Steven Elmore

Rifle


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