Last week the U.S. Forest Service released the almost-final version of the Colorado Roadless Rule. For the past six years, we and our partners in the conservation community have been trying to make the best of this unnecessary state-specific roadless rule. While the latest version is considerably improved over earlier drafts, it’s still disappointing.Why disappointing? Because we already have a federal Roadless Rule, and it does a better job of protecting roadless areas.The Obama administration promised that the Colorado Rule would be at least as strong as the federal one, but it falls short by several objective measures.Most important to folks here locally, it fails to explicitly prohibit road construction on “gap” oil and gas leases, many of them in the Thompson Divide. These are oil and gas leases in roadless areas that were issued after the federal Roadless Rule took effect. We’ve been asking the Forest Service for years to make it clear that road building isn’t permitted on those leases, but they’ve opted out of such an explicit statement in this rule.In addition, the almost-final Colorado Roadless Rule contains a gigantic loophole for logging in the guise of fuels reduction, and other exceptions for coal mining, utility corridors and ski-area expansion.I say “almost-final” because the rule is subject to a 30-day final review period before publication. During this period the Wilderness Workshop will continue to push for specific changes to get the rule into a shape we can live with.Colorado’s forests should not get second-class treatment. So, while we applaud the improvements that have been made in this rule over the years, we cannot yet support a Colorado-specific rule that manages the majority of our roadless backcountry to a weaker standard than the one which will continue to protect national forests in other states across America.Peter HartWilderness WorkshopCarbondale
We have the possibility of a good tourist season coming up.Tourists over the last 10 years have heavily used the Ride Glenwood system each summer.To make the three months of summer the “test” for the bureaucrats in city hall to use for a study of the new $1 per ride fare is insane. The town needs all of its resources to get tourists to Glenwood and to get them to come back.Visitors who used the free Ride Glenwood last year would have to cough up a dollar a ride per person. A family of four or five would just as likely skip the bus, adding to traffic congestion. Driving trips to downtown can become unpleasant because of parking problems, and those kinds of issues sure would not be an incentive for visitors to return.A “dollar a day” pass on the bus would look like a heck of a deal and would hopefully get visitors to return.Readers have probably seen the studies on the cost of obtaining a new customer versus the cost of keeping an existing customer.Over a five-year period, businesses may lose as many as half of their customers. Acquiring a new customer can cost six to seven times more than retaining an existing customer. Businesses that boosted customer retention rates by as little as 5 percent saw increases in their profits ranging from 5 percent to a whopping 95 percent. Attention to a customer retention program will pay dividends in diamonds to those wise enough to make the investment.Chris McGovernGlenwood Springs
Before ignorantly condemning the United States of America for its participation in slavery, consider this:Slavery has existed since the beginning of human history. Slavery still exists today. It began at least 10,000 years ago when African people would sell other African people (even their own family members) to their neighbors or European traders as a perverted form of indentured servitude. America was not the inventor of slavery, just a new customer. And, like any youth, we perhaps mistakenly engaged in an inappropriate act because it was a commonly-accepted practice for the time.As a nation, the United States briefly dabbled in slavery for less than 200 years – a singular drop in the ocean of time. And we ended its practice at the cost of our dearest blood and treasure – pitting father against son, friend against neighbor, family against fortune, and patriot against country. We then changed our laws and teachings to ensure that people of any race could receive equal protection of life and liberty. We realized, we stopped, and we definitely paid the price.Compare our nation with how any other society on Earth treats other races, including their own indigenous peoples. It is undeniably clear that the United States has done more for human and civil rights than any other two nations combined. Through civil, legal, societal, and religious donations and organizations, we lead the world in eleemosynary humanitarianism. The world should follow our example.Edward WilksRifle
Predictably, columnist Ross Talbott is unimpressed with evolution. On this very point, some recent research in England has found evidence of physical differences between the brains of self-proclaimed liberals and conservatives. They made brain scans and found that there was significantly more brain development in the area of the cortex in liberals, and more development in the amygdala in conservatives. The cortex is involved in more upper-level thinking, and the amygdala is in a more primitive part of the brain involved in things such as self-preservation. Liberals are much more open to new ideas and challenges, and conservatives tend to be much more fearful and stick with established ideas. So we have an example of how human evolution has produced two types of people, both of which have survived, until now at least, by making a useful contribution to the success of humans. As we know, many many species have gone extinct over the years for failure to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Can readers see where I might be going with this?Over thousands of years, liberals have pushed forward to advance knowledge, create technology, and embrace other cultures. At the same time, conservatives have worked to ban books, deny the vote to women, and start wars. Assuming there is a creator that designed all this, what the heck was he, she or it thinking?Patrick HunterCarbondale
In the next few days, Holy Cross Energy customers will receive a ballot for election of the board of directors.I am asking these voters to consider me. I have been a member since 1980, am married with two children, a Colorado native, currently living in Edwards, and in Eagle County for over the past 30 years.I am running for the board of directors in order to represent and be an advocate for the Holy Cross Energy cooperative. Our future will bring a number of legislative, financial and environmental questions which Holy Cross will be challenged by. As a board member I will work to keep energy prices fair, stable and affordable. I believe strongly in the need for fairness and sustainability as Holy Cross faces many new challenges.I have served on multiple boards, including Edwards Metro District, Western Eagle County Recreation District, and Special District Association of Colorado. Those who know me, know I am an active member of the community.I am a retired deputy chief of operations for the fire department, overseeing a multi-million dollar budget. Living in Edwards for the past 30 years, I have seen our communities struggle with the economic downturn, loss of revenue and jobs. I promise to listen to the needs of our customers and Holy Cross to insure long-term economic stability and clean sustainable energy.As a father of two adult children who have now returned establish new roots in this beautiful valley, I see the need for long-term reliable energy. I believe Holy Cross Energy is important to our communities. We must look at the best and cleanest way to provide a reliable and affordable energy solution to the entire community.I urge you to fill out the ballot, mail it in, and lastly, please vote for me.John McCaulleyEdwards
We should all celebrate the impact of innovative programming, such as the expansion of home visiting services, when it comes to the recently reported 19 percent national decrease in the number of substantiated child abuse and neglect victims. However, an economic impact analysis just released by Prevent Child Abuse America estimates that, despite this improvement, child abuse and neglect will still cost taxpayers nearly $80 billion in 2012 alone.The report, “Estimated Annual Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect,” is the third in a series of economic impact studies, following reports in 2001 and 2007. This report was co-authored by Dr. Richard Gelles and Dr. Staci Perlman.In Colorado, the total annual cost has been estimated at $1,366,617,000. The fact is, these costs, and the adverse outcomes associated with not preventing child abuse and neglect, are unacceptable. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure the healthy development of all children.James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO Kendra Dunn, Executive DirectorPrevent Child Abuse America Denver
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Grand Junction man Bruce Holder, 55, faces up to life in prison and a $20 million fine after a jury convicted him on charges related to the overdose death of a Carbondale man.