The future of the Thompson Divide is important to many Coloradans.Over the last few years I’ve had several productive meetings with local residents, ranchers, advocacy groups and mineral leaseholders about the future management of this land. While perspectives certainly vary, I remain optimistic we can find a way forward that works for everyone involved.Earlier this month – at the request of local ranchers, the county commissions of Garfield, Pitkin and Gunnison counties, and several municipal governments – I posted a draft bill on my website that offers a middle ground solution on for the future management of Thompson Divide. It presents an option that would withdraw unleased public minerals in the area from future oil and gas development, while also preserving valid existing private property rights of current leaseholders. In essence, the bill would protect some of the most sensitive areas of the Thompson Divide, while still allowing the permitting process to proceed for companies that have already paid for leases in the area.I’d like to hear what people think about the bill. During a public comment period, I’m inviting anyone with an interest in the future of Thompson Divide to provide feedback on the bill through my website at http://www.bennet.senate.gov/thompsondivide.This draft is a start. Now, your thoughts and input will be critical to improving the bill and determining if we should introduce it in the Senate.U.S. Sen. Michael BennetWashington, D.C.
I understand that Bedrock Asphalt has submitted a revised application to locate its asphalt, rock and concrete crushing operation on the same site, adjacent to Eagle Springs Organics Farm (ESO), where the county commissioners have already denied their application for a hot asphalt batch plant. Once again, the P&Z recommends approval of the application, and the final decision is in the hands of the county commissioners.Approval of this application will indicate a belief that it will cause no adverse effect on the organic agriculture operation at ESO, which is immediately downwind. Approval will likely cause ESO to lose its organic certification, reduce the number of jobs at ESO, and may cause the farm to close and leave Garfield County entirely.Denial of this application will indicate that the many jobs at ESO are important to its citizens. The asphalt plant will not replace these jobs if they are lost. Denial would demonstrate that the commissioners consider Garfield’s public health to be more important than allowing this asphalt operation to be located here.I trust the commissioners are aware of the growing market share held by fresh organic produce, and that this is a burgeoning industry with great potential for local jobs. Organic food is not a passing fad, it is an indication that people are concerned with the healthful qualities of the food they serve their families.The summer of 2012 is heading for the record books as the hottest and driest for the U.S. I have read several reports indicating that we should expect to see sharply higher prices for food of all kinds, due to our current climate conditions.I truly hope that when these higher food prices become painfully evident this winter, we will all be grateful that the commissioners’ decision on this application was the right one.I urge them to deny the Bedrock Asphalt application, and show their support for organic farming in Garfield County.Michael ThompsonBasalt
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When I look back on my most significant learning moments — meaning, the times when I felt I had learned a skill or gained a truly impactful and resonant piece of information — very few…