Am I the only one that wonders what goes on in the minds of Glenwood’s P&Z committee? The city of Glenwood asks for volunteers to participate in the making of a comprehensive plan for the city, and many other committees to set some “rules.” Then P&Z just blows those efforts away by approving a variance, for the never-ending additions to the hospital, by nearly three times the allowable height restriction. The code says 35 feet, and they approved 91 feet. Are you kidding me? Just because it is a cancer center … Cancer can’t be helped in a 35-foot-tall building? You can be darn sure that if this was a contractor building a apartment building, it would have been turned down flat. But P&Z got sucked into the whole saving lives sympathy. Why make codes if they are not followed, especially to allow something nearly three times the height. They did the same thing on the main hospital addition, allowing twice the code limit, just for the hospital, no one else would get this special treatment. We need some new people on P & Z that will uphold the rules set down by the city. Let’s hope City Council sees through the sympathetic cancer curing jargon, and sticks by the codes.John KorrieGlenwood Springs
West Eagle Search & Rescue is an all-volunteer group of people from the Basalt and Carbondale areas in Eagle County. Our team has assisted in hundreds of backcountry incidents in the past 20 years, including plane crashes, avalanches, illness, broken bones, lost individuals and suicides, plus horse, snowmobile, bicycle, ATV, cross country skiing, and climbing accidents. By the time a reporting party gets out of the backcountry to a place where they can call 911, many hours may have gone by. We are then paged; we have to make a plan, gather our gear and meet at the trailhead. Many injuries that could be easily treatable in the ER turn deadly because of the passage of time. We use helicopters to access injured parties when necessary, but often weather, darkness, and terrain make them an unfeasible option. If we can ride snowmobiles or ATVs closer to the victim, we can reach injured parties at least four times faster than if we had to hike and pack supplies in (and patients out) on foot. If it were you lying in the backcountry with a broken leg, wouldn’t you want us to get to you as soon as possible-via snowmobile?Currently we can get permission from the government to use our motorized vehicles in wilderness, but this often takes a lot of time and energy – time and energy that we could be using to do what we do: help the injured party as quickly as possible.The areas that are being slated for wilderness have many old logging roads, trails and bike paths. The people who use these trails maintain them and keep the underbrush and deadfall cleared. If these areas are turned into wilderness, existing trails will become so choked with deadfall that even with permission we will no longer be able to get an ATV or snowmobile up them.Turning these areas into wilderness will make our work much harder, slower and more dangerous – for the patient and for the rescuer. Please say no to the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal.Cleve WilliamsWest Eagle County Search and Rescue
Some opponents of Hidden Gems do not like recent poll results that show overwhelming support for this citizen-initiated proposal. Rather than critique the substance, however, they attack the messenger. That is their right, but it doesn’t change the substance. The poll was conducted by RBI Strategies and Research, an established Colorado firm with a track record of more than 20 years of conducting or overseeing polling in the 2nd Congressional District. Their scientific survey found both widespread support for the Hidden Gems Wilderness Proposal and that the majority of supporters felt strongly in favor of protection. In other words, the support was both broad and deep.Supporters outnumber opponents 2:1, with the poll showing that most of that opposition is not very strongly felt. This indicates that the loud voices who so stridently oppose the Hidden Gems are a minority within a minority. Congress reserved the power to designate wilderness to itself, and for very good reason. Much of what we now know as wilderness was what the Forest Service formerly called “primitive areas,” and their bias towards developing these lands is precisely why Congress felt the need to intervene, passing the Wilderness Act in 1964 after nearly 10 years of debate. The law was crafted to allow activities such as grazing, horseback riding, hunting, wildlife management, insect control, and firefighting and mitigation. The Wilderness Act is part of multiple use management of public lands as spelled out in both law and regulation, allowing for a range of uses and activities while preserving the land’s essential naturalness. In passing the Wilderness Act, Congress specifically acted to remove decision-making authority about wilderness designation on public lands from land management agencies. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are part of the executive branch, not the legislative branch. Because wilderness designation is a Congressional prerogative, it is in the hands of a representative body that represents the people. The history of wilderness, nationally and in Colorado, is one of citizens petitioning elected leaders to protect cherished landscapes. Many of Colorado’s most iconic places have been designated wilderness in this manner – from the ground up by local citizens who care deeply about the lands that surround them. This, too, is the history of Hidden Gems, a landscape worthy of this highest legal regard.Pete Kolbenschlagcampaign directorHidden Gems Campaign
After the horrible oil spill in the Gulf, people may be contemplating alternative energy sources. Chernobyl is not only a cautionary tale but one of foreboding. On the evening of April 25, 1986, at Chernobyl-4, a test was conducted to see how long the turbines would keep spinning and producing power if the electrical power supply went off line. This dangerous test had been done before, and as a part of the preparation, they disabled some critical control systems – including the automatic shutdown safety mechanisms. Shortly after 1 a.m. on April 26, the flow of coolant water dropped and the power began to increase. A domino effect of errors caused a tremendous steam explosion, blowing the nuclear containment vessel to smithereens. The first responders who came to put out the fire were given a lethal dose of radiation. Resulting radiation will stay in the Chernobyl area for the next 48,000 years. Experts predict the most dangerous elements might disappear or be diluted in 600 years. The radiation was contained by placing a sarcophagus over the radiation (sound familiar), known to be structurally unsound and will have to be replaced. With all the concrete they put down, the construction may collapse and intrude into the aquifer, leaving Europe with no water.The cleanup of the Chernobyl disaster was performed by more than 650,000 liquidators; some estimate that about 8,000 to 10,000 died from the radioactive dose they received. The official casualty of this event range from 30 to 300,000 but many unofficial sources put the toll over 400,000. Only the years ahead will tell the true toll. The evacuated citizens of Chernobyl stepped into an abyss, no home, no friends, no money, no past and a doubtful future. Children are sickened with leukemia and borne with deformities, and many have developed cancer.I look now at the disasters we have precipitated by our overconfidence and pure contempt – Katrina, the Gulf, Three Mile Island, toxic gas drilling – and wonder why not develop energy that is nonpolluting and safe, for ourselves, our children and the earth.Alice GustafsonGlenwood Springs
Antero recently sent a letter asking its royalty owners to speak out against the “vocal minority” trying to prevent drilling activity in Garfield County. Their case is made through misleading statements. The royalty owner doesn’t lose their minerals if drilling doesn’t occur. The revenues simply remain underground. While this may not be the royalty owners’ preference, Antero is solely responsible for the revenue stream. If they don’t drill, they lose their leases with those royalty owners. In general, the royalty owners are shorted because of industry decisions regarding infrastructure. Revenues are less because the pipelines to take the quantities generated have lagged drastically. The failure to get our resources out has cost royalty owners: $80/bbl here when oil was $140/bbl in adjacent locations; $8/Mcf (one thousand cubic feet) here when $12/Mcf in Durango area. You say so what? It also means tax revenues are low as well and county taxpayers will have to make up the shortfall. When the industry touts the rules as the reason for the slowdown in Garfield County, look again at the facts. It’s price, not the rules. Our frustration is when this state is sold short to the industry. The “purple mountain majesty” takes second chair. The citizen who wants things “clean” takes the back seat. And the taxpayer has to prove over and over the underpayment reporting of industry to claim its rightful share of the resource. As Commissioner Samson said at a recent EAB meeting, there’s always been a vocal minority wanting to stop things. As citizens of the United States we must defend our principles. Everyone has a right to express his or her opinion. It’s the basis of democracy. Still, Antero wants to scare its royalty owners into dismissing the dissent. Allow the minority their say to protect yours.Jeneane SchlotthauerParachute
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