Friday & Monday letters: Polis and climate, Crystal Trail, meatless Lent, condo concerns
Polis not a climate friend
Gov. Jared Polis is up for reelection in November. With a personal net worth of $120 million, his campaign war chest will be full, but a nickel in the collection plate from the oil and gas industry wouldn’t hurt. Also, Weld County and the Western Slope, where there used to be heavy oil and gas drilling activity, are areas where Polis could use some support.
Perhaps that’s why Polis has been taking his recent positions on climate issues.
Last year, Polis threatened to veto Senate Bill 21-200, which would’ve given some teeth to SB 19-181, the legislation that reprioritized the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from promoting the industry to regulating it. Consequently, statehouse Democrats dropped it. As it stands, SB 19-181 is a fine set of guidelines in search of some enforceability. There are no consequences for noncompliance.
When he was in Congress, Polis was the only Democratic member of the Liberty Caucus, a group of legislators dedicated to libertarian principles. They’re opposed to any government regulation of private enterprise, no matter if the common good is served or not. That makes Polis the very definition of a Wall Street Democrat.
Oh, you say, if Polis is defeated by a Republican in November, that new governor will be even more cavalier about the climate. As a confirmed Independent, I’m weary of voting for the lesser of two evils. Is this the best our politically bankrupt two-party system can do? I encourage the Democrats to primary Polis in June.
Fred Malo Jr.
Crystal Valley needs a trail
For eons, animals and people gracefully walked ancient trails through the Crystal Valley. Until the 1860s, when Colorado became a Territory, Crystal Valley was pristine habitat for a rich variety of flora and fauna, including humans. Nuche (the Ute) traveled the game trails over undivided, unowned land. Europeans churned the trails into wagon tracks. By 1881, when the original people were moved off the land, local governments of the new State of Colorado invested heavily in infrastructure, and the Nuche paths evolved into graded highways. Always there was a gracious route for man and animal to walk, along the entire valley, over McClure, the lowest pass, west out of the Central Rockies.
But today, that is not possible. Fences abound, circling private and public property. Highway 133, driveways, rivers, ditches and cliff topography box the valley in. It is impossible to traverse, graciously on foot, or even at all, in places. The 7 Oaks Bridge is where safe human foot traffic comes to a halt. The first portion of the trail was a gift to humanity, first proposed and rough platted in 1992, then in 2003 with a $50,000 study for an alignment, entirely on public lands. The closing up of passage through the valley, long obvious, made it vital for beast and man, that flow be restored or turn cancerous. … In 2012 the first 5.3-mile segment was built by Garfield County, Pitkin County and Carbondale. It is possible, that before 2025, construction could start on the top 7-mile section.
The Redstone to McClure section is the perfect, next part of the project. Once completed it will afford a perch to look ahead, with a solid goal to reach behind. Through the valley, the major obstacles are the river, highway and private property. Bears Gulch has a clean route, above the highway, where the cliffs and river make it difficult to follow Highway 133.
Bears Gulch, aka Bunker Hill above Hays Creek Falls, offers a low impact, lovely route on the old Rock Creek Wagon Road, built by James Bogan. It will enhance the ability of wildlife and people to move upstream. The alternative, along the river, is prohibitively expensive and ecologically destructive. You can help by letting your support for the trail be known to the Forest Service, PitCo councilors and Crystal Caucus members. More information is found at: PitkinOSTProjects.com/carbon dale-to-crested-butte-trail-plan.html and fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56913
Meatless Lent is a start
In Western churches, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, six and a half weeks before Easter, and provides for a 40-day fast, in imitation of Jesus Christ’s fasting in the wilderness before he began his public ministry. Many Christians abstain from animal foods during Lent.
However, a meat-free Lent is more than a symbol of devotion to Christ. A meat-free Lent reduces the risk of chronic disease, environmental degradation, and animal abuse. Volumes have been written linking consumption of meat with increased risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and more.
In a 2007 United Nations report they noted meat production as the planet’s largest source of pollution and greenhouse gasses. And undercover investigations document farm animals being beaten, crowded, deprived, mutilated, and shocked.
Lent offers an opportunity to honor Christ’s powerful message of compassion and love by extending a meat-free diet beyond Lent; it’s the diet mandated in Genesis I:29 and observed in the Garden of Eden.
Today, there’s a rich array of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, as well as readily available vegetables, fruits and grains. Decide to make this change for Lent but commit to keeping meat off your plate all year.
Bad neighborhood fit
We are strongly and immediately opposed to the consideration and application submitted by Jordan Architecture Inc. for a five-unit residential building zoned as a Residential High Density property. It is contradictory to the preservation of stable and safe neighborhoods for the city and its residents.
The current neighborhood surrounding this property, with the exception of the condominiums behind the above noted property and out of view from the homes in this area, are considered single family homes, owned by most residents with at most five occupants including children.
Traffic on 23rd Street would increase significantly with more residents occupying the five-unit building, on top of the new development on Palmer Avenue. This neighborhood is frequented by owners who walk their dogs, children who ride their bikes to school and recreationally and adult residents who walk frequently. The potential of multiple residents within a single unit with multiple cars is concerning, particularly if the units intentionally or unintentionally become rentals.
We want to preserve what this neighborhood has represented for the past half century, more than 50 years, which is a cohesive family environment, and we feel that would be disrupted with an eyesore of condominiums or apartments and the amount of people added to the neighborhood.
The thought of adding five more units to this neighborhood, the likelihood that this is just the beginning of more growth impacts, along with the question of sustainability of this community will weigh heavily on the schools, first responders, traffic and way of life.
Consider trail wildlife impacts
The problem with the proposed Redstone to McClure Pass trail, and the entire trail as a whole, is that no wildlife studies have been conducted to get baseline statistics on population numbers, breakdown by gender and age, etc. So the experts and officials are all speculating as to the impacts instead of following science.
There was a very timely article in the Aspen Times on Thursday, Feb. 24 titled “Study highlights recreational trail impacts to wildlife habitat.”
The study quantifies the elk habitat loss and compression in 120,000 acres east of Steamboat Springs. Organizers of the study say it was initiated after the Roaring Fork Valley and Eagle Valley elk herds experienced a 50% reduction from 1999 to 2015.
The study shows a significant loss and fragmentation of elk habitat. The full study can be found on the Keep Routt Wild website, under the “Experts & Studies” tab, then “Wildlife Studies.”
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