Letter: Our bighorns are one of our valley’s most precious resources

I am writing to be a voice for wildlife and land conservation for my generation and speak for the over 7,000 school-aged students here in Eagle County. I want to share my perspective as a kid who cares about protecting wildlife and loves what makes my home so special. I was born and raised in Eagle County and I’m fortunate to be the fourth generation in my family to live in the Vail Valley.

My love for the outdoors began at an early age. My passion grew deeper in my early years at Vail Mountain School, where I could watch the Vail bighorns in the winter and see the spring lambs from campus. As a middle schooler now, I know it’s a privilege to have these beautiful animals so accessible. 

It is said our experiences inform our lives. I would say the outdoors informs mine. I escape to the outdoors to find peace in nature, where I feel free, happy and grateful to live in Colorado. In my opinion, nothing compares to the pristine beauty and wildlife in our own Gore Range mountains and the animals like the Vail bighorns that call these mountains home. In order to conserve their habitat, we must find a balance between our needs of playing, working and living and the needs of wildlife and the land. As a kid, I love having space to wander and play in the woods, but I love the animals having a home more. 

As I have learned more about the threat to this herd, it has become very personal to me. I know my own family’s history and the contributions they’ve made to Vail’s legacy. I know that my great-grandfather helped invest in Vail Mountain, and he helped establish Vail Associates, as one of the very first executives of the company that would later become Vail Resorts. I also know that he never thought the day would come when the vision he and his friends had for our community would get trampled by politics and greed.

My heart breaks at the thought that one day — far far away from now — my children and grandchildren might not have that same privilege. Our Vail bighorns are one of our valley’s most precious resources. They are here in our backyard, available for schools like mine to take field trips to study them and revel in their power and beauty. Too many people don’t realize how much of a treasure these animals are, so we must act now to show what a community united around conservation can accomplish.          

To me, conservation means we give more to the land than what we take from it. To all of you, I hope it means being good stewards and building our homes in ways that do not hurt the homes of wildlife. And holding our elected officials accountable to do the same. Our land is limited, so some places simply need to be kept wild.

When we take from the land for recreation, we must give back to the land to preserve its resources. This is why I believe in the mission before us today. I believe in leaving the land better than you found it. I believe the bighorn sheep in East Vail deserve to keep their home. I believe we must be a voice for wildlife that can’t speak for themselves. I believe the next generation can do better than the ones before us. I believe our community can be a part of protecting, sustaining, and improving the only habitat available for this special, beautiful species. 

I only have so much allowance to give, but I will give it all to save the Vail gighorns. I hope you will join me by giving today toon. Go to vailbighorn.com to do this. Together, we can work toward a better future for our wildlife and our community. We have the privilege of living here, and with that privilege comes the responsibility of being stewards of the land for future generations. 

Dr. Suess’s “The Lorax” said “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Will you please join me today in caring a whole awful lot? 

Oakley Milhoan
Vail Christian Academy sixth grade

Letter: Reid Phillips for Vail Town Council

I am writing to express my support for Reid Phillips for Vail Town Council. While I am not a resident of Vail, in my more than 30 years in the valley, I have lived in West Vail and East Vail and for the last 21, Minturn. I have served on the Minturn Town Council for seven years. If I lived in Vail, Reid would have my vote. 

I have known Reid for most of my time living here. He is as honest as they come. There isn’t a bigger heart when it comes to all things Vail. I believe Reid will work very hard as a council member. I have seen this work ethic of his as an elite ski coach, builder, and on ski patrol. He is the voice you want in the room. He asks questions and actually listens. 

Over my seven years serving my own Town Council, I have learned that everything is important to someone, meaning that each issue affects someone deeply. In our small mountain communities, it is important to hear all sides and make decisions accordingly. I think Reid has the compassion that this job takes while still making the tough decisions.

One of the qualities of a great council member is the ability to work together. I know that Reid, even if he disagrees with you, will approach the differences with respect, a sense of humor, and a desire to move forward. This is an often overlooked trait on councils but so very important. Because in the end, after decisions are made, councils have to move forward to work on the next big issue. 

Vote for Reid. You’ll be happy you did. 

Terry Armistead
Minturn

Letter: An alternative to renaming mountains

The recent hoopla surrounding the name of a Colorado peak got me to thinking. Rather than opt for a completely new name, why not re-assign the namesake? In this case, there are plenty of worthy Evans candidates. Within Colorado, we have a U.S. representative (Frank) and a state representative (Gabe).

Historically, we have a 1700s Pirate (John), an Alamo defender (Samuel), an amateur golfer (Chick), an Apollo 17 astronaut (Ronald), a Depression photographer (Walker), a Unionist killed in Trinidad (Chris) and a 1944 Medal of Honor recipient (Ernest).

How about the accomplishment of an Olympic gold medalist (Janet or Lee), a 2007 Pulitzer winner (Heidi), a 2007 Nobel winner (Sir Martin), a Navy rear admiral (Marsha), or Miss Texas 2015 (Monique)?

Pop-culture candidates include actors (Dale, Linda, and Chris), baseball great (Dwight), cyclist (Cadel), jazz vocalist (Demi), and U2’s The Edge (David).

Maybe it should just be Harry Potter’s Mother (Lily).

Just offering an alternative solution …

Ward Mahanke
EagleVail

Letter: Is climate change going to matter?

Is climate change really going to matter? If we don’t start breeding, who is going to know?          

Corky Fitzsimmons
Gypsum

Letter: Tomorrow is not guaranteed

I’m Carlos, a 38-year-old father of two wonderful boys, Migel and Karlo. I was born in Vail and this is my home. I want to share my story of hope, survival, and the incredible power of family.

Life was humming along in peacefully Eagle County. I come from hard-working parents who came to this valley for a better life. I was enjoying a normal life. My wife, Krystle, and I had high hopes for our future. We bought a home in Gypsum only five houses away from my parents’ house for way too much money. I bought my dream truck — a Ford Raptor. We worked hard, often having multiple jobs. We took vacations in Hawaii and other magical places. I thought we had made it. My parents come from nothing and made it in this country. They gave me a life to dream of.

But then, one fateful day, everything changed. The word “cancer” hit me like a freight train. Advanced kidney cancer, they said. It felt like a death sentence, and I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my family behind. I remember sitting down with Krystle, tears welling in our eyes, as we grappled with the harsh reality of the diagnosis. With unwavering support from my family. I decided to confront this monster head-on. I underwent surgery to remove the cancerous kidney, and the recovery is tough, both physically and emotionally. The pain seemed insurmountable at times, especially emotionally, but my family’s reassuring presence has kept me going. They reminded me that we are in this together.

The subsequent months of psychological torment and anguish are no less taxing. The treatment is swift and precise. I found solace in the sheer energy of family. Now that I am getting stronger we recently went to Vail with my parents, my wife, and kids. We rode the gondola and enjoyed the car show, we had a beautiful lunch in Lionshead outside on a patio. I ate while the sun kissed my face and I realized I am still alive. I feel we can conquer the most daunting challenges and emerge with a profound appreciation for the beauty of life. Please hug your loved ones and don’t take life for granted. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Carlos Sandoval
Gypsum

Letter: Do the right thing, Vail Resorts

It appears that the saga of the East Vail parcel commonly known as Booth Heights and condemnation by the town of Vail is coming to a close, hopefully with a good outcome for the iconic bighorn sheep herd that has resided on that land since long before Vail was envisioned.   

No one disputes that workforce housing is essential to the community. It is important to note that, had Vail Resorts engaged in earnest with the town in 2019-2020 on a swap of the Booth Heights site for the development at Residences at Main Vail, Vail Resorts would have 72 one- and two-bedroom apartments available to employees for the coming winter. Instead, Vail Resorts forced a protracted debate and legal proceedings. Should this condemnation be completed, we can hope that the monies the town pays to Vail Resorts will be dedicated to workforce housing in Eagle County on some of the many sites Vail Resorts owns in the area. It would be the right thing to do. 

Pamela Stenmark
Vail

Letter: Will we choose to support our community?

The Colorado Sun story on mountain town homeowners regarding the complaints of short-term rental owners left me wondering if our community will choose to gain wealth over the basic right to housing. What does our inaction on the issue say about the values leading our community?

Personally, It’s hard for me to consider the needs of someone’s second or third home when we have an entire generation of workers within our community who will not be able to enter the market due to the mismanagement of a limited supply of homes. We have lost a sense of community in Vail by pricing out locals from living here. Without regulation, we are inherently saying we value profit on real estate over creating a sustainable place to live.

Housing security for workers who support our town is the larger issue at hand, not short-term rental taxes infringing on landlords’ profit margins. How can we gloss over 14% of renters being pushed out of their homes in Summit County? According to the town of Vail’s short-term rental study, the number of long-term rentals in Vail decreased by 162 between 2010-2019. Consider the effects of 14% of the housing supply being turned over to short-term rentals. It has increased the demand at such a rate, that the cost per bedroom has increased over 200%.

I am not naive enough to dismiss the need for short-term rentals in a resort town. I appreciate that guests in short-term rentals invest in our local economy. However, with a limited housing supply, there must be a balance between short-term rentals and local long-term housing. We are clearly past the tipping point. We have sacrificed our limited housing supply for capitalist gain without regard to the needs of our community. It’s time to take action on this issue and restore balance in our community. Regulating short-term rentals is a means to stabilize our housing market, create a sustainable community, and let our workforce know we value housing security.

Lindsea Stowe
Vail

Letter: A great story about a great sign

Great article about the Eagle Valley Medical Center and the Eagle River Foundation that brought back many memories. I’ve told friends and others of this “Eagle Valley Needs a Doctor” sign over the years with many of them disbelieving. 

I first skied Vail in 1965-66 over the holidays as a first-year medical student. In 1970, for my honeymoon, I chose Snowmass and my first U.S. Highway 6 trip west beyond Vail. I was an intern then and looked somewhat longingly at the sign. 

Subsequently, after multiple moves, two residencies and one fellowship (the latter in between the residencies and at UC Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Denver, an army career that included Fitzsimons in Denver/Aurora, private practice in south Georgia, contract physician at the Air Force Academy, half-time living in Edwards (Singletree) and Avon (Mountain Star) in the ’90s, nearly 20 years in Colorado Springs, I finally “returned” to the Vail Valley for good, this time in Eagle. 

My older daughter (and husband) and her two kids (11 and 9) live but five minutes away and my older granddaughter just graduated from Vail Mountain School. Eagle still feels like the Colorado I first visited in the late 1950s. I’ve often said that nowadays to understand what Colorado is all about — you have to go to Montana (spoiler — I did live half-time in Whitefish from 2008-12) but Eagle belies that. I’m happy to be “home.”

I sometimes wonder if I had followed up on that sign, what might have happened, though.

Richard B. Karsh, MD
Eagle

Letter: Be thankful for our first responders

I could not let Wendy Sacks’ comments about last week’s fire go by without comment. Instead of complaining about being stuck in traffic last week, she should have complimented all the first responders, wildland firefighters, and helicopter and air attack pilots who risked their lives to put out the fire between U.S. Highway 6 and Interstate 70. 

These men and women prevented the fire from jumping I-70 or the Eagle River and deserve our gratitude.  Without the incredible response from all the agencies involved, numbering several hundred people, our community could be dealing with an event like the Glenwood Canyon disaster a couple of years ago. Be thankful we are not!

John Boles
Edwards

Letter: We don’t need a gravel mine in Dotsero

I live in the beautiful community of Two Rivers/Dotsero. We do not need a gravel mine to build more houses along the Colorado River. We do not see it as enhancing our community. We see it as a detriment, and an overabundant gravel mine that will ruin our community, dirty our beautiful waters, and ruin our natural recreational activity that is available here.

If you want to plan something, why don’t we make a gate to Dotsero/Two Rivers to block off the semi-trailers that get stuck here because Glenwood Canyon gets closed? Our community deserves a gate to block off semi-trailers and protect our children and us. We need security not only to protect our neighborhood but to restrict the people that come here without being residents of Dotsero.

That would also be a much less expensive alternative to mining gravel. We do not want mines of gravel here. We are going to have a lot more dust here, which could hinder our breathing, especially for those who have asthma or trouble breathing. What about the noise that will disrupt our community?

We have a small community here. We should have a right to what we bought here. We invested our life savings into our houses in this neighborhood, and we do not want our waters soiled, our breathing disrupted, or noise pollution.

I understand the Planning Commission’s long-term goals to build and develop, but in the meantime, why should our community be taken for granted? Is this really going to make our home values go up?

What about our lives here?

Karen Tripp
Two Rivers/Dotsero