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Letter: A big thank you to our local veterans

To all the Eagle County Veterans who participated in the Veterans Awareness week: A big thank you to all of you for taking the time and making the effort to be involved with our Veterans Awareness Week activities. We accomplished 19 school programs with 20 schools and a well-attended public ceremony at Freedom Park on Veterans Day.

This week is always a wonderful opportunity to introduce ourselves to the community, show off our community spirit, and share our stories. Our stories are avenues through which students, parents and our fellow citizens learn from our experiences at war, in peace, and in support roles as a member of the United States Armed Forces.

Every year is a little different, and we have to say that this year it seemed that the most impactful presentations for the high school students were about the amazing free education that many veterans had while in the military: from foreign languages to aviation mechanics to nuclear power to cyber technologies to pilot training and more. It is also a great opportunity for our community members to learn more about their neighbors and to appreciate our histories.

Did you know that veterans as a whole give more to philanthropic organizations in funds and volunteer time than the rest of the population? Well, you all just showed a great example of veterans’ community spirit with the best Veterans Awareness Week we have ever had. Sincere thanks to each and every one of you.

Patricia Hammon, Eagle County Veteran Service Officer and VFW Post 10721 VSO

Debbie Robbins, VFW Post 10721 Veterans Week School Coordinator

Letter: Robust debate shouldn’t be an excuse for fake news

Rohn Robbins did a column in praise of the case New York Times vs Sullivan in 1964. That decision established a new rule that claims of libel (falsehood) against the media had to show actual malice if the injured party is a public official. Later cases extended this concept to anyone who is a public figure — such as an entertainer.

The rationale for this decision was to encourage “robust ” public debate. I disagree. “Robust debate” should not be an excuse for untruth. Whether a statement is true or false should be the only test. What public good is served by excusing a falsehood?

In Robbins’ view ” … the decision opened the doors to the press to criticize or otherwise comment upon all public servants or officials.” No, it didn’t. The right to criticize has always been there. What the Sullivan decision did was make it easier to get away with dishonesty.

It is interesting that Robbins did not mention a recent opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas in the 2019 case of Kathrine Mae McKee vs William H. Cosby, Jr. There, Ms. McKee was one of those who accused Cosby of rape. Cosby’s lawyers publicized disparaging claims against her, including that she was a liar. McKee sued for libel.

The Supreme Court denied certiorari (review) of the case, based on the New York Times vs Sullivan rule. Justice Clarence Thomas entered a separate opinion calling for a re-examination of the Sullivan rule: “… New York Times and the Court’s decisions extending it were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law. Instead of simply applying the First Amendment as it was understood by the people who ratified it, the Court fashioned its own “‘federal rule[s]’” by balancing the “competing values at stake in defamation suits.”

I agree with Justice Thomas. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution says that Congress ” … shall make no law … abridging freedom of speech, or of the press …”  I don’t see how this would justify giving a special dispensation to the press for fake news.

Terry Quinn   

Eagle 

Letter: It’s the Senate’s turn to pass the CORE Act

Thank you to Rep. Joe Neguse for his tireless leadership in passing the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The CORE Act includes the previous Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act lands in Summit and Eagle Counties. We are excited to see this legislation move forward to advance public lands protections that address the needs and priorities of our local communities, veterans, businesses, and outdoor recreation interests.

Now, we need the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to do its job and hold a hearing on the CORE Act. Coloradans have been working diligently on these protections for over 10 years. Sen. Michael Bennet has asked for a hearing in this committee. Now is the time for Sen. Cory Gardner to step up for Colorado’s interests and help move this forward.

The CORE Act celebrates and preserves an important part of our history highlighting the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, which played critical roles in both World War II and the genesis of the modern-day ski industry.  The bill protects 28,728 acres of natural, recreational and historical resources surrounding Camp Hale. For over 10 years, local stakeholders have worked to consider carefully drawn boundaries addressing fire management, wildlife habitat, water supply needs, and recreation interests.

Millions of outdoor enthusiasts visit our counties every year, and our public lands define our local economy and quality of life. Establishing new wilderness, recreation and conservation areas requires vision, commitment, patriotism, and the foresight to pass to future generations the uniquely American heritage of conservation. We ask the Senate to serve Colorado’s interests by passing the CORE Act — its time has come!

Karn Stiegelmeier, Summit County Commissioner

Kathy Chandler-Henry, Eagle County Commissioner

Letter: We need to incentivize private sector conservation

I enjoyed reading Gene Byrne’s Oct. 27 letter to the editor on how “we can all be part of the solution for sustaining wildlife,” including recommendations on how to fund more conservation. When it comes to conservation, all solutions should be on the table. And while the government can and should play a role, the government alone cannot get the job done. To meet our nation’s conservation challenges, private sector landowners must play a significant role.

Here in Colorado, many of our precious public lands such as Rocky Mountain National Park are funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal conservation program. Unfortunately, LWCF funding is likely to take a hit in the federal government’s 2020 budget, illustrating the urgent need to encourage greater private sector participation in conservation. Furthermore, in light of the fact that 70 percent of America’s lands are under private ownership, it is essential that the private sector is empowered to contribute to conservation efforts. 

In 2015, Congress acted to encourage private land conservation by updating the tax code to make permanent a tax incentive that opens private conservation to a broader range of Americans. Thanks to this congressional action, millions of acres of habitat have been voluntarily conserved by individuals, families and real estate partnerships across the country. The tax incentive is working exactly as intended.

The frightening reality is that we are currently losing roughly an acre of land to development every 30 seconds. Given the problem at hand, we should be encouraging more conservation, not less. It is essential to activate and incentivize as much private sector land conservation as possible!

Elizabeth Milias

Aspen

Letter: Eugenia Zukerman’s memoir worth reading

In what may be Eugenia’s most courageous and inspirational performance yet, she writes about her experience with cognitive decline in a recently published memoir, “Like Falling Through a Cloud.” I so appreciated her virtuosity during her tenure as the artistic director at Bravo! Vail Music Festival, as did her many other Vail fans and friends.  

And now, I  celebrate and honor her courage in helping to normalize an important issue which many individuals face. Bravo, Eugenia! For more on her story, and the book, check out her interview with NPR’s Scott Simon on “Weekend Edition.”

Karin Weber

San Jose, California

Letter: Honoring our veterans

I have the honor of being the coordinator for the Veterans Awareness Programs in the county’s schools that run up and down the valley the week or so prior to Veterans Day in an effort to educate our students as to what it means to be a veteran. This year we visited almost 20 schools!

The questions, comments, and eager faces show that we are making an impact on the citizens of tomorrow.

Thank you to the principals who open their schools to those who serve and to the teachers who open their classrooms for the living history they have to share.

Thank you to the school campuses who welcome the veterans with delicious receptions to include coffee and apple pie, soups and salads, sandwiches and more!

Thank you for the colorful artwork, inspiring music, letters from students, and touching tributes. Thank you for the generous donations to our scholarship fund from which graduates in each of our high schools benefit.

Thank you to Chris Dillmann, Tricia Swenson, and Randy Wyrick of the Vail Daily for their creative coverage. Thank you to our local veterans for taking time out of their lives to share their stories with the youth of the valley and create a connection with them. Special thanks to Pat Hammon and Buddy Sims for finding these vets and encouraging them to join us.

Most of all, thanks to a community that makes its veterans feel appreciated and relevant. 

Debbie Robbins

Letter: We need employee housing, but not Booth Heights

I love Vail, and understand the role that the resort company plays in our community. I acknowledge the importance that housing plays for employees and employers. However, I challenge Beth Howard’s statement that the Booth Heights location is ideal for employee housing.           

It is the opposite of ideal for development. Not only is it already inhabited by a native bighorn sheep herd, but it is also a geologic hazard zone that contains wetlands and habitat for other wildlife. A huge rockfall mitigation berm is part of the plan. The increased traffic, foot and vehicular, would make an already dangerous underpass intersection worse. For decades, the parcel was an integral part of a community-developed open land plan. 

I am moved by stories of people moving to town, spending all their savings on first and last month’s rent, working multiple jobs to stay afloat, struggling with housing availability and expenses. I have lived this narrative. The limited space for growth in the Vail Valley will continue to be a problem. If we build on every available parcel now, in 40 years, my guess is we will still have a housing issue. 

The rites of passage for young people will continue to include emptying their pockets to put a roof over their heads and juggling several jobs around their ski schedule. Old-timers will still sit on their favorite bar stool. The moon will rise over the Grand Traverse. Some things will never change.

Unfortunately, what will change is the disappearance of our bighorn sheep herd. The wild mountain feel of East Vail will be diminished. Environmental stewardship was at the core of Vail’s founders’ original philosophy, and I believe that it should be at the heart of our vision for the future. 

Carl Cocchiarella

East Vail

Letter: From Booth Heights to Ever Vail

I was sorry to hear that Beth Howard, new COO of Vail Mountain, thinks Booth Heights is an “ideal” location for employee housing. I ask her to consider the recent Town Council election which was clearly a vote against Booth Heights. I call the election results a sweep for the sheep.  

Vail voters value their wildlife: they speak for the sheep when they said no to Booth Heights. I hope that Beth will work to find a more suitable location for VR employee housing. She said Ever Vail (between Lionshead and Cascade) ) is on her “radar screen” with the possibility of 45 employee housing units. Perhaps an additional 30 units could be built at Ever Vail as an alternative to Booth Heights. Ever Vail would be an ideal location for VR’s employees.  

Patti Langmaid

Vail

Letter: Tell Gardner to get on board with CORE Act

Thank you Rep. Joe Neguse and Sen. Michael Bennet for the bold and important CORE Act that will protect 400,000 acres of critical wilderness and wildlife habitat across Colorado.

For the past 25 years, the volunteers of Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance (formerly Friends of Eagles Nest Wilderness) have observed firsthand the increase — now explosion — in visitors to our wilderness areas. Today, the pristine ecosystems that hikers expect to encounter are challenged as never before. Our mission is to help the Forest Service preserve and repair these treasures. Each year our trail and campsite crews rehab dozens of camps, clear hundreds of trees from trails, and combat invasive weeds. Our citizen rangers assist and educate more than 12,000 visitors on the trails.

Stopgap measures such as encouraging alternative trail choices and mandatory permitting are not enough. The public cries out for more capacity. The CORE Act offers exactly that, with its promise of three new wilderness areas and additions to two others on the White River National Forest in Summit and Eagle Counties.

It is a straightforward solution, shaped over the years by a vast coalition of stakeholders. Mountain bikers will maintain access to 17,000 acres in the Tenmile Range. Wildlife will get new conservation areas. Colorado history will be preserved in the Camp Hale National Historic Landscape without changing current recreation access. Across the state, new protections of a variety of public lands are supported by the majority of local residents and by the county commissions in every county directly affected by the bill. 

Now, the fate of this important bill depends on Sen. Cory Gardner, who so far is the only Colorado senator in the 55-year history of the Wilderness Act of 1964 to not support new wilderness designations for our state. Contact Sen. Gardner today at (202) 224-5941 and strongly urge him to get on board and actively help lead this bill to success in the U.S. Senate.

Bill Betz, Chair, Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance

Letter: Gardner should support the CORE Act

Rep. Joe Neguse deserves a huge round of applause for his success in getting the CORE Act passed in the House of Representatives.

This enormously popular bill, thoroughly analyzed and discussed by experts and the public for over a decade, deserves a hearing in the Senate. Sen. Michael Bennet has already lent his support to the bill but we have yet to hear anything from Sen. Cory Gardner.

Gardner’s record on public lands is pathetic. While assuring his constituents he fully supports restoration of funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, he has consistently voted to divert those funds.

If Gardner fails to support the CORE Act, he will be the first Colorado senator in over 40 years who has never supported a wilderness bill protecting Colorado lands. Gardner’s is not a legacy any of us can be proud of.

Jonathan Staufer

Vail