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‘Adventure’ in all the right places

Staff Reports

In response to the article, “Endurance more valuable than skill in BC adventure” (Vail Trail, July 18) by Scott Willoughby, after wading through the shallow sea of falsehoods and uninformed opinions he spouted in his column, I realized that he has a point.In some adventure races, the tagline “adventure” may be a bit of a stretch. When I got into the adventure racing scene as a climber, my idea of adventure was keeping it together at the crux of a 5.12 trad route. I saw an adventure race on TV and thought, “I could do that.” And indeed I could.In fact, anyone with basic skills in the outdoor sports can do an adventure race. That’s part of the beauty of it. There is no Class V kayaking, no death-defying mountain biking, not even any “real” rock climbing. It’s true rappelling requires no skill.But don’t let anyone tell you there is no adventure in this type of racing. After finishing the Balance Bar 24-hour race in Beaver Creek, I challenge anyone to swim Gore Canyon and claim afterwards that it lacked adventure.In some races, unskilled teams must push their bikes for miles, while better teams breeze through the technical terrain and save hours. A recent race in Aspen sent teams down a long section of solid Class III whitewater (yes, Scott, in “real” kayaks). And there’s even something to be said for the experience of hallucinating on a bike trail at three in the morning.Maybe someday someone will create a race for only the hardest of the hard-core athletes, a race where you could die on any section of the course. People would undoubtedly sign up.Until then, I’ll get my “adventure” wherever I can find it. And sometimes that means doing an adventure race.Mark BockmannBoulderTom Stone is king of greedRegarding county commissioner Stone (a.k.a. The Man Who Would Be King) and his state of denial per the Bair Ranch decision, I would like to comment as an outdoorsman and father of a young son.There are many of us in this county who have stood by and watched as nearly every square foot of the valley floor from East Vail to Red Canyon has been turned over for development. Even as I put down these words, the remaining open spaces from Wolcott to Eagle and beyond are all earmarked for development in the near future.As goes that development, so goes critical riparian habitat, river access and migration routes for many species of wildlife and, on a more altruistic level, the last readily visible vestiges of the wondrous western heritage that brought so many of us to this area.I feel that there are certain things that we can do to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to see, experience and enjoy some of those same wondrous elements. An investment of this type ensures that a piece of this beautiful place in which we live and play will remain as it is for my son, and perhaps his children and beyond, to see just as I did when I first gazed upon it and as others did before me.There is something of intrinsic value there. Something that can’t be measured in whether or not it’s a good deal for the taxpayers, or whether or not the masses will be permitted to run amok with their motorized toys, scarring the landscape, strewing their abundant trash about. It’s not about us…it’s about the future. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that 50 or a 100 years from now we would be lauded for our foresight and our stewardship of the future.We live in a culture that cannot and will not accept that there is value in something we cannot tangibly grab on to and cram into our already bulging pockets. It is a culture of the ‘here and now’. It is a culture of greed and conspicuous consumption.It is not surprising, therefore, that ‘King Tom’ allegedly sought to secure for himself a potentially lucrative real estate listing with the owners of the Bair Ranch. And it is certainly no surprise that he would deny any ulterior motives in his attempts to put the kibosh on the decision made by his fellow commissioners, crying sour grapes and trying to rally his reactionary troops.What is (only slightly) surprising is that after steamrolling and manipulating so many critical issues facing the county, coming out on top nearly every time, His Highness, in all his smugness and arrogance cannot accept that for once, he came out on the short end of an issue.Poor King Tom.He hasn’t got the integrity and the grace to acknowledge what the people – his constituency – wanted and voiced through a flood of calls and letters and public comment. Or does he serve some higher authority?It seems to be the M.O. of today’s professional politician to promote and enact policy based upon one’s own agenda and special interests. All the while ignoring public opinion. Look at the good side…if real estate doesn’t work out for His Lordship…he’s got a future as a full time politician. Let’s just hope Governor Owens doesn’t stop too quickly, Tom, you may break your nose.Howard LeavittAvonThe people behind the Bair projectThe Bair Ranch preservation project that was approved by the Eagle County Commissioners two weeks ago was a wonderful example of our community teaming together with other parties to preserve part of our western heritage.Particular thanks are owed to Congressmen Scott McInnis and Mark Udall, who helped secure the initial $1.5 million in BLM funding for the project, and to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (and Director Greg Walcher) and Great Outdoors Colorado, who helped justify and commit $400,000 in state funding. Perhaps the hardest work was put in by the Conservation Fund, a national land conservation organization that worked with the Bair Family to develop the details of the proposal, and the Eagle Valley Land Trust, which mobilized community support and pledged to raise an additional $1.1 million in local funding to complete the deal. They have put their money on the line.Even with all the above, the Bair Ranch project probably would not have happened without the input of hundreds of Eagle County residents who wrote, phoned and e-mailed our county commissioners, and the one-hundred-plus citizens who attended the Commissioners hearings on July 29 and 31. Notables included State Senator Ken Chlouber (who was especially impressive in his advocacy); Eagle River Watershed Council representative, Tom Steinberg; the Bair family; current and former Town Council members from Avon, Gypsum, Vail, and Eagle; and representatives of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Trout Unlimited, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Colorado Open Lands, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Division of Wildlife, and the Aspen Valley Land Trust. This was cooperation at its best!Lastly, special thanks are owed to Commissioner Arn Menconi, who tirelessly, passionately and eloquently stated the case for preserving the Bair Ranch and its western heritage, and Commissioner Mike Gallagher, who listened to his constituents, and did the right thing. This has been a team effort all the way, and what was done fits squarely with the ballot language we passed last fall which encouraged our County to “preserve working farms and ranches”.No matter what the few detractors may say, the conservation easement that will be placed on the ranch will preserve its 4830 acres (that’s over 7.5 square miles) as ranchland and open space with no new significant development allowed. That’s critical, because without the easement, under Colorado law, the ranch could be subdivided into at least 138 thirty-five acre ranchettes, and no County approval would be required to do that. So, we think the County has made an excellent, and wise decision that will benefit future generations of Eagle County residents, and wildlife too.Andy Wiessner& Patsy Batchelder


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