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Coverage hurting the valley

Matt Solomon, Eagle

I am writing this letter to you as a longtime resident of the valley and an even longer-time paddler.

I will begin with a very brief resume for you, I have been a raft guide and safety kayaker for both Lakota River Guides and Timberline Tours since 1996. I have paddled for Team Dagger and have traveled across the country and throughout the world on kayak trips, representing this wonderful place we call home throughout. I am the vice-chair of the U.S.A. Freestyle Kayak Committee” a committee that recently voted to host the U.S. Team Trials in our backyard at the West Glenwood Play Park.

The point of the letter is to make you aware of the complete disregard for the effect your paper has on the local and visiting communities in regards to the river levels this summer. The vast majority of the articles this summer have had a negative voice to it, not to mention the lack of research your writers have done prior to publishing some of their articles. I have read absolute false stories, distorted stories, and misconstrued facts. I have also read a lot of articles about how dangerous the rivers are this summer.

Taking this past winter as an example, rarely did I read an article outlining the many emergency calls to the mountain or how many injuries were sustained by skiers because of the huge amounts of snow or skier lack of control of skill. The vast majority of the articles the Vail Daily wrote about the winter were in regards to what a great snow season we were having.

Guess what? We are having a great river season, as well. Sure, just like on the mountain, accidents happen; however, unlike the mountain, your paper chooses to focus the stories on the accidents, rather than on the good. How long has it been since the Eagle River has run at 6 feet the first week in July? (Answer: more than 10 years.) What kind of impact has the high water had on the local rafting industry? Think about the fuel savings and environmental impact savings as a result of the companies not having to drive to the Arkansas River all summer.

Even better, many rafting guests are coming rafting on multiple trips this summer because they are having such a good time with the high water we have on the Eagle this summer. Not to mention, as stated before, U.S. team trials are being held in our backyard as a direct result of the new play park and water flows in Glenwood this summer.

I am not implying that the paper should stop writing about the accidents on the rivers, I think it is good to inform the public of the dangers involved. I am, however, asking that you to begin to create a more balanced atmosphere to the articles written by your staff ” both factually and good vs. bad. Have you considered the effect your paper’s negative tone has had on the rafting and kayaking industry? Have you asked? Have you even considered contacting the commercial companies before slamming their industry as bad as you have, aside from the one article in May? Are you completely confident that your writers have gathered all the facts prior to writing some of their stories? What is the end-goal in printing so many bad articles? It is not helping local companies; it is not encouraging people to learn new skills; and it’s not promoting local activities ” I’m lost on this one.

I hope that you, as an editor, decide to present all the facts, correctly, for each story and that the Vail Daily decides to present all sides of the story, not just what it feels like because it doesn’t appreciate the rivers as much as it appreciates the snow on the mountains.

Thank you for your time and your consideration.


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