Eagle County will wait to send Hidden Gems support letter | VailDaily.com

Eagle County will wait to send Hidden Gems support letter

What they talked about: The county has a letter ready to send to Washington about the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal. The letter in its current form supports creating new wilderness areas some parts of the more than 400,000-acre proposal, while opposing wilderness designation for others.

While the letter has been drafted, county planner Cliff Simonton told the commissioners that enough has changed in the proposal over the last two months that much of the letter might not be relevant any more.

The commissioners agreed with that assessment, and will probably update the official county position after supporters have submitted a formal proposal to Rep. Jared Polis, the Boulder Democrat who represents Eagle County in Washington.

The commissioners added that the county should be done with holding public hearings on the Hidden Gems proposal. That job rightly belongs to Polis, who would carry any local wilderness bill in Congress.

The commissioners said Polis needs to hold local hearings to gauge local opinion on the proposal.

Runyon, who was in Washington last week for the National Association of Counties annual meeting, said he met with Polis.

“I emphasized to him that a lot more work needs to be done on this,” Runyon said.

Who they talked to: Program coordinators Adam Palmer and Yuri Kostick.

What’s the status: County staff members are working to create a program what would provide low-interest loans for local homeowners who want to do energy-efficient home improvements. The loans would be repaid on participating homeowners’ property taxes.

The current idea is for the county to put up the first $1 million for the program, work out the bugs, then, perhaps, join Pitkin and Gunnison counties in selling bonds to keep the program going.

The plan at the moment is to get a resolution to create the program written by early April, so the program could kick off as soon as Earth Day, April 22.

Present: Jon Stavney, Sara Fisher, Peter Runyon.

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