Eagle Valley worries about war, energy, workers | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley worries about war, energy, workers

Kathy Heicher
Eagle Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado ” Beaver Creek resident Jim Bottomly wanted to know when the United States would get out of Iraq.

Eagle resident Yuri Kostick asked about federal income tax credits for renewable energy.

Human resources department workers from Vail Resorts asked about worker visas for immigrant employees.

U.S. Senator Ken Salazar fielded a variety of questions from constituents during a half-hour “Town Hall” meeting in Eagle on Tuesday afternoon. The senator said he makes a point of visiting each of the state’s 64 counties annually.

Dressed casually in a white shirt, blue jeans, and cowboy hat, Salazar comfortably worked the gathering of about 20 local residents. He greeted many of the audience members by name, quick to recall the issues that were important to them.

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Talking with local Forest Service employees, Salazar called the local bark beetle epidemic a “scourge” that will take some time to address.

“There’s a reality here. We’re on a journey. It’s going to take a while to get over this cycle that was brought on by nature,” he warned.

The senator brought with him a graph illustrating that since 2006, federal funding for the bark beetle effort has increased from $1.5 million annually to $15 million this year. Similarly, the number of acres treated annually have increased from 7,000 in 2006 to 52,000 this year.

The senator acknowledged Eagle County’s persistent lobbying for an airport interchange on Interstate 70. He also credited the collaborative effort of a number of communities along the I-70 corridor who are lobbying for improvements to that arterial route.

Salazar also called for a comprehensive fix on immigration issues.

The senator said he will support Barrack Obama for the presidency; and, answering Bottomly’s question, offered the opinion that Obama would get the United States out of Iraq faster than Republican candidate John McCain would.

“We will be coming out of Iraq. We need to give the baton over to the Iraqi government,” said Salazar, who has made three trips to Iraq.

He said that long-standing sectarian violence keeps the people of Iraq from moving forward.

“That’s the responsibility of the Iraqi government and people,” he said.

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