Letters to the editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the editor

Buddy Shipley

Don Cohen says he believes the commissioners should approve the $2 million funding of the $5.2 million dude ranch boondoggle known as High Canyon Adventures, (aka, Bair Ranch). For those readers who have not taken the time to check out this Web site (High Canyon Adventures: http://www.highcanyon.com/), here is an excerpt: “High Canyon Adventures Guest Ranch is located in the mountains of Colorado’s western slope, in the heart of Glenwood Canyon. Easily accessible 12 miles east of Glenwood Springs Exit 129 off I-70, just south of the Colorado River. High Canyon Adventures is operated on land owned by the Bair Ranch Company.”Cohen reasons, “The Bair Ranch deal makes economic sense in two ways: attracting future funding partnership opportunities and promote better planned development.” One could interpret “future funding partnership opportunities” to mean open the door for more deals just like Bair Ranch – deals that benefit a tiny few at a tremendous cost to local taxpayers. “Better planned development” means many different things to different people. One cannot assume future agreement with someone else’s as-of-yet undefined and unapproved notions of “planned development.” Cohen neglects to detail both his own notions of these “opportunities” and the intent of “better planned development.” NEITHER of which have anything whatsoever to do with the intended use of our taxpayers’ open space funds.Using Cohen’s model of the Bair Ranch deal, such opportunities clearly imply spending more tax revenues to subsidize property that remains inaccessible to the taxpayers. The very concept of using open space funds to promote “better planned development” contradicts the whole purpose of establishing “open space funds” in the first place. Open space funds cannot be used to subsidize High Canyon Adventures. The purpose of these funds is not to be used as a lure to attract business “opportunities.” Furthermore, the Bair Ranch subsidy buys Eagle County taxpayers absolutely nothing. The Bair Ranch Co. will continue to own the land AND control its use. Why do Bair Ranch proponents completely ignore these glaring problems?Cohen also slings condescending insults at those of us who object to wasting taxpayer revenues to subsidize private dude ranches. Mr. Cohen says, “So much of the shrillness of those who argue against (preserving Bair Ranch) is rooted in short-term, save-a-buck selfishness.” Mr. Cohen fails to realize that maintaining credibility in such a debate first requires participants to avoid resorting political spin and misinformation. Don’s scare tactic warning us that “because of its proximity to the Union Pacific rail line, this (BLM river parcel Bair Ranch) could be much more profitably developed as a distribution center” is just another ruse.Comparing the Bair Ranch subsidy to hosting the Olympic Games is absurd, as is the assumption that even more “deals” like Bair Ranch would be a good thing. It appears to be true that a small portion of Bair Ranch would be accessible – but only by boat. The partnerships Cohen appears to prefer put all taxpayers on the receiving end of a cellmate date.Cohen negatively refers to “stringing a rag-tag mix of development along I-70” as something to be avoided. That “rag-tag mix” to which Mr. Cohen refers is made up of many different communities from Vail to Edwards to Eagle and every place in between. Ours is an eclectic mix of people and communities, and we are rapidly building out the entire valley floor. It is here that we should focus our efforts and resources on preserving open space.Contrary to Mr. Cohen’s assertions, opponents to subsidizing Bair Ranch do not oppose ALL open space funding. Rather than wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on a private dude ranch in the guise of “preserving” Bair Ranch (which preserves nothing), our open space funds would be better-spent securing land on the valley floor where it is needed most and will benefit the most people. Like New York City’s Central Park, the best place for open space is in the midst of the area’s most dense development.Stop the Bair Ranch boondoggle.Spend Eagle county open space funds in Eagle county.Buddy ShipleyEdwardsGOCO all for Bair

As a board member of Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and past chair, I want to reiterate the board’s commitment to the Bair Ranch conservation easement, as well as my personal support of the project. GOCO has committed $1 million to the project in two separate grants because we believe in the tremendous value of the easement to Eagle County and all of Colorado. Protecting Bair Ranch from development will not only preserve valuable wildlife habitat, wetlands and open space, but it also helps to preserve the Western heritage of our state. The location of Bair Ranch at the entrance to Glenwood Canyon also makes this preservation effort a critical component in keeping this part of the I-70 corridor visually entrancing. I like to think of the Bair Ranch project as the Greenland Ranch of I-70.I urge the people of Eagle County, and particularly the county commissioners, to support the Bair Ranch project and protect Eagle County’s lands.Wade HaerleGrand Junction Gasoline’s high prices(Recently) I paid $2.34 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. That’s in the Vail Valley. How did the price of gasoline get so high, when a year ago it was about $1.69 a gallon?Let’s look at what is in the price. Crude oil at the well-head is taxed twice. The county in which the well is located gets “ad valorem” tax of about 2 percent of the value of the oil, similar to the property tax on your home. And the state gets production tax, from 7 percent to as high as 10 percent of the value of the oil produced. Then the oil is transported by truck or pipeline, for a fee, to the refinery and is “cracked” into its various components, one being gasoline. At this point “added value” taxes and an “environmental” tax are imposed. Now we come the state and federal taxes at the pump, the taxes that you, the consumer, can see posted on the pump, about 40 additional cents, bringing the estimated tax on a gallon of gasoline to well over 60 cents.The price of crude oil: Oil is sold on the open market to the highest bidder. When supplies are tight, as they are now, the price goes up, “supply and demand.” Why are the supplies tight? China! Not their deliberate fault. However, six-seven years ago China went from being a net exporter of oil to being a net importer of oil. Their appetite for oil has exploded in the six-year period from zero to almost 7 million barrels a day, fast approaching the 9 million-plus barrels that the United States imports every day. Since the world’s daily production is about 77 million barrels per day, the impact of China on the world oil market is enormous. The price of crude oil is up because we are approaching the producing capacity of exporting countries. Another significant factor in the price of crude oil: the American dollar (oil is traded in American dollars) is weak and the exporting countries are not realizing as much value relative to the euro, the yen and other major world currencies.Gasoline: The price of gasoline is up because of excessive taxation, tight world market of crude oil, excessive-expensive environmental additives, and refinery problems. Adding ethanol or MTBE increases the cost per gallon but actually reduces the energy value of gasoline. And it has been scientifically proven that neither additive results in cleaner air! Refining capacity has been pushed out of the United States to foreign countries. We actually import a large percentage of our “refined products” (gasoline is a refined product). The last refinery built in the United States was at Gaviota, Calif., 20 years ago. That refinery, which is state of the art, has never been allowed to operate due legal blocks imposed by the environmental community. The price of all products derived from crude oil – gasoline, heating oil, plastics, nylon, spandex, rubber, pharmaceuticals, petro-chemicals, agricultural chemicals, etc. – are up because of world market forces (supply and demand) and environmental constraints. Fred “Skip” Kinsley

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