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Letters to the editor

David Miller

Don’t like itOpen Space Advisory’s Committee’s recommendation in favor of the Bair Ranch deal: Many of the points made in the letters have merit, and I believe that the writers are sincere. What these letters ignore is the original concept the citizens of Eagle County had in mind when they voted an extra tax for themselves. I’m sure that the majority of the people that voted to tax themselves didn’t have anything like the Bair Ranch concept in their minds. I believe that most voters envisioned open space near to where they live where their children could play, where they could walk their dogs, go fishing or hunting, go horseback riding, or at least appreciate the view. With new development springing up on every vacant property in the county who wouldn’t be willing to help preserve some open space? After all, most of us live here in Eagle County because we value the unspoiled countryside.The promoters of the Bair Ranch deal may win the political battle for Bair Ranch, but they may lose the war. When the taxpayers drive by Bair Ranch and see the “no trespassing” signs and a lucrative commercial operation going on across the bridge, will they be pleased with how their money was used? Is it possible that they may decide that they no longer wish to pay into the open space fund? This lack of respect for taxpayers’ opinion is what brought about the Tabor Amendment. When will they ever learn?Our values change when we are spending other people’s money verses our own. Call me selfish but I want something tangible for my money, and I always get angry when someone thinks that they know how to spend MY money better than I do.David MillerGypsum Intact ecosystemI attended the meeting for the Bair Ranch funding and my work schedule did not permit me to be there at the opening of the meeting. I listened to Commissioner Stone read some of the negative comments about the Bair Ranch. One of the e-mails he read asked where the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Mule Deer Foundation stood on the issue. I am the volunteer chairman for the Eagle Valley Chapter of the RMEF, a life member and a Habitat Partner for the organization. I am also a life member of the Mule Deer Foundation and Trout Unlimited. … At the break in the meeting I approached Commissioner Stone and asked if I could comment. He did not let me speak, I suspect because he knows that I am tied to the RMEF. Commissioner Stone, why didn’t you let me speak? Commissioner Menconi spoke eloquently about why he moved to Eagle County and stated that he suspected that most of us moved here for the same reasons. Which goes beyond the skiing. It is a great place to raise a family and the beauty of the land is awesome. He asked if anyone was born and raised here. I was the only one who raised my hand. We who were born and raised here pre-Vail often feel overwhelmed by the growth and the sheer number of people who live here now. I guess that nearly every state is represented here and at least 22 countries that I know of. As a lifelong resident, I would like to educate all of you who have moved here as to what we had pre-Vail and more importantly, what we’ve lost. The Gore Creek Valley had working ranches and a saw mill with a two-lane highway (no the interstate hasn’t always been there). Eagle-Vail was open ranchland. The Nottinghams worked their ranches in what is now Beaver Creek, Avon, Wildridge, Mountain Star, Wal-Mart and Home Depot. Pete Dodo worked his ranch in what is now Arrowhead. The Millers worked their ranch, which is now Miller Ranch and Singletree. The Satterfields owned what is now Cordillera Valley Club. The Fennos ranched in what is now Cordillera. The Kiprinikers worked their ranch in what is now a private golf course in Wolcott. The Jouflases owned what is now Red Sky. Further downvalley, the ranches around Eagle and Gypsum are all but gone. A question that is often asked throughout the valley is “where are you from.” When I tell them that I grew up here, I am often told how “lucky I am.” I am tied to the land in a way that many of you cannot understand coming here from so many places. I love the land, the wildlife and the flora and fauna. Try to imagine for a minute what it was like here before Vail and the interstate. Can you imagine? Along with the incredible growth comes all the negative things that growth brings from pollution to crime. I am often saddened by what has happened to my part of the planet.What has happened to our wildlife with all the growth is appalling. Our wildlife, especially the elk and deer, need open space. All the development from valley floor to ridgetop has resulted in fractured wildlife habitat. Migration routes have been compromised. And most importantly, the most critical range that they need the winter range is shrinking at an alarming rate. Wildlife is being squeezed into smaller and smaller areas that is often marginal. Skiers and snowboarders pray for that winter when they can cut powder on a daily basis. When that winter comes, our wildlife will suffer terribly. The elk and deer population has risen partly because of the mild winters that we have had. If you finally get your wish for that winter of all winters and you greedily speed down the slopes, stop for a moment and think about the wildlife and what they and the lifelong residents of Eagle County have lost. Elk and deer will die by the thousands across Eagle County and the great state of Colorado. I suspect you won’t even care as you enjoy your day of skiing, dine in a fine restaurant and go home to your house which was probably good winter range for the wildlife that you/we displaced and who are dying. The Bair Ranch, which now is a working sheep ranch, is also an intact ecosystem. Wildlife abounds here, from predator and prey. Elk, deer, bear, mountain lion, coyotes, wild turkey, eagles, hawks, fishes and a myriad of other animals and insects. The Bairs work in harmony with the land and the wildlife. It is evident by the diversity of the wildlife and the land itself. If they were not good stewards of the land, then they would not be worthy of our consideration. Please support this important issue. We have an open space tax that will make millions over the years. One thing is a fact: We aren’t making anymore land. Again, try to imagine what it was like pre Vail. Some of you can’t or won’t even try, but those of us who can know the value of a place like the Bair Ranch because we know what we’ve lost and will continue to lose. In some ways we are all guilty. As for me knowing that elk calves, deer fawns, bear cubs, baby hawks, baby rabbits and all the other wild babies have a safe haven on the Bair Ranch is enough. Even if I never set foot on that intact ecosystem. I’ll just slow down and enjoy the view.Jim GonzalesSupports BairDear Board of Commissioners: As a lands program manager for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, I am asking that you support the collaborative effort between the Conservation Fund and the Eagle Valley Land Trust to purchase a conservation easement from the Bair Ranch in Glenwood Canyon. This is a rare opportunity indeed and will accomplish something truly significant for a rather modest investment. The Elk Foundation is a nonprofit, conservation organization dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. Thanks to our 140,000 members and volunteers, we have protected over 287,000 acres of important habitat throughout elk country and we work continuously to be more effective. We are very proud of our accomplishment. However, neither the Elk Foundation nor any other single organization can do it all. Colorado is home to more elk and more elk habitat than any other state in this country. Unfortunately, it is losing its habitat to development faster than any other elk state as well. Countless visitors travel to Colorado each year – not just to pursue elk, but also to fish, float, camp, hike and enjoy our beautiful landscape and unspoiled places. Few places offer the unique opportunity to enjoy the Colorado River, either on foot, bike or watercraft, while at the same time studying the incredible geology of Glenwood Canyon. For those traveling on I-70, it’s easy to understand why that stretch of highway proved so challenging to the engineers and contractors who ultimately build it.And few parcels in the canyon offer the magic and inspiration of the Bair Ranch. I suspect that it is the rare traveler who is not moved or compelled to comment when passing by for the first time. Let’s not take that opportunity away from our future guests.Thank you for your serious consideration of this most exciting endeavor.Doug RobinsonName in vainMost folks, including me, think the third of the Ten Commandments says, “Thou shalt not use the Lord’s name in vain.” What it actually says is, “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.” This is from Exodus 20:7 in the New Revised Standard Version. I use this Bible because its translation most closely approximates the original Greek of the Septuagint. Why do I bring this up? The grisly video execution of a captured American seeking work in Iraq was accompanied by cries from his captors and executioners of “Allah (God) is great!” President Bush, I heard with my own ears, said publicly, “I believe God wants me to be president.” If I were to say “God is great” and then shoot somebody in the head, would that excuse me? If I believe that God wants me to be rich and healthy, and help replace George Bush with someone who can move America in the direction Americans want America to move in, does that mean that I have got God behind me? If I use God’s name to justify my personal decisions and actions, does that make them right? This is what the Third Commandment addresses.In all honesty, I appreciate what the religious right in this country wants to achieve, which, I believe, is a return to our moral roots. However, I’d like to remind them that when the stifling Puritanism of Massachusetts proved to be too much for some colonists who came here seeking freedom, religious and civil, these colonists set out and established productive colonies which eventually became states elsewhere on the North American continent. Back then, there were enough unclaimed frontiers to do that. Today, the world has become a much smaller neighborhood. What happens in one part of the world can and does directly affect other parts much further away. If there were ever a time to preach tolerance, today would be that time. Neither the leader of this administration nor the hornet’s nest of misguided extremists he’s stirred up knows how to do that. It upsets me to hear and see the name of the Lord misused. I don’t care how motivated by their faith the users are. My faith can be summed up by something Ted Williams once said: “God gets you to the plate. The rest is up to you.” In a few weeks, I’ll be sending you my last more or less regular letter, as my wife and I will be moving on from Happy Valley later this summer. I’ll still be back to teach skiing, especially to my wonderful clients who’ve made my efforts so worthwhile. I always want to do that as long as God lets me. Gus NicholsonStill like itA Vail Daily article from last September requesting Forest Service Input on the wind-turbine project atop Vail Mountain surfaced in the stack of miscellaneous clippings on my desk.Having strongly supported the concept with a letter complimenting Cliff Thompson on his fine initial article about the subject in December of 2002, I missed my opportunity to voice my support for this outstanding energy conservation project when the request was published.Not having read anything new from the Forest Service since September, I am now writing to voice my continuing support of this outstanding energy conservation project.I would hope that others who may have missed the announcement article would use this as a reminder to send a letter of support, if it is not too late.Steve ZorichakVailThe good fightI disagree wholeheartedly with the Vail Daily’s editorial calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. In the past month, Americans have had difficulty coping with the ongoing war in Iraq, the continued casualties of our soldiers, and the embarrassment at Abu Gharaib Prison created by certain individuals within our armed forces. These few individuals have called into question the moral high ground upon which we have fought the War on Terror over the past few years.Our collective unease as a nation is understandable after viewing the Abu Gharaib pictures. We look for answers in a situation that grows more difficult by the day. While it may be easy for the Vail Daily to condemn the embarrassments of late and criticize the postwar efforts of the Pentagon, I would argue that the entire Bush administration has acted honorably in the face of an incredibly difficult task: building a free and secure Iraq.We as Americans have fought the “good fight” over the past years, defending values like democracy, free market economics, human rights, and religious freedom. Al Qaida’s message on Sept.11 was very clear: Terrorists abound who wish the very opposite for the world. While Americans can be upset at the isolated incident within the walls of Abu Gharaib, we must remember our moral compass. The soldiers involved in the prison abuse scandal do not speak for America, they do not speak for American values, and they do no not speak for the honor and distinction with which our military has performed. They certainly do not represent the efforts and intentions of Secretary Rumsfeld.Secretary Rumsfeld has served his country for nearly his entire adult life as a Navy pilot, a U.S. congressman, an ambassador to the United Nations, and a two term secretary of defense under Presidents Ford and George W. Bush. The “credibility gap” that the Vail Daily discusses is a subjective term that has become popular among the likes of activist Michael Moore and French Foreign Minister Dominic de Villepin. We must not be swept away in the anti-American bashing so common on the Arab street and among western Europe’s political elite.In place of calling for Secretary Rumsfeld’s resignation, I would like to applaud him and the rest of our armed forces for their efforts in the War on Terror and especially in Iraq. In the face of the current scapegoating by our media, let us remember why we fight: to protect the enlightened democratic ideals of our society against those who wish to see us fail.Marty WalshVail


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