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Letters to the editor

Andy Wiessner

Did anyone notice that much of the opposition to the Bair Ranch project came from anonymous “Tipsline” callers? It’s impossible to have any disussion with them, because they don’t have to identify themselves.It’s another example of the great community service provided by “Tipsline” to bring our community together and promote constructive dialogue! NOT!Tipsline is a disgrace.In any event, for those unidentified individuals who opposed the Bair Ranch for heartfelt reasons, I would hope that now that it’s actually approved, you would be pleased that 7.5 square miles of land will forever be protected from subdivision and further development, as Commissioner Gallagher so eloquently pointed out in his remarks to the public.As for the “Tipsliner” who complained that the Bair Ranch won’t be protected because sheep will “trample and chew” the land, I would invite you to join me in visting both the Flattops and Eagle’s Nest wilderness areas. The Flattops Wilderness has the largest sheep, and elk, herds in Colorado, and yet they seem to co-exist peacefully. Likewise, the Colorado Division of Wildlife has testified that the Bair Ranch is “superb” wildlife habitat, even though it has been grazed by sheep for almost 100 years. What does our Tipsline caller want? To see sheep and cattle ranching disappear in the county so that yet another pasture can fall to Wal-Mart and Home Depot? I like ranchers and the ranching industry, and hope they stay part of the Western landscape.Andy WiessnerVailAdmires MikeI thought Cliff Thompson’s observations about Mike Gallagher June 4 were accurate and poignant. I don’t always agree with Mike’s politics, but I will always admire his long and meaningful service to Minturn, Eagle County and the country. In the late 1970s, when we were reconditioning the old Battle Mountain Junior/Senior High School to serve as a home for Colorado Mountain College, Mike was extremely helpful to me. He was always easy to work with and was always accessible. It would be hard for anyone to match the number of meetings he has attended over the years or the number of friends he had made as a result of his efforts and sincerity. I wish him nothing but the best for his future, and I hope everyone will join me in offering a prayer for his improved health. Randy Milhoan Minturn GridlockThank you, AP writer Robert Weller, for your balanced and clear article about I-70 and its attendant problems for the mountain communities that it serves. Vail Mayor Rod Slifer is absolutely correct in saying that continuing to rely solely upon I-70 for transportation to the mountains will be untenable in 15 to 20 years. In fact, it will become impossible in a far shorter period of time. Who can drive I-70 east on Saturday morning or west on Sunday evening during ski season and not realize that?The short-sightedness of the state’s transportation officials is terrifying. So what if it would cost $7 billion-$8 billion to build a train or monorail from Denver? The state (and feds) spent more money to build the section of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon than was spent on any other road in the world. Considering where gas prices are going, and the cost to the environment of those millions of gallons of gasoline being burned on I-70, even $10 billion is a pittance compared to the real cost of continuing to use cars to access the mountains. (And I’m not even going to discuss how that number compares to what we are spending daily on the war in Iraq.)So what if the state doesn’t currently have the money to qualify for federal funding for a train or monorail? Simply add $2 to every lift ticket sold at ski areas in the I-70 corridor, and the state would soon have the money it needs to apply for federal funding. Visitors spending dollars in the mountain resorts put tax money into the state coffers, so add one-quarter of a percent to the state sales tax, ear-marked for the train, and rescind the tax when sufficient funds are raised. (This is a traditional and universal way for states to raise money for capital projects.) And how many citizens of Summit and Eagle counties would begrudge a $50 annual tax to prevent I-70 from being widened, bringing more cars to our already full garages and roads, and more noise and air pollution to our towns?The state needs to tell us what the actual cost to individual taxpayers would be to raise the money to qualify for federal funding, before raising the spector of $8 billion to reject the only viable option for keeping our communities livable over the next 25 years.Give us the facts, so we can have an informed voice on the issue that may impact our quality of life more than any other.Kathy MorseEagle-Vail


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