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Swimming to State Bridge

Matt Zalaznick

We coastal and Great Lakes transplants to the valley miss the open water. So do us a favor and build a reservoir above Wolcott. A big one. With beaches and marinas and pontoon boats. With the ice caps melting, with the prospect of local families someday taking the shorter trip to the beaches of Utah and the scenic Sierra Nevada Islands, every one of us is going to have to be more comfortable around water. But try hoistin’ up the John B. sail on that puddle alongside I-70 outside of Edwards; try water skiing on the Eagle River; or pray for spring flooding and break out the outboard motors. Let the experts work out all the arcane stuff about water rights and peak flows and alkaline levels and non-native trout and recreational in-stream diversions. Instead of worrying about a Front Range water grab, think about keeping all the those Denver day-skiers hydrated and eager to come to the Eagle County to spend money, maybe even buy a condo or build a mansion – and create jobs! Because regular people really don’t care about the process or the science or the politics of water, no matter how important it may be. Most people hardly care about the politics of wars, hurricane prevention, Supreme Court nominees, global epidemics or domestic spying. What really matters is having some serious open water in Eagle County.”The Water Board” would be a very boring reality show. Let the Realtors sell off some reservoir-front real estate to help pay off the cost of the lake. Let developers build some shops and restaurants and sporting goods stores where folks can rent sailboats. Just don’t hog the shores with a ring of golf courses or gated communities. That’s a fair trade – a little less open space in exchange for the sight of a light chop on the way to State Bridge. Forget all the Teva Mountain Games and summer evening performances by the New York Philharmonic. While those events may captivate certain “niche demographics,” a lake would attract far more than niches. A lake will be the single biggest shot in the arm for summer tourism. Everybody likes lakes in the summer, and with the planet getting hotter and hotter, locals and tourists will like the lake more and more and more as destructive human activity shrinks the winters to mere cold spells and melts even the crummiest batches of man-made snow. Shouldn’t we be worried about the extinction of ski season? Shouldn’t we prepare for the day when picnics will replace powder days? Wouldn’t those picnics be much nicer on the shores of a lake than sitting beneath the eaves of five-star hotels in Beaver Creek? Local politicians love to say how we have to think about the ‘long term.’ In that case, maybe those planning the Lake Wolcott aren’t thinking on a grand enough scale – make the thing enormous!When the average spring temperature in Vail hits 95 degrees, can our merchants afford having unbeatable competitors on either side of the valley? With the lake in Dillon and the pools in Glenwood Springs (which will of course have to be cooled down), no one will want to sweat their brains out on the Covered Bridge no matter how many duck races and wine festivals and bike races Vail has. Doesn’t Lake Dillon energize the drive through Summit County? Sure, the drive from Wolcott to Steamboat’s a beaut’, but how much more spectacular would the Flat Tops look with some waves in the foreground? As e.e. cummings once said, “Everything near water looks better.”City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14620, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado


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