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Vail Daily letters to the editor

Vail DailyVail, CO, Colorado

Fabulous performancesIf you were one of the lucky folks that made it out to attend and support the Battle Mountain High School Fall Music Concert on a recent Tuesday evening, featuring the school’s drum line, band, show choir, women’s jazz, and concert choir — what can you say but congratulations to music director, Ms. Sheresa Wilbanks, accompanist Marsha Marshall and every one of those students who have worked so hard these past eight weeks to provide the almost full auditorium with one wonderful performance of music after another. Doreen SomersBackcountry vital to huntersThe U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects some 50 million acres of federal roadless lands across the United States. Colorado has about 4.4 million of these acres in 345 separate roadless areas. As hunters and anglers know from boots-on-the-ground experience, national forest roadless areas, commonly known as backcountry, provide some of America’s last undisturbed fish and wildlife habitat and the finest publicly accessible hunting and fishing in the country. Too many roads increase big game vulnerability to excessive motorized vehicle disturbance and can result in shorter seasons and fewer available tags for hunters.High road densities also decrease the quality of streamside habitat, which is detrimental for wild trout and reduces angling opportunities. In Colorado, roadless areas comprise more than 58 percent of native cutthroat trout habitat and more than 50 percent of the public land in the 15 most-hunted game management units. And among these 15 units, 12 each contain over 100,000 acres of roadless public land.In addition, 92 percent of all national forest lands in Colorado already lie within one mile of a road. There are currently over 17,000 miles of roads in our state’s national forests, and the Forest Service has stated they only need 20 percent of the current road system. In the United States, more than 900 municipal watersheds are found on national forest lands, and more than 60 million Americans depend on them for drinking water. Colorado’s roadless areas cover eight national forests and help sustain nearly 300,000 elk and 600,000 mule deer, more than any other state in the country, as well as some of the finest wild trout fishing in the world. Roadless areas are also big business. For example, Colorado is one of the only states to sell over-the-counter elk tags to nonresidents. Hunters and anglers contribute $1.03 billion to Colorado’s economy each year.The futures of hunting, fishing, outfitting and other backcountry activities, together with the significant benefits they bring to our state’s celebrity, dignity and economic welfare, depend on keeping Colorado’s last remaining islands of unspoiled public wildlands intact. As population pressures increase and remnants of pristine nature continue to be chopped up, developed and motorized, the demand for quiet, natural outdoor destinations and traditional muscle-powered backcountry recreation will only grow.In 2005, 100 biologists and game managers with the Colorado Division of Wildlife examined wildlife values in the more than 300 roadless areas in national forests across the state. Unanimously, they opposed road building in every area. As hunters and anglers know from firsthand experience, roadless areas in Colorado are invaluable, and without affording them lasting protections our sporting heritage will struggle to survive. During today’s tough economic times, Americans need backcountry and sustainable jobs more than ever. Roadless areas can help safeguard both the future of our sporting traditions and the viability of thousands of businesses. We’re glad the U.S. 10 Circuit Court of Appeals agrees.David Lien co-chair, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & AnglersDoomed to repeat …Mr. Levine’s letter published on Oct. 28 is yet another demonstration of why we need to teach our kids more than just basic economics in school. Without doing so, we risk perpetuating the kind of nonsensical thinking put forward by Mr. Levine and those who think like him.Modern economic history is replete with examples of failed “tax the wealthy” schemes. The previous governor of New York state is on public record describing how their recent attempt not only failed to bring in the anticipated additional revenues, but resulted in a reduction in the overall tax take. Taxpayers subjected to increases they feel are unjustified find ways to defer or reduce taxable income in these cases, thus thwarting the intended effort.Mr. Levine wishes to traffic in facts, but fails to mention that even the most cursory search will show that 70 percent of federal tax revenues are paid by those who earn more than $100,000 per year. In other words those whom the general public and the media may deem “wealthy” already pay the majority of federal tax revenues. Moreover, nearly 50 percent of U.S. taxpayers are net zero contributors. By the time the dust settles from paying in during the year and filing a return, they owe nothing or close to it.The tax code does not need to be hijacked by more of the kind of well-meaning but intellectually deficient kind of engineering Mr. Levine appears to endorse. Now is the time for those who represent us to have the intestinal fortitude to undertake a wholesale revision of the tax code that removes loopholes and deductions that have resulted from past efforts to use the code for social engineering purposes or worse, the rewarding of campaign contributors.Sadly, that fortitude and intellectual capacity seems to be in short supply. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.Michael Connolly Eagle-Vail


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