Letters to the Editor
Vail CO, Colorado
Don’t clear cut the forest
(Refer to “A clear-cut solution”.)
To imply that clear-cutting 2,300 acres of trees around Indian Creek has anything to do with “trying to save our forest from this historically natural phenomenon that threatens to kill nine out of 10 lodgepole pines in our forest,” is misleading. It’s simply not true. This clear-cut is in no way a solution to our problem of pine beetle infestation, nor does it “protect our important watersheds ” our rivers and streams that make this place a vibrant and healthy place for humans and animals alike.”
Most likely our Forest Service folks are simply sacrificing a few hundred acres of somewhat out-of-the-way trees to the timber industry gods. Allowing the Forest Service to sell some still useable wood might enhance the U.S. treasury a bit – offsetting some of the cost of clearing fire-ready trees from near homes. The question is how much government revenue is anticipated from this project, relative to the dollar value of the trees to the logging industry?
Historically, similar federal government arrangements are sweetheart deals for industry, made at taxpayer expense. Denuding hundreds of acres of trees near Minturn, Eagle-Vail and the forest surrounding Beaver Creek is a catastrophe. It will have a significant negative environmental and economic impact on our area. One more time the best interests of “we the people” are crushed by special interests, politicians and the bureaucracy.
There is no real life experience to support this new theory that clear-cutting will somehow lead to faster or qualitatively better recovery results than nature in our circumstances. In fact, the positive recovery of Yellowstone National Park’s burned areas is testimony to the value of letting Mother Nature take her course. And, since the proposed clear-cut is not near our populated areas, it will not protect our homes and businesses.
Your commentary offers no basis for supporting this clear-cut so promptly. Follow the money, investigate the science, quantify the economic impact, interview local developers and then share what you learn along with your position.
James C. Risser
Expand forest saving plans
(Refer to “A clear-cut solution”.)
Your editorial of Aug. 1 on the actions being taken by the Forest Service with respect to the lodgepole pine beetle infestation merely touches the tip of the iceberg. To mix metaphors, I guess like Nero of old, the fire has to be well and truly blazing before we complacent citizens stop fiddling. There is at least one significant difference between the present situation and the 1880s or whenever the fires last ravaged White River Forest and the lodgepole pines. Today there are trillions of dollars of fixed investment (houses, communities, shopping complexes, ski resorts etc.) and variable investment (tourism) pouring into the area. The very essence of Vail Valley is the forest setting. Surely the stakeholders have a vested interest in not going through a 50- or 100-year “natural” cycle?
A quick meander via Beaver Creek Mountain to Beaver Lake and beyond demonstrates clearly the effect of the pine beetle and I suspect a few other parasites. The U.S. government has granted the Forest Service $1 million for this problem for the state of Colorado (read: less than the average value of one condominium in Beaver Creek). We have never wanted big government; we don’t trust government with our money at the best of times so we can’t rely on a government to deal with what is essentially a local problem.
The beetle epidemic is clearly out of control and current thinking (refer to the Vail Daily, July 30, 2007) is that full clearing of all trees is the only solution. The little area being addressed by the Forest Service (2,300 acres as mentioned in editorial of Aug. 1) does not include Beaver Creek Mountain. And this “small project” is a five- to 10-year project for one miniscule slab of White River National Forest.
Beaver Creek relies on homeowners and tourists (summer and winter) to survive. A Beaver Creek without forests is not a pleasant summer resort (except maybe for a few holes of golf) and already articles in papers are advocating to avoid this area because hiking, camping, and generally hanging out in dead tree forests is not ideal for summer vacations.
It seems there also will be negative ramifications on skiing in the winter.
I do not claim to have any solutions except action seems to have been needed yesterday. A suggestion, though, comes to mind. Could the Beaver Creek Resort Company, the numerous homeowners associations, big realtors (Slifer, Smith and Frampton, Forbes, East West Resorts, etc.), and those with commercial interests who rely on the valley for their existence (for example, much of Edwards and Avon) and of course the “de facto owners” Vail Resorts come together to create a small proactive working task force?
This group could perhaps even fund and manage (in collaboration with Forest Service who actually do own the trees and have the expertise) a sequential clearing, beetle eradication of cleared land and replanting program so we do not have a 10-year period of dead trees and then a 10-year period of cleaning and replanting? Small projects starting now will mean an ongoing and gradual replacement of the current forests in the ski resort areas.
In short, complement the state initiative via the Forest Service with a private sector initiative.
I am reminded of the annual pilgrimage many years ago of immigrant workers into Washington state each year to undertake the fruit picking. Such controlled programs (this is a big project just to manage the Beaver Creek to Arrowhead sector and will last for a number of years) could provide the necessary workforce.
Short of proactive leadership from the above entities ” all of whom are stakeholders and many have made and still make their livelihoods out of Beaver Creek and the Vail Valley ” it is likely that the exclusive position and beauty of the this resort will be severely impacted for many years.
The tipping point in terms of a red blanket of lodgepole pine trees has long past. The next five years will see an acceleration of this effect as most trees are already dead. And then there is the effect of possible brush fires (worsening each year as the dead trees topple and pile up).
Fires do not discriminate between big, medium and small houses on mountains.
Reconsider VR vote
The conspicuous building adjacent to the Lionshead bus circle is problematic.
In the Vail Renaissance, one would expect to see vibrant retail shops. Rather you see offices ” only one notch above the image of boarded-up store fronts.
Why is this so? Well, two-and-a-half years ago the storefronts were vacant. So, Vail Resorts came in and was authorized to lease the space as offices under an existing town ordinance ” a win-win for everybody at the time. Now, their permit is up in January 2008 and everything has changed. Lionshead is now the place to be. So why not use that building for vibrant retail shops? Well, the tenant now wants to extend their use of the building as offices for three years or longer ” a win for them, but a loss for the town. Why a loss for the community? Because we lost sales tax from not having retail shops, and the before-mentioned poor image for our guests.
Wouldn’t this be a slam-dunk decision for the Vail Town Council, especially considering it is not just a matter of extending the office use under the existing ordinance, but would require the council to create a whole new ordinance for this situation? Apparently not, because the ordinance passed on the first reading.
But surely there are other key considerations not mentioned above. Let’s see:
– Probably the amount of lost sales tax is rather small. Unfortunately, this was never publicly released information, if it was estimated.
– Probably no one is interested in leasing this space for retail. One speaker indicated there is interest. In any case, this should have been throughly researched, rather than relying on anecdotal evidence.
– Probably every possible office space alternative was considered, which would have allowed VR to stay in Vail, and submitted to the council before the vote. After listening to the council deliberations, it appears this information was not provided to them.
– Probably there was some trade-off the community was not aware of? If so, it should have been made public.
In short, it appears this whole issue came to a vote before all the information that could have been available was assembled.
This letter is meant as a plea for the Vail Town Council to have more comprehensive dialogue before taking their final position on this all-important, precedent-setting vote. It also intended to bring out folks for the Aug. 7 second reading of the special ordinance at the town meeting regardless of one’s position on this issue.
Recall rhetoric gets personal
Arn Menconi’s self-appointed campaign manager, Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers, is now back-tracking, saying that recall supporters, who are simply exercising their First Amendment right to petition our government, are no longer stupid. Rogers now says we’re not stupid, only the recall is stupid.
Rogers also says the timing of the recall is stupid. I guess we should have checked with him to see when he thought it would be OK to petition our government. Rogers blames us if we miss a Nov. 6 normally scheduled election. Of course, he never asked us about the details of how all this came about ” or the mass confusion in the Secretary of State’s office ” or the conflicting laws on recall elections versus coordinated elections ” or the incorrect timeline given to the committee. Why should Rogers ask these questions, when he doesn’t want to be confused with the facts?
Rogers says that organizers of the recall should have put more reasons on to the petition, that state law requires to be limited to 200 words maximum. Only a wordsmith like Mr. Rogers could have done that.
We were given 27 reasons to recall Menconi. Divide 27 into 200, and get 7.41 words per reason. Obviously, this is impossible to do, without being given extra words to explain better. Maybe we should have hired Mr. Rogers to do it? And, who needs 27 reasons to recall Mr. Menconi? For most people, only one or two reasons would do. As one of our supporters e-mailed us said, “I want to recall him for the simple reason that I just don’t like him”! Yes, our recall laws allow for even that reason.
Now he calls us insincere, questions our “concern for the community and taxpayers’ interests,” questions our honesty, and questions our honor. Oh yes, he now says we are “clever.” Wow, in a week we went from stupid to clever. Are you sure, Don?
These are more personal attacks, from a guy who rarely goes to county meetings, and rarely allows his county beat reporter of the month, to spend much time at county meetings. Rogers admits that he sits in an ivory tower in his “window on the world.”
Rogers conveniently failed to report that Mr. Menconi demanded that the county property, that now seats the Women’s Resource Center, go out to bid, so Menconi’s nonprofit Snowboard group, which Menconi’s family profits from, could bid against the battered women’s shelter.
Rogers just likes to say that Menconi’s group’s bid was a half-hour late, and Menconi recused himself ” as if this makes a difference.
If anything, it means that after Menconi made a fool of himself by selfishly demanding the property go to bid, that Menconi and/or his designee, was then dumb enough to submit the bid a half-hour late. Mr. Rogers seems to think being late makes it all OK?
Maybe Rogers isn’t aware Menconi demanded it go out to bid. But then, obviously Rogers isn’t aware many of the facts of about the other reasons we cited for Menconi’s recall.
Simply put, Rogers doesn’t know much, except what Mr. Menconi tells him. Rogers could have learned what we know, years ago, had he chosen to bring himself, or require his staff, to do a little basic, investigative reporting. Rogers could begin by asking other people, besides Menconi, who attended county meetings, as to what they remember. But, he won’t now, as he didn’t then.
By the way, the minutes of that meeting allegedly seem to be missing. How convenient!
Mr. Menconi is Rogers’ boy. Rogers’ boss sits on Menconi’s board. Cozy little relationship, isn’t it? Friendship kinda gets in the way of reporting the facts.
We don’t take Rogers insults personally. We just feel sorry for Mr. Rogers. After all, he’s so invested in saving Menconi, that he continually acts as though he’s Menconi’s campaign manager.
We think moderate online blogger, NeoLibCon by rfabro, said it best when he blogged, “Whoa, slow down there, Don, you’re taking this way too personally as an editor. Newspapers should not play politics, only present differing opinions from people in politics.”
We doubt Rogers will run this rebuttal letter at all, let alone in a timely manner. Maybe Mr. Rogers will require us to have a minimum number of words to respond to his latest attack. Maybe we should have him write our rebuttal, so it pleases him.
We’ll probably go to Denver and print our own newspaper, for distribution in Eagle County, if Rogers continues to not run all of our rebuttals.
But, I wonder how we’ll be able to afford that, since we’ve allegedly only collected about $200 in donations, again, according to Mr. Rogers.
Mike Reid, Chairman
Committee to Recall Arn Menconi
Editor’s note: The Vail Daily policy is to run only one letter per letter writer per week. However, Don Rogers is posting all of Reid’s letters to his blog as they are received. To view his blog, log onto http://www.vaildaily.com/blog.