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Letters to the editor

Jim Gonzales

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended the 12th annual banquet of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Eagle Valley Chapter. Special thanks to Scott Schmidt and family, Teep Blevins of Blevins Construction, Terry Marcum of Shop and Hop, and Kara Heide of Vail Resorts. The attendance at our event has declined for the past few years, but we have still managed to make some much-needed money to help with the mission statement of the RMEF. The mission statement of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. In support of this mission the Elk Foundation is committed to: conserving enhancing and restoring natural habitats; promoting the sound management of wild, free ranging elk, which can be hunted or otherwise enjoyed; fostering cooperation among federal, state and private organizations and individuals in wildlife management and habitat conservation; and educating the public about habitat conservation, the value of hunting, hunting ethics and wildlife management.I have lived in Eagle County all my life, and we lifelong locals know what we have lost as far as wildlife and wild places are concerned. Much is being made of the lack of open space and how it is affecting our human existence here. We just have to look around us to see how past, present and future planners have allowed our wildlife to be placed on the back burner. The Ginn development and now the Edwards Overlook proposals will further fracture the wildlife habitat. To Mr. Ryan, I ask that you not develop the Edwards Overlook. It is critical winter range for deer and elk and the endangered plant the Harrington’ penstemon. To Mr. Ginn, please consider the wildlife when you ask to develop so much of that critical wildlife habitat. Migration corridors have been impacted and the most critical range, the winter range in being lost at an alarming rate. Here are some sobering facts: The rate of habitat loss in the West, primarilary to subdivision and development, is staggering, according to the Department of Agriculture. More than 3.2 million acres of Western ranchland have been carved up for other uses, mostly new neighborhoods and shopping malls since 1982. The human population in the West is growing much faster than the national average. Now the American Farmland Trust reports that 11 percent of the remaining prime ranchland – as much as 8.8 million acres of classic elk wintering range – in the Rocky Mountain states could be converted to residential development by the year 2020. (See Foundation Facts at http://www.elkfoundation.org.) It’s important to know that wildlife habitat is finite in that it can only support a certain number of wild animals. Those of you who think that wildlife, especially elk and deer, can just move to another place are wrong in this way of thinking. That habitat is already supporting its share of wild animals. What happens when habitat is compromised? Being finite, the land can only support x amount of wildlife. When it is overwhelmed with too much wildlife, the land itself suffers in that it cannot heal and revegetate fast enough especially the critical winter range. When elk and deer are forced out of their critical winter range, they do move into habitat already taken by other animals. When this happens, the animals are stressed and in this stressed and overpopulated environment, the animals are susceptible to disease and starvation. The land itself may not heal, and the next winter a massive die-off will occur while most of you will just enjoy another day of skiing. More and more wildlife will be killed on our highways.I love this land, for me it will always be home. I still live in my hometown. How many of you can say that? I am tied to the land in ways that most of you are not. Those of you who support the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation know the value of habitat. In Colorado the RMEF has helped saving some critical habitat. In Summit County, the RMEF acquired the Harrigan Creek parcel that was slated for development of 35-acre home sites. It is critical winter range for both elk and deer. It is now incorporated into the national forest and cannot be developed. In southern Colorado the RMEF acquired the 30,000-acre Bosque Del Hoso (Forest of the Bear), which is now the state’s biggest wildlife refuge. It has preserved and enhances thousand of acres in Colorado. These are just a few examples of what the foundation and its dedicated supporters and volunteers can accomplish. I will personally ask the foundation to try to help here in Eagle County.I think its shameful of our federal government, whether they are Republican or Democrat, in that they don’t set money aside to acquire in-holdings in our national forests. Just think of the land that could be permanently preserved if they would not build just one of those stealth bombers? Those billion-plus dollars would go along way. But instead they slash the budgets of the Forest Service and build more bombs and let greedy corporations drill, mine and devastate the environment. ANWAR is now in the crosshairs. What’s next? I guess since wildlife and wild places can’t vote, they don’t care.I hope in some way this letter will inspire some of you to do something wild for our wildlife and wild places. If all the wildlife is gone, we are just left with scenery. That would be tragic.Jim Gonzales MinturnBad billI read (The Associated Press) story Monday on page A15 and I feel the headline was very deceiving. CO SB 152 is an attempt by large telecom companies to restrict local governments from providing internet access, not expand it as your headline reads.I am a member of CGAIT, the Colorado Government Association for Information Technology, and every member is expressing concern over this bill and asking their political wing to lobby against it. This and other legislation like it is being proposed around the country by the telecom industry.Would things be better if there was no water, sewer, snow removal or trash provided by local governments? Why is Internet access any different?Think about it. Maybe we would all be better off if we had to drive to Wolcott to dump our trash. That is, if we had a landfill to throw it in.John DeNardoDirector of Innovation and TechnologyEagle County governmentThe bestThis letter is to thank Dr. Suzanne Barnes and her staff at the Eagle Valley Pet Hospital in Eagle. Last Saturday morning, Dr. Barnes went above and beyond the call of duty to try and help our 12-year-old beagle, Anna. Unfortunately, all of Dr. Barnes’ skill and training were unable to stop what nature had started. In Anna’s last moments, her professionalism, compassion and mercy softened an incredibly difficult moment for our family. Dr. Barnes is the personification of Saint Francis and what every pet owner wants in a veterinarian. Ed WoodlandEagleVail, Colorado


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