Email Letters: June 28, 2017

Do not shrink, rescind or otherwise alter our national monuments

Twenty-six of our national monuments in the United States are currently under “review” by the Department of the Interior. Secretary Zinke has until Aug. 26 to make a recommendation to the president as to whether these monuments should be modified or rescinded. As a part of this process, the DOI is accepting public comments, and so far, nearly one million have already been submitted – 99 percent of which expressed support of monuments. Here in Colorado, 83 percent of people support our existing national monuments as they were originally designated.

Despite this overwhelming outcry of support, Secretary Zinke has already recommended the reduction in size of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. When you ask for the input of the public, then you need to listen to what they tell you. The people have spoken loud and clear: do not shrink, rescind or otherwise alter our national monuments. These lands are some of the most iconic and spectacular places in our country, they provide economic stimulus to communities through outdoor recreation, bring jobs to the area, protect cultural and historically significant areas and artifacts, and preserve natural landscapes.

Secretary Zinke recently told Sen. Gardner that Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is not “currently not on our priority review list,” but a threat to one monument is a threat to all monuments, and considering he recently recommended shrinking Bears Ears, I’d say we’re not yet out of the woods. Public lands belong to us – the public – so it is up to us to stand up for them and voice our opinions while we have the opportunity.

Being a young member of our community, it is important to understand the impact that these public lands have on our generation and many generations to come. As our community is not only focused on living sustainably but also doing everything we can to protect the land that is rightfully ours.

Grand Junction

Urge representatives to support Resilient Federal Forest Act

With Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah all experiencing a severe fire season and our local western Colorado communities being inundated with smoke, it is a good reminder of the work that must be done to protect our communities and keep our forests healthy. Given the fact that Colorado now has an estimated 834 million dead trees, due to the on-going mountain pine beetle and spruce beetle epidemics, there is a lot of work that needs to be done.

In order to get this critical work done on the ground, Congress needs to fix fire funding and pass forest management reform. Fortunately Rep. Bruce Westerman, the only forester in Congress, has introduced the Resilient Federal Forest Act of 2017 (H.R. 2936). If passed, this act will help the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management better utilize the tools they have been given through the Farm Bill and other legislation to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire, insect and disease infestations and damage to municipal watersheds. The act will also incentivize collaboration and simplify environmental process requirements where applicable. Lastly, the act will fix wildfire funding, which currently accounts for over 50 percent of the Forest Service budget annually, by allowing some fires to be defined as a major disaster and preventing fire borrowing.

Rather than just continually throwing money at the problem, let’s fix what is causing the problem. Tell your representatives to support H.R. 2936.


Secretary Zinke, do not reduce or rescind our public lands

Our national parks and monuments are truly public treasures! I have lived near Colorado National Monument for close to 30 years now. How incredibly fortunate I am to be able to easily escape to No Thoroughfare or Monument Canyon for quiet reflection or a rejuvenating hike. No doubt my mental and physical health have benefited from this proximity to public lands.

My deep affection for and connection to the national monument in our back yard compel me to speak up about the importance of preserving and protecting the 27 national monuments currently under review by the Department of the Interior. One of these, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, is located in southwestern Colorado. Interior Secretary Zinke has implied that Canyons of the Ancients is not a priority for changes, and Sens. Bennett and Gardner, as well as Congressman Tipton and Governor Hickenlooper, have urged Zinke to leave CANM as is. Although CANM does not appear to be in imminent danger (as opposed to Bears Ears National Monument in neighboring Utah), I urge you to lend your voice to the effort to preserve and protect this southwestern Colorado treasure. With abundant archaeological resources (Pueblo cliff dwellings, kivas, and rock art), its historical significance is indisputable. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, from bears to salamanders. Moreover, CANM is managed under a philosophy of multiple use, with grazing and energy extraction coexisting with outdoor recreation such as mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking.

Public lands belong to us – the public – and the Interior Department is asking for our comments. Please participate in this process and let Secretary Zinke know that we do not wish to see our national monuments reduced or rescinded. Written comments will be accepted until July 10. Submit yours online by visiting and entering DOI-2017-0002 in the search bar.

Grand Junction

We deserve a leader committed to a fair and safe election system

As citizens all should vote. A democracy only functions properly when all cast their informed votes. This is thought so important that some countries like Australia (The first nation to institute the secret ballot) “requires” citizens to vote. In our last presidential election 42 percent, or 90 million, of our citizens did not vote and in the 2014 Colorado gubernatorial election, 47 percent didn’t vote. Would these citizens’ votes have resulted in a different outcome affecting their and our lives?

Is voting sacred in a democracy? If so shouldn’t we do everything possible to protect its validity? Corrupt political machines, both Republican and Democrat, in states and cities in our past stole our elections. The big holdovers from those times are gerrymandering and efforts to make voter registration more difficult.

Unfortunately, there is a new and unmeasured threat to all democracies. Unfortunate because it is the internet, which besides its great information possibilities, is being used to scam innocent people and also by a foreign power to interfere in our election system to try to get an outcome they see as more beneficial to them. The chief country here is Russia and its “fake” democratic leader, Putin. The four recorded avenues of this attack were/are: 1) Hack the Democratic Party HQ and give damaging political information to friendly groups to discriminate. 2) Use this to spread “fake news” through Facebook and twitter. 3) Direct contact with Trump aides friendly to Russia. 4) Breach U.S. voting systems in at least 39 states and steal voter registrations.

All our security organizations say this is indisputable, except for maybe No. 3, which is still in the investigative stage involving who was involved, and its success. Most Republican Congressmen, leaders, editorialists, and the media accept this. Even most at Fox news accept this.

In our democracy, a major job of our elected leader is to guarantee the security of our election process and punish violations. So, why is the president refusing to recognize this interference? Instead of toughening sanctions against Russia, he wants to remove them and even threatens to veto Congress’ push to punish Russia and Putin. He tweets that voter fraud cost him three million votes and thus the popular vote win and pushed for an investigation. What happened to that? Again, note that Colorado had only one case of prosecuted voter fraud. Yet our president wants to stop the investigations into Russia’s interference. We deserve a leader committed to a fair and safe election system.


Grand Junction

Gardner needs to work for those he was elected to represent

This is a letter for Senator Cory Gardner:

I am a resident from Grand Junction, Colorado.

I am retired, and dependent on Social Security and Medicare. I have been a productive citizen since 1964. In my lifetime I have paid into FICA $150,000. These are my savings for retirement, as SSI and Medicare. This means it is not an entitlement, as so many Senate Republicans seem to think. FICA stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act, in other words, our contributions towards our Social Security Insurance, and Medicare. Medicare is a single-payer, national social insurance program administered by the federal government since 1966. Medicare is funded by a payroll tax, premiums and surtaxes from beneficiaries. In other words, I paid for it with my FICA payments.

Why in God’s great name are Senate Republicans trying to hurt the American people with this bill? This is was not how Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan or Roosevelt would ever have thought to treat the people of America.

Sen. Cory Gardner, you are our employee. You work for us, the people of Colorado. We hired you with our votes, and we can just as easily fire you for not working for our best interests. I am fully aware of how much you got in donations from people like the Koch brothers. They sir, are not citizens of Colorado. Neither is the RNC. And you know it.

I personally suggest you take the break over the 4th of July to re-read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Ask yourself; am I upholding these two documents, the foundation of what has always made America great, and am I working for the real needs of the farmers, coal-miners, ranchers, and all the rest of Colorado I am supposed to represent? Because
sir, at this time you are failing us miserably.


Grand Junction

Planning commissioners ignore local concerns and rule in favor of developer

Last night the city’s planning commissioners met to discuss final approval for The Lofts large-scale dorm/boardinghouse style development to be built at 10th and Grand. It became very apparent that they knew the city made a mistake (especially in regards to parking) but they ruled in favor of the out-of-town developer and ignored local concerns, worried about a lawsuit. Historically, many awful things have been done in the name of “following the law.” However, there are always some citizens that ignore bad laws and instead do what is “right.” I want to thank the three commissioners who tried to do what was right last night.

Grand Junction

Let us focus on better management practices for our public lands

With the recent suggested alterations to the to Bear Ears National Monument in neighboring Utah, it is time the residents of Colorado take a stand against any modifications to Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.

The Trump administration is hell bound on reversing Obama-era rulings, and with that is carving the wrong areas of government expenditure. We should be focusing on national monuments, forests, parks and other public lands now more than ever, because the threat to them is greater now.

Whether you agree with the management plans in place currently, altering designations and boundaries is not something easily undone. Rather than fight against these historical and culturally sacred areas, we should take on the responsibility of furthering their protections for future generations to enjoy.

Management plans can be altered relatively easily when compared to protections set in place by our government. So, let us focus on better management practices rather than all out extermination of these areas.


There should be consequences for disobeying fireworks restrictions

Once again we are approaching that time of year, the 4th of July, Independence Day. And again we have a red flag warning, where supposedly, individual fireworks are banned in the city of Grand Junction and by Mesa County. But as usual, fireworks are still being sold, and as usual, the city and county think that individuals are actually going to abide by the decrees that no fireworks are to be used by them.

As long as we continue to have this liberal justice system in place, where the consequences for disobeying the laws and decrees are ignored, and nothing more is done other than writing a ticket and giving a person a warning, nobody is going to actually obey or even acknowledge these laws and decrees exist. How about making these people actually pay a fine of $1000 and actually letting people know that, yes, there are and will be actual consequences for ignoring and disobeying laws and decrees?

But as usual, there will be the usual excuses that we do not have enough law enforcement to cover all the areas of the valley for all the calls about the fireworks being shot off and used. Until the people learn that, yes there are and will be big consequences for ignoring and disobeying the law, then the people will continue to ignore the laws and decrees.


What is the justification for this near-criminal health bill proposal?

Whether the Republicans “health” bill will be passed or not has yet to be determined. But the party ought to be ashamed for even proposing it. Whether tax breaks should even be proposed right now is a subject for legitimate debate but tax breaks, the lion’s share going to millionaires, is outrageous. What is the justification for this near-criminal proposal?

These people are in dire financial trouble and their very lives are threatened? Not!

There is a shortage of investment capital in the country and they are the investors so their capital must be replenished? Nonsense! If anything, there is a surplus of funds available, as witnessed by the very low interest rates.

A serf mentality within the general public and a feeling of not wanting to offend their “betters?”

Our very livelihoods are at stake because these people control our workplaces and they must be kept happy?

Or, most likely, these people are the ones donating to campaign funds and their favors are critical to getting elected? Bingo!

When poverty is all too prevalent in this country and people are going to bed hungry, proposing massive tax breaks for those who least need it is an affront, to put it mildly, to humanity. What kind of crass people have Republicans sent to Congress to turn their backs on people who need help just to exist, much less to exist to be comfortable?

Is this what the Republican Party has come to: I’ve got mine, too bad about you? This is the party of the very religious, evangelical Christians? Is this “health” proposal something that Christ would likely come up with? Would Christ say, as many Republicans say, that the poor are undeserving of any assistance? Get up off the couch and get a job! Or is it just pure selfishness?

Grand Junction


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