Email letters, Oct. 26, 2011

Vermillion Basin needed protection

I live and work the lands just east of the Vermillion Basin, and I’m relieved that it has gotten some protection.

Working on the land means depends on a respect for the land and a balanced approach to land management. For far too long, we’ve seen the oil and gas industry get promoted above other parts of our economy here in Moffat County.

Asking for responsible development is just plain common sense when thinking about how to conserve the agricultural sector of rural Colorado. And responsible development means recognizing that some land should stay just the way it is.

I thank the BLM and Secretary Ken Salazar for recognizing the importance of the Vermillion Basin and protecting the land and heritage of what I call home.

WES MCSTAY
Craig

Quality education creates better quality of life

Voters are faced with a decision that goes far beyond increasing tax revenue for District 51. Results will impact the future of our community and frame the opportunities that will exist going forward. The question posed goes far beyond classroom size and teacher’s aids. Efficiency is a given requirement for the district, but there is much more at stake.

Those who say, “I educated my kids and don’t want to pay any more” fail to understand that a quality school district is the key to a quality community. Physicians are recruited to come to Grand Junction to continue the excellent health care to which we have become accustomed (especially as we age). They have many opportunities as to where to establish their practice. Most have, or will have, school-age children. Why would any doctors choose to come here if the school system will not fulfill the needs of their families?

Similarly, it is not rocket science to realize that any business looking to move to a new community, or expand an existing facility, looks first to the education system necessary to meet staffing needs of the business as well as the needs of its employees. Virtually every community in this country has a mechanism to attract new businesses and/or help existing businesses remain where they are and grow. Our area competes accordingly. No enterprise will invest in a community unless there is a qualified/trained workforce and a school system that meets the needs of its personnel.

These are but two examples. The bottom line is that if you want quality of life in this valley to be sustained, if not improved, and you want good employment opportunities to remain, let alone grow, you must vote for 3B.

JOSEPH BREMAN
Grand Junction

All of west Colorado will benefit from land swap

I read The Daily Sentinel’s coverage of the proposed Bear Ranch land exchange on Oct. 23, “Swap gets second sweeter shot.”  Looks to me like the folks at Bear Ranch have gotten this one right.

The Ragged Mountains sure are beautiful country, and I’m glad to see that both motorized and non-motorized users are getting improved access to the Ragged Mountain Trail.  The new trailhead facilities and parking area at Buck Creek Ranch will be a big bonus, too.  Plus, the new section of trail they propose to build will help complete a major section of the Crested Butte to Carbondale Trail.

I’m also glad to know that the Sapinero Mesa property up at Blue Mesa Reservoir will go to the Park Service.  It would be a shame if we let that property go to residential development.  I’d love to see the Park Service finally build a visitor center up there and sounds like that is what they have in mind.  I know the recreation area gets almost a million visitors every year, and it would be nice if they had some better facilities available.

Finally, I don’t ride a bike anymore, but I’m always happy to see public use on our public lands.  Bear Ranch is offering permanent access to mountain bikers and others at Jumbo Mountain near Paonia if this deal goes through.  That will be a nice recreational amenity for the town of Paonia and the region.

I think all of us in western Colorado will benefit if this deal gets done.

CHARLES GREEN
Grand Junction

American Red Cross fire safety tips help save lives and homes

With the onset of our first signs of winter here in western Colorado the American Red Cross would like to remind everyone that the biggest disaster threat to families across our nation every day isn’t floods or hurricanes, it’s fire. Last year, the Red Cross responded more than 300 home fires in Colorado — including more than 50 on the Western Slope. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to more than 63,000 local fires, on average, each year.

History has taught us that the incidence of home fires generally increase during the fall and winter months, and most commonly occur on Saturdays and Sundays in the early evening.

During Fire Prevention Month, the American Red Cross is urging Colorado residents to take some simple steps to help minimize the risk for this type of devastating disaster:

Install smoke alarms on every level of their home, inside bedrooms and outside of sleeping areas; check them monthly by pressing the test button;
Create a fire escape plan identifying two escape routes from every room of your home and designate a meeting place a short distance from the home where family members can meet should they be separated during a fire;

Practice your escape plan at least twice a year, paying particular attention to children or older adults who may require extra time and care.

For more information on how to minimize the risk of home fires, I encourage people to visit http://www.redcross.org/homefires.

The Red Cross is not a government agency, and we depend on the generosity of individuals like you to enable us to respond to the tens of thousands of small disasters that strike every year — the ones that don’t often make the news. You can support our mission and services by donating online at
ColoradoRedCross.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

ERIC MYERS, Executive Director
American Red Cross Western Colorado Chapter
Grand Junction

Public loses in Bear Ranch land swap

The Oct 23. Sunday spread on the Buck Creek Ranch all but ignored the fact that the hiking/ATV opportunities featured are a substitute for a superior existing route to the Raggeds Wilderness on the BLM strip between Bill Koch’s two Bear Creek ranches that would disappear if Koch’s Bear Ranch Land Exchange goes through.  Both routes start in a season-extending 6,000 ft range, 18 and 23 Highway 133 miles north of Paonia. But there the similarity stops.
Bear Ranch route starts at 6,450 ft on Gunnison County Route 2 at Paonia Reservoir. A graveled, safety railed two miles later, it reaches the road across the BLM strip now separating the two ranches at 7,000 ft. Bill Koch plows this in the winter since it accesses his North Ranch. Then the BLM road (on your map, but unlabeled) goes two stunning miles east across meadows with the Ragged Mountain massif looming overhead and Mounts Gunnison, Lamborn, Ruby and Marcellina so close to the south you could almost reach out and touch them. Facing a sunny S-SW, the road dries out fast and has no dropoffs. With winter access guaranteed and a shallow 400 ft incline, a ski/snowshoe opportunity beckons. Then at 7,400 ft the Deep Creek trail across the Gunnison NF (not on your map) starts in an unusual low-elevation aspen forest to go the last 480 ft to the Raggeds. Total elevation gain: 1,430 ft, 950 ft of it in your car.
Buck Creek’s motorized route starts at 6,800 feet and goes up 450 feet on a shaded road cut into a north-facing slope that doesn’t dry out quickly. Then it’s 900 feet more via ATV straight up through hot scrub oak and pinion pine to the Raggeds Trail at 8,250 feet.  The non-motorized route goes to the same level via 1,450 feet of pure labor from the same trailhead. There are verbal promises to create switchbacks. The Raggeds cliff face is not always visible, the other mountains a distant blur. Much of the ranch is vertical, featuring impenetrable aspen thickets where trees were harvested in 1998.
DOUGLAS GILL
Paonia
Community doesn’t need dispensary

Feelings are running high on the controversial measure 2B. The question is not whether you are for or against the use of medical marijuana, but whether there should be a dispensary.

The owners argue they are providing a public service. Having a father that died of brain cancer, a mother who died of ovarian cancer and a week-old daughter who had three surgeries and chemotherapy, I can understand what pain and suffering is. Never did they require the use of marijuana for pain relief, they were able to control their pain with the prescribed medicines.

For those who can find relief only through the use of marijuana, it is available through pharmacies like other prescription drugs, eliminating the need for a dispensary. As to the community services the store owners provide, such as fixing up the ball park, my son fixed up that same ball park as an Eagle Project 6 year earlier.

Regarding the money this store brings in, I would refer to Sheriff Hilkey’s comments about the legal ramifications of increased marijuana use in a community. When our law enforcement officers are against something, we had better pay attention, they are on the front line and know the costs to our youth and community.

All of the research done in the 1970s about the use of marijuana is still relevant. Is it worth it to allow this shop to remain open and distribute marijuana all day long, everyday, to people who have the opportunity to obtain their pain relief at a pharmacy? Do we really want that much marijuana available in the community with no regulation? As you go to the polls, look ahead five or 10 years at the cost and decide if it is worth it and vote “Yes” on 2B.

MERRIJO GARDNER
Grand Junction



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