Printed letters, August 7, 2012
My job depends on the Colorado River, so when President Obama arrives in Grand Junction this week, I’ll be listening closely to see what the president’s plans are to protect this economic lifeline for the Grand Valley, our state and the entire Southwest.
Every year, a population 2.2 times greater than the entire Denver metropolitan area descends upon the river and its tributaries in Colorado to recreate, leaving a trail of $6.4 billion behind in exchange for hotel stays, meals, souvenirs, rafting trips and countless other products and services.
If the Colorado River were a company, it would be the 19th largest employer on the Fortune 500 and rank ahead of companies such as General Mills, USAirways and Progressive Insurance.
But without the leadership of President Obama and the adoption of conservation measures, we won’t always be able to rely on the river to create jobs and support our tax base. Years of drought paired with large population increases across the West have taken a severe toll on the river, and currently more water leaves the Colorado River than enters it each year.
If we stay on our current course, the Colorado River will slow to a trickle. And so, too, will the tourism dollars flowing into our state, the profitability of our outdoor recreation economy, our jobs and our current way of life.
If the president remembers one thing from his visit it should be: The Colorado River is good business for Colorado.
Adventure Bound River Expeditions
Credit reservoir system for good water flow in drought
I read with interest that the Yampa River is running so low that water temperatures threaten the survival of fish in the river. Consideration is being given to releasing water from upstream reservoirs to save the fish.
It is reminiscent of 10 years ago, during the previous drought and a family vacation downstream at Echo Park on the Yampa. Flows were so low that my six-year-old son waded across the Yampa and only got wet to his knees.
You see, environmentalists are so proud of the Yampa being one of the last uncontrolled rivers in the West. Yet, at times of drought, it almost ceases to flow, while the adjacent, highly controlled Green River continues to flow due to releases from the dreaded Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
No thanks to the environmentalists, hated reservoir water continues to flow for power generation, irrigation, recreation and municipal use in river systems throughout the West. The reservoirs are doing exactly what they were designed to do. It is ironic that the iconic Yampa may need some of this stored water for its very survival.
Grandiose titles won’t change what a facility has to offer
The idea of changing the Colorado National Monument to a national park is strangely reminiscent of the new title for Mesa State College.
Historically, when a college became a university, it was because it was fairly large and offered a diversity of programs. Likewise, national parks have tended to be larger and to offer more diversity of landscapes than monuments. Compare it to Yellowstone or Yosemite.
It seems that nowadays we can assign whatever title we want to something, for the sake of marketing. So, while I’ve never earned my doctorate, I’ve decided to go with the title of “Dr.”
There are reasons why CU and CMU don’t both deserve the status of university. Let’s not make the same mistake with the monument just to increase tourism and business.
Making wise health choices won’t save you tax money
Recently, I was able to speak to Ellen Steiner with Sen. Michael Bennet’s office. Steiner answered questions about the Affordable Care Act. I appreciate Bennet’s office for providing an avenue for questions about the ACA.
My specific question was regarding any provisions for those who live health-conscious, low-risk lives, who are little or no burden on the health care system. Will there be any provisions or breaks for them, or will the tax burden be the same on them as on those who are less health conscientious?
The answer was, no. The ACA makes no distinction between those who eat healthily and exercise regularly and those who jeopardize their health by smoking, drinking and undisciplined eating. All will be taxed equally.
I could afford the tax, I suppose, if I canceled my gym membership, but how ironic would that be?
If Steiner has misinformed me, I would appreciate someone offering correction. However, my conclusion is that, under the ACA, taking personal responsibility for our health means nothing.
I am fully supportive of affordable health care, but if this is going to be handled by the government, it should not be this government.