Printed Letters: May 7, 2017
Bears Ears is worthy of monument designation
We just returned home from a week at Bears Ears National Monument. It is not only beautiful, but was home to thousands of pre-Utahans 800 and more years ago. Learning and speculating how they lived is fascinating. Exploring ruins and rock art, some difficult to find, is an adventure.
Even as my old body screamed for relief, we hiked to ancient ruins. Our discoveries were worth the pain. And not every ruin is hard to find. For present day residents, the monument is an opportunity for local business. Several people in the business told us tourism is up 20 percent this year because of the monument designation.
Unfortunately, lots of politicians oppose preservation of the land and evidence of ancient cultures. Some in Utah want to seize the land to commercialize or sell for development. State ownership would likely require high entrance fees, strangling tourism. Parks and monuments are often initially opposed locally; embraced a generation or two later.
One very successful business owner told me local opposition comes from residents who want to turn back time. I understand the desire to return to long ago happy times that may not have been so happy when we lived them. No one has successfully reversed time, but some try. This fantasy is not unknown in the Grand Valley. That successful businessman thrived because he recognized and embraced the present.
Not only is Bears Ears threatened, but Canyons of the Ancients in southwest Colorado and Grand Staircase-Escalante in south central Utah also have been targeted. We’ve explored these monuments too. All are worthy of protection. Bears Ears may exceed national park standards.
Utah’s politicians do not seem to appreciate what they have. Scenic and cultural value does not impress them. Go see for yourself. Bears Ears is less than 200 miles away.
Tipton voted to take away your health care, close our hospitals
It is critical that every resident in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District knows what “our” Rep. Scott Tipton, voted for in Washington. He voted to take health care away from all the working poor currently covered under the Medicaid expansion (149,000 Colorado families). He voted to raise premiums on everyone over age 50 by $3,000-$5,000 a year. He voted to allow insurance companies to raise premiums on those with preexisting conditions (about half our population) with no cap. Both these groups will probably drop insurance rather then pay the unaffordable premiums. He voted to allow even employer insurance companies, to again put caps on how much they will pay on policies annually and in a lifetime — allowing the return of medical bill bankruptcies.
In short, he voted to close every one of our rural hospitals and clinics in Western Colorado. No hospital can sustain expenses when nearly half the population is uninsured. He did this despite the efforts of the AARP and all medical providers being against this legislation. Remember this! Regardless of what happens in the Senate with the AHCA, Scott Tipton voted to take away your health care and close our hospitals.
Better to be capable of giving than entitled to receiving
It is better to give than to receive. You can give encouragement if your character is one of kindness and joy. You can give honor if you are willing to consider others better than yourself. You can give possessions or money if you have worked hard enough to have some. You can give protection if you have gained the skill needed to defend others. You can give time if you are not already a slave to debt or a slave to your schedule.
When life becomes overwhelming, people find they have less and less to give. They still care about people, so they are tempted to vote for the government to give. But when you vote for someone else to give their time, using money that was taken from your fellow citizens, you are saying that their time is worth less than yours. You are saying that your neighbor’s money is worth little and forgetting the blood, sweat, tears, and hours of drudgery and frustration that they went through in order to earn what they have. You are willing to donate what belonged to someone else in order to be generous in an era where everyone is too busy to build what it takes to truly give.
Where are the conservatives? They are busy working hard and minding their own business, because they would rather be capable of giving than entitled to receiving.
Many will be devastated by not being able to afford healthcare
Our Republican Congress, including Scott Tipton, has finally passed a bill that will repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act and get rid of “affordable.” Paul Ryan repeatedly said everyone would have access to health insurance. Everyone does have access to health insurance now. Stop by an insurance agency today for a quote. They’ve got it, but you may not be able to afford it.
I’m not as concerned with how this will affect me as it will affect many others. A workplace accident and a boss who didn’t pay his workman’s comp bill left me totally disabled. Fortunately, this also qualified me for Medicaid and Medicare. I love this health insurance, which I paid into most of my lifetime, and I wish everyone could have such great care. Medicaid for all is a good idea, and our country can do this. Insurance companies can make their profits from auto, home, and life, etc. It is morally wrong to profit from a person’s health.
I have friends and family, Republican and Democratic, who would be devastated by not being able to afford health care. This bill is now going to the Senate, where one Democrat and one Republican represent us. Will their votes cancel each other out, making Colorado voiceless? Will Cory Gardner vote to help the people he is supposed to stand for, or will he vote to make the richest 2 percent just a bit richer?
Our protected lands remain a cultural necessity
On April 26, President Trump signed an executive order that firmly places our national monuments, and our western values, in the cross hairs. Now, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will spend the next 120 days recommending which monuments to reduce in size, and which to eliminate altogether. Effectively under siege are any national monuments designated after 1996, including the beloved Browns Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients, and Chimney Rock here in Colorado.
By means of opening the door to review, the administration has questioned the necessity of any land-use designation that is not strictly commercial or industrial. To those with limited interaction with undeveloped places, the need to retain them for future generations is unclear. According to the National Park Service’s visitation statistics for last year, however, there were more than 500 million combined visits between national parks and national monuments. This protected land is by no means unused, and remains a cultural necessity.
This executive order is, by its very nature, the same government overreach it claims to address. This overreach is being conducted on behalf of industry, against the values of equity and liberty guaranteed by public land.
The Trump administration is conducting an unprecedented assault on the legal foundation for any cultural and ecological preservation. The Antiquities Act is essential for maintaining the 188 national parks and monuments in the U.S. With 80 percent of Americans in support of continuation of national parks and national monuments, rescinding even a single monument designation would be out of step with public sentiment.
As Zinke makes his recommendations to the president, I hope that he remembers that the West is made up of an active citizenry, along with ranching and oil interests. By honoring all of our existing monument designations, we retain the local heritage and values intended by their widely popular adoption.
DAVID K. LAGRECA
Horizon Drive generates large amount of business in city
We appreciate Mr. Rick Wagner’s recent mention in his opinion piece (“Practical isn’t always boring,” April 27). The Horizon Drive Business Improvement District does in fact generate “a tremendous amount of business” in the city. An economic impact study conducted in 2011 found that the district contributes about $300 million in economic value annually; at that time, roughly the same as Colorado Mesa University.
While the Horizon Drive area doesn’t get nearly the amount of support as downtown, we were fortunate to partner with the city and the Colorado Department of Transportation to complete the Interstate 70 interchange last year. The keystone project helped to make our “gateway to Grand Junction” more welcoming and memorable, as well as safer and more functional. This $6.6 million project has already stimulated $10 million in private investment in the Horizon Drive corridor, an impressive return on investment in a short time frame.
Of course, there is still much to be done in the Horizon Drive District. Forty-nine percent of the land within the district is currently undeveloped. Nearly 700 acres of land adjacent to the district is undeveloped. And safety of pedestrians continues to be a major concern. Three pedestrian deaths have occurred in a five-year span on Horizon Drive.
While we tirelessly continue to work to find monies to complete Phase 2 of our Horizon Drive corridor improvement, we do recognize the support the city has given us thus far and also are aware there simply are too many areas of the city needing improvement, and not enough revenue to address them all.
Manager, Horizon Drive Business Improvement District