Printed letters, September 5, 2013
National parks are the “best of the best” with their unique natural features. Denali, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier and Crater Lake are examples of our best. They are generally remote from many urban areas and large in size, and they have features that are not found elsewhere.
If the natural features of Colorado National Monument can compare to the best, then it is worthy of designation as a national park. However, if its natural features are similar to other areas in the region, it should remain a monument.
National Park Service statistics show that both the Sand Dunes and Black Canyon have decreased in annual visitors since they were designated national parks, while the monument has continued to increase during the same period. Thus, upgrading to park status is no guarantee of greater tourism numbers translating into local economic gain.
If the primary reason for changing the monument to a national park is now focused on a perceived economic gain for the area, then there is no reason that all monuments should not be upgraded to park status to benefit their local areas. But that may not be a given.
Potential economic gain should not be the deciding factor. Giving the monument national park status may not put it in the “best of the best” category in the opinion of future visitors, which may have a negative impact on the local area. Make the change if it truly meets the values that the best have to offer. Being a great monument is not all bad.
Ditch bank access will cause havoc for many landowners
I haven’t walked or ridden a ditch bank for nearly 30 years. And that’s about the span of this argument. I was shut out the Tiara Rado ditch bank in 1971.
Trail advocates are actively avoiding the point. No one will ever travel from one end of the valley to the other on ditch banks. Canals don’t travel like rivers. Things get in the way. I’ve traveled the Redlands ditch banks to town. It required more road than ditch.
Advocates keep talking about “other” ditch bank trail systems. What did it take to accomplish these feats? Advocates could start by researching the trials and tribulations of building the Riverfront Trail, going back to the late 1960s Greenbelt project.
How about trails on all utility rights of way, many of which go through even more backyards? What about the railroads that do make a beeline all the way across the valley? Do railroads have more rights than citizens?
How would trail enthusiasts react if transients began camping around the Three Sisters? What if belligerent youth began tearing it up to make it into a skate park?
Trends and visions change. Meanwhile, quit asking private landowners to “donate.” Quit manipulating. Quit finessing. Recognize that you are inviting havoc into many people’s lives and your narrow “vision” is not reality.
I would also suggest the urban trails committee commit to owning this trail system rather than imposing it on taxpayers. That means you buy it, you fund it, you insure it, you police it. Maybe then you will get the point.
Recreational use of canals complicates management
Irrigation water in western Colorado is a very precious commodity. So, if you were running a business, would you welcome general unrestricted access by the public to your operation and facilities?
If you did so, would you find impacts during emergency situations and normal operations that would affect your ability, safety and costs to provide the necessary services involved? Perhaps you would have situations with the public that you would have to police and would encounter liability problems, all for the fun and access of the public.
So, if your ditch easements go through many yards, would your shareholders in these areas welcome access by the general public at all hours of the day, with anything they wanted to do, no matter how this affects their security, peace and quiet and perhaps their personal property and livelihood? Why would you let someone diminish your property rights?
Frankly, there is nothing wrong with a “common sense” realization that public access does not always mix with every liberal idea and, as such, trail development on irrigation ditches. Trail planning efforts and money need to be concentrated in other areas, not irrigation provider ditches.
We are already blessed with many existing trail opportunities in our area, and these can be enjoyed by anyone. There are also many other opportunities for future trail development, probably more so than any place I have ever been.
However, this is western Colorado, and the flow of irrigation water over 100-plus years is precious and worth protecting at any cost. Our future challenges with adequate water for all of the state are enormous. Please do not complicate our efforts with recreational trails on the very lifeblood lines of our valley. Support and respect the irrigators’ efforts to continue to “green” this wonderful valley in the lifestyle we enjoy.
CHARLES MITISEK, President
Redlands Water & Power