Welcome Donald Trump Jr.
Dear Donald Trump Jr.,
First of all, welcome to western Colorado.
You’re probably familiar with Denver: Big city, rolling plains, tall mountains in the distance, lots of cars, lots of buzz, booming economy.
This ain’t Denver.
You probably were briefed about Grand Junction. Smallish city, heavily GOP, the bulk of whom preferred Ted Cruz, but most of them are getting over it.
The Democrats are outnumbered and those who backed Bernie Sanders seem to be a bit bewildered by what’s all happened since the Democratic National Convention. They’re fractious, but not vociferous to the extent of the Never Trumpers. Sorry, but they’re around, too.
Odds are that, however competent your briefing, you didn’t get a complete picture.
What’s missing is that western Colorado sits in the heart of a long neglected strip of the country.
A quick look at a map will tell you that the nearest major population centers, Denver and Salt Lake City, mark the east and west borders of that strip of territory that contains vast energy and other resources. It’s also a series of small towns cut from the desert and some high-country hamlets, a few of which cultivate attention and THC, though not much else (Aspen, we’re talking about you. Please Mr. Trump, don’t go grubbing for cash there while you’re in the neighborhood.)
This strip of territory runs roughly south from Yellowstone National Park to Albuquerque. It includes national parks, monuments, the aforementioned playgrounds and lots of rough roads, closed mines, capped gas wells, and more moving vans headed out than in.
In short, we probably have more in common with Appalachia these days than we might care to admit.
There are rays of hope, to be sure, among them the outdoor-recreation industry you’re here to tap with a talk on wildlife conservation.
Western Colorado is pretty high on wildlife conservation — we like to watch wildlife and many like hunting and fishing. We tend to recognize that those who have jobs are more likely to indulge in wildlife appreciation of any form.
What we’d like to hear, from you, your father, or from Hillary Clinton, for that matter, is ways to conserve wildlife while also making it possible for the new and traditional industries of the West to thrive.
Generally speaking, we get thinly veiled all-or-nothing propositions when it comes to wildlife and the economy. We’d like to hear what a Trump administration would do to accommodate economic and environmental interests — with more reason and less bombast.
So far in the presidential campaign, the former has fallen short of the latter.
We get it, maybe that’s how things go down in New York City, and to be certain, it seems to be paying off for your side.
But the people of the above-described strip of forgotten territory have seen plenty of promisers and their promises come and go.
Generally, we have to put things back together afterwards.
Still, it can be a nice place, here between the metropolitan areas, where the mountains and the deserts meet and rivers flow in both directions, sometimes toward money, sometimes toward power and on occasion, downhill.
It’s that natural tendency to want economic stability, or at least optimism, and the natural wonder of this territory, we’d hope you will address in your short stay at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.
The people who will attend will hope to hear how it is that they can hunt and fish and still make a living here on the territory that is both western wonderland and battleground without having to surrender to either version of New York values now before us.
Thanks and, as we said, welcome to Grand Junction.