Who’d be the better ‘Decider?’

One of us just returned from a weekend outing to western Colorado’s public lands, the latest of several forays to national parks and monuments, national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands in the West this year.

One of us just returned from 18 days at his private golf club. That facility is said to have “a consistently traditional ‘gold and white with French influence’ style,” one where its proprietor “looked at all the details…making sure the chandeliers and gold leaf were done properly,”

One of us, on the eve of an impending announcement concerning America’s public lands, just returned from another continent and a Mediterranean vacation.

Who would you rather see make the announcement on Thursday regarding the fate of 27 national monuments? Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump or yours truly?

Unfortunately, that won’t be my decision. Unfortunately, it’ll be Trump or Zinke making the call later this week.

It cost us $8, thanks to our senior passes, to snag the last available spot in the 13-space North Rim campground perched on the edge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park about an hour and a half from Grand Junction. Had we wanted to visit the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, it would have cost up to an estimated $350,000 in membership and initiation fees.

It’s anyone’s guess what the tab for the European outing of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife was. Suffice it to say it was probably a little north of eight bucks.

I’d feel a little better about the impending fate of 27 recently-named national monuments if Zinke had spent time in more than a third of them during his “research” rather than lounging along the Bosporus. Or if there was any sighting of President Trump in at least one of them.

There’s no legal precedent for presidential reversal of decisions to create national monuments under the Antiquities Act long-used by chief executives of both parties. But, as we’ve learned in spades over nearly 300 days now, Trump has little interest in precedents or other legal niceties.

While monuments such as Canyon of the Ancients have already been spared in Zinke’s “review” there’s still risk in western Colorado, where an outdoor economy creating thousands of jobs and millions in spending depends upon dependably-preserved designated lands.

■  ■  ■

Speaking of our great outdoors, we should all wish Ron Velarde a long and happy well-earned retirement. Most of us who’ve worked with Ron during his 47 years with Colorado Parks and Wildlife had started to believe he might die with his boots (or at least his khaki uniform shirt) on. Whether you hunt, fish, camp or just appreciate the views, you owe a great deal to Ron and his dedication to Colorado’s lands and wildlife.

The good news, just announced, is that he’ll be succeeded as CPW’s Northwest Region manager by JT Romatzke, formerly area wildlife manager for Garfield and Mesa counties. They’re big boots to fill, but JT’s accolades as Colorado Cattlemen’s Association public servant of the year and officer of the year from the Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers as well as his work on the Cameo shooting complex indicate he’s up to the task.

■  ■  ■

Ran out of my allotted words last week, but I still want to give a shout out to fellow columnist Robin Brown for one of her comments Sunday before last about The Daily Sentinel’s weekly whine-fest “You Said It.”

Anyone else tired, as both Robin and I are, of the unsigned rantings by those emboldened by the anonymity offered every Sunday?

My favorites are the gushings of those who can afford to eat out purring about someone else picking up the tab for their meal. Give me a break! Wouldn’t it be better if both parties would “pay it forward” by contributing to Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, Salvation Army or the Community Food Bank instead of contributing to the caloric intake of a fellow diner already able to foot their own bill for the fare at one of our local restaurants?

Sorry to be biting the hand that feeds us or at least keeps us in beer money so long as its PBR or Coors Light with only an occasional Lands End Amber or Many Rivers). But it’s past time to pull the plug on “You Said It.”

Jim Spehar just “said it.” It’s your turn to comment at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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