Letter to the Editor

This whole letter and the urge to write my first letter to the editor is because Ken Neubecker scared me into it at a recent TU meeting.

Most of us moved here hot to spend more time pursuing a passion; for the most part it was skiing. World class, Epic and Biblical are just a few adjectives I’ve heard describing our winter wonderland. So how strange would it be, to have to book a trip back to say Killington for a ski vacation? If you were only promised 25% of the snow you are used to it would not be so comical. My passion is not skiing or boarding, its fishing. I moved here for that reason, I’ve stayed for a few different ones but the water continues to run in my veins. But now on the eve of some very significant decisions, I am realizing, in the very near future, I may have to tote my fishing junk right back to the water rich northeast for a fishing vacation.
Its ski season and everyone has snow on their minds. Without mother natures help a great resort like ours is nothing more than a trendy village with fancy people in their fabulous fur coats. Global warming debates aside; we will always have some snow to mess around on, we live above 7000’ after all. We as locals make a living on recreation. Skiing and boarding are roughly 7 months worth of our pay checks, but we can’t cash our summer checks without snow either. All that could be changing.
Fishing and boating becomes an outlet and even lively hoods for many of us come summer. We are within an hour of some of the most incredible fishing in the entire Great American West. Unfortunately, if the Front Range gets its way and its water from the proposed Moffat Expansion Project, all of us who love the rivers will be booking fishing trips back in the great lakes region.
So how many of you understand that there is a 100% chance of doom actually knocking on the door of our summer fun? I have seen that infamous graph showing the water levels of our last drought year of 2002 several times in the last month. This year’s line is right on top of that one. Not much we can do Momma Nature and her cousin El Whatever seem to be in charge.
If we don’t get snow, the rivers and reservoirs will suffer, the fish will suffer, the boaters will suffer, and recreation in general will suffer. If indeed this summer ends up looking like 2002, I think it’s important to treat it as practice, because that’s how things may be all the time if the Front Range gets its way.
The Moffat Expansion Project would give the Front Range 30% more water from the headwaters of the Colorado. That basically means the Colorado will flow at 25% of its historical native flow. Trade in your Drift boat for a raft now. By right, it’s theirs to take. It’s not their right to ignore some of the significant statistics that are before them. A middle ground that would improve efficiency and minimize harmful impacts needs to be found for our children’s sake. Choosing to review partial data regarding a very fragile ecosystem is kind of like trying a murder case OJ Simpson style. There is really only one thing we can do at this point and that’s write letters, lots of them. We as outdoor enthusiasts need to write letters to the Army Corp of Engineers and letters to our state legislature. This is not something to leave for our children to do, it will be too late. E-mails and petitions are great but this situation calls for good old ink on recycled paper with a stamp. Make these people open something; make them review the data in a fair way. Saying that there will be no huge change to our historical flows is just crap, there is just nothing more to give.
This is not a maybe like Global warming, it is going to happen. A middle ground seems to be all we can hope and fight for. Simply put, diverting more water from the headwaters of Colorado is going to finish destroying an incredible watershed and its inhabitants. The Front Range has the right to the water they are proposing to take, there is no changing that. It is imperative that we fight to prove that it’s just not logical to take it from the Colorado, our “Mother River”. The facts are, we are dealing with very old legislation controlled by a Water Board for a very big city that was frankly built in the wrong place. I guess growing Azaleas and Kentucky Bluegrass in the desert is more important than Trout, birds, kayaks, and oh by the way one of the states biggest industries, Recreation.
We should all be honored to have lived and played in such a place, good economics or not, this is a true mountain paradise. This area is to rich in outdoor beauty to utter the words “remember when”, get off your butt and write. The written public comment period ends on March 17th, please don’t wait. You can learn more by visiting our local Trout Unlimited chapter’s website, eaglevalleytu.org. You will find all the facts, addresses and even a sample letter. Summer fun is right around the corner and I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces and fins for many more to come.