Forest Service nixes grassroots call for extension of deadline for comments
PLANNING RULE … It’s deeply disappointing to just begin to understand the Forest Service’s new planning rule from all the various perspectives of multiple user groups and be forced to comment without the time to really sift through the changes to see how things on the ground will be affected. It’s impressive that Sheep Mountain Alliance was one of only three Colorado groups to comment on the new planning rule when it was in draft form for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement … County governments came to the table late. And while we have been working to understand things, we needed more time to figure out exactly what the new rule will do to local communities and the environment. We, along with many folks, asked for an extension of time to consider the new planning rule and how best to comment on it … But Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said no extension. Which sounds like “no collaboration” to me. Unfortunate, as many of us were supportive of trying to get a new rule in place. But when the center doesn’t listen to the grassroots in calling for more time to analyze and comment intelligently, it’s a good sign that everything they say about collaboration plays second fiddle to politics. And that makes us all losers.
ASHAMED? … I’ve had my doubts about the wisdom of building a noisy, polluting airport in the Telluride area 30 years ago. And I still do. I think I was quoted back in the early ‘80s on KOTO that Telluride was becoming a county sacrifice area to industrial tourism. The airport is certainly a part of that … But in a down economy, with our tourist-dependent community airport teetering on the verge of losing all future FAA funding and maybe even its commercial status, it’s hard not to look sympathetically at the Airport Authority’s attempts to find a new way to lure more airline flights into TEX. Especially as the issue of the FAA’s pre-emption of county (state) authority in all matters of flight operations (if not land use impacts) seems pretty well established in federal court cases … But this is a social hot potato. Citizens have been led to believe for years that no night flights would happen. For some it is a clear case of doublespeak. Saying one thing and ending up doing another. For others they see foreclosures, declining revenues, loss of jobs and they think making Telluride a little bit more accessible to visitors and second home commuters is a no-brainer. So, I understand strong feelings on both sides … But there was absolutely no excuse for No Night Flights Attorney Erin Johnson, who practices law in Montezuma County and lives in Dolores County, to say she was “ashamed” of the San Miguel County Board of Commissioners for not upholding her understanding of our county land use rules. That comment was unprofessional, inappropriate and insulting. Ms. Johnson can make her case in court, as she’s threatened to do in public several times now, and we’ll see what happens. But an ad hominem attack from an officer of the court in a public meeting was uncalled for … Personally, although I’m not happy to see night flights, and if the county had the authority to say no, I would seriously consider not allowing them, it seems increasingly clear that it’s out of our board’s control, legally. And as such, I think the Airport Authority is acting in good faith and with the economic health of our community in mind in moving in the direction of approving night flights in the winter ... We beat each other up pretty bad over our local issues in To-Hell-U-Ride, but by giving a thorough airing of all the issues, impacts and concerns, I’m proud of our county for looking at a controversial change from all perspectives, giving folks multiple meetings to express their views, and then for the board with legal authority to make the decision to give us their best guess. I see no shame in that at all.
PPP … There’s one kind of personal pet peeve (PPP) that drives me crazy. Especially in the winter when CDOT coats our local highways with tree-killing magnesium chloride, sand and cinders to provide traction on ice-slick roads. It’s when someone else is in a hurry and I’m traveling slow (yes, it’s been known to happen). Single-file, we reach a stretch of yellow broken line. Seeing a turn signal in my rearview, I hug the shoulder’s solid white line, and the other driver passes … Here’s when my PPP comes into play. Some drivers pull at least two or three car-lengths ahead before signaling and slipping back into my lane ahead of me. That’s courteous and considerate. Sometimes a tight reach of broken line forces a driver to dart back into my lane barely a car-length ahead. That’s annoying, but understandable. Safety first … But the drivers that push my PPP button jerk back in front of me for no good reason, spewing window-cracking rocks into my windshield, with lots of room for them not to do that … Maybe it’s a habit from darting in and out of city traffic. But in the mountains, with the roads full of small rocks and pea gravel, it’s downright dangerous. I’ve had so many cracked windshields over the years, I’ve lost count. Wish there was some way to educate mountain drivers about that.
THE TALKING GOURD
The deeper I dig
the more I realize
I will not be buried
in a shallow grave.