Edward T. Winters: Vermillion Basin, fly-over, politics and etiquette

To the Editor:

In response to the letter from Rick Hammel and the Friends of Northwest Colorado that was published by the editorial staff of The Craig Daily Press on July 20.

I feel that it is necessary to set the record straight.

First of all, it is our right to question the actions of a party that will have significant impact, whether that impact is positive or negative, in regards to the lifestyle and livelihood of the residents within a given area. The question of the fly-over by Gov. Bill Ritter and Sen. Ken Salazar is not a question of partisan politics; it is a question of etiquette.

If an official is going to visit a controversial area, and from that visit formulate a policy to give direction to the said area without even notifying the local elected officials, that is appalling.

Courtesy dictates that the Moffat County Commissioners, Sen. Jack Taylor and or Rep. Al White should have at least known of the event. This is the type of political underhandedness that breeds distrust within our political system.

Secondly, the Moffat County Land Use Board, or LUB, Moffat County Board of County Commissioners, and area representatives have been working on trying to create a vision for responsible oil and gas development within Moffat County.

I have been on the board since 2000, at that time the LUB was in the process of revising the Moffat County Land Use Plan. That body of work encompassed countless hours of meeting and discussion concerning endangered species, land use, wilderness, wildlife, water, archeological significance, oil and gas development and several other contact areas. The board created a document that represents the interests of the residents of Moffat County. Granted, you cannot please everyone and to think so is foolish, what we did was in the best interest of the residents of Moffat County.

From the Land Use Plan, an evolution to the Working Land Trust to the Northwest Colorado Stewardship and cooperative efforts in the revision of the Bureau of Land Management Little Snake River Resource Management Plan has occurred. In each step, responsible oil and gas development has been discussed and a vision for how that can be accomplished was created.

Minimal surface disturbance, timing of drilling as not to impact sensitive areas where needed, sound reclamation and monitoring and other stipulations that provide sensible development coupled with sound environmental practice is where we are at. This has been a very long time in the making. I have been a part of this for seven years.

Many meetings have been held, hours of work completed, involvement arid encouragement of the public to provide input and cooperating with the other State and Federal Agencies has been a reality. It is time to move the process along.

It is wrong for Colorado Department of Natural Resources Director Harris Sherman to be critical of and discount the cooperative agency agreement with the BLM. In fact, Gov. Ritter has started precedence with his administration to circumvent the collaborative process. The issue with Vermillion is not unique; this administration has done the exact same thing with the Roan Plateau and the Roadless Task Force for the U.S. Forest Service. Because of this administration's action, The Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado and Club 20 have passed resolutions encouraging the Governor to accept the public collaborative effort that has been done for the past several years.

Government derives its power from the people.

Because it is impossible to allow every single citizen a seat at the negotiating table, we entrust our elected officials and government representatives to speak on our behalf. I take comfort in knowing my government, from the local to the national level, support collaborative efforts like this. This country was founded on the principle of representation of the people.

The collaborative effort holds sound to that principle. I have spoken with individuals within the government agencies, and they welcome the collaborative effort. It allows them, the managers of government policy, to identify shortcomings in policy early on and allows them to deal with hot topic issues if and when they arise.

Finally for you Mr. Hammel, I have seen numerous letters to the editor submitted by you concerning environmental issues within the region. I have no problem with that. It is your constitutional right to voice your opinion and let all be informed. What I do have a problem with is, if you remember, at one point in time you were a member of the very same LUB that I serve on. In fact we served together from 2000 to 2005 when you left your seat.

At times I feel, and in your most recent letter it seems evident, you forget how much work went into creating this guiding document and subsequent work that has followed. This process has been transparent from the very beginning, and because of that, I am proud to say that I have been a part of this. So just remember, the next time you choose to criticize me and the LUB, you were once part of that board and worked with all of us in starting this process.

Thank you,

Edward T. Winters

Vice- Chairman,

Moffat County Land Use Board

Comments

Oliver 6 years, 8 months ago

72% of polled 3rd CD Coloradans want the Roan Plateau protected as do the majority of local governments in the area. Thus, as our elected representatives, Sen. Salazar and Gov. Ritter ARE representing the majority of those they are elected to serve. Somehow I cannot recall Moffat COunty screaming about 'ettiquette' when the Bush administration reversed a decade long public process that found Vermillion Basin (and portions of Roan Plateau) to have wilderness characteristics. When the Bush Administration overturned those many years of colloborative and diverse public process, Moffat County applauded, just as they have worked to get the US Federal government to allow the BOCC (and even smaller number of UNELECTED 'representatives' on the LUB) to unilaterally determine the fate of millions of acres of public lands (the 'Working Trust', RS2477, etc.

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