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Open Space problems
(Re: “Little fracas on the prairie,” Cover story, March 12.) Thanks for the excellent article. There are things that need to be clarified.
In discussing the Vaskey population study, the article compared “4.7 million user visits” (Boulder open space) to “3 million visitors” (RMNP). “User visits” and “visitors” do not mean the same thing and cannot be compared. Boulder’s “user visits” mean how many times someone accesses the open-space system, anywhere, for any reason. A previous Boulder population study did not differentiate between activity along the Boulder Creek bike path and, for example, the far northwest side of Flagstaff. RMNP “visitor” numbers represents the number of visitors who enter and leave the park. The RMNP number does not count how many trails were visited by park visitors. (One would expect, for some of its more popular trailheads, RMNP officials know numbers of visitor access of trails.) If the RMNP visitor number were changed to an equivalent “user visits” (what Boulder attempted to count) the RMNP number would go up.
The real problem with the city’s numbers is that officials always claim millions of “user visits” because of their charge that “open space is being loved to death.” But, realistically, this is more about how Open Space has chosen to manage the land. About 45 percent of all open-space areas are Habitat Conservation Areas where all off-trail access is restricted, and bikes, horses, dogs — even if on a leash — are prohibited on some trails. (One wonders if there is a logical difference between two people hiking and a dog and a person hiking.) By design, the bulk of user visits are in recreation areas, which are mostly in the trail systems around and contiguous to the city’s boundary. It is these trails that generate high “user visits” because this is where the city has designated recreation activity to occur, and these trails are located next to neighborhoods. Thus by both proximity and rule, recreation areas generate most “user visits.”
The city wants its cake, and wants to eat it, too. By rule and proximity, people are encouraged (forced?) into a certain area (recreation areas). The city counts the to and through activity in these high-use areas, and then extrapolates these high “user visits” to everywhere in the open-space systems. What has really happened is that environmental extremists have taken a huge “preserve” bite out of the open-space apple when they designated 45 percent of open space as Habitat Conservation Areas, without any numbers or science to back them up. The Visitor Master Plan allowed this to happen. Habitat Conservation Areas were created precisely because they were in remote areas of the open-space system and had few trails and, hence, few visitors.
Now, with the grassland plan, the same “preserve-ists” want another bite at the apple. They don’t care that prior to their arrival recreation and preservation were considered handmaidens. (All the older people who voted for the open-space tax over the past 30 years are skeptical in the extreme about the bent Open Space has taken.) Now they say, “All you users go over there, stay on the trails, don’t go here or there because there are bears, or birds, or grass, or flowers, which you will ruin, because you’ll scare them, or your dog will poop on it, or you’ll step on it,” and so on. Open Space won’t be satisfied until they are so engrained in the system that every visitor has a guide so the natural world can be fully appreciated by virtue of the expert in tow.
It is about time the city, including City Council, take note that voters voted for open-space tax because people “get it” about what the natural world is and means. Open Space has $24,000,000/year budget in earmarked funds from voter-approved bonds. This money is separate from all the other city services like police, libraries, human services, etc. Open Space has been awash in its own radical politics and budget largesse for so long, it no longer has common-sense priorities. Note that in the entire article there was not one word about the cost of the grassland study, much less how much it will cost to implement, on the ground, whatever it is the study recommends.
The proposed 200-meter trail exclusion boundary around any open-space land that has any surface gravitational water is the equivalent of two football fields. That is how close those who put together the grassland plan want people to ponds, ravines, creeks, etc. The proponents of the plan, with their environmental ethos, are like a new sect of priests who want to humble the public into submission of their beliefs about what we must do to save the world. The only question I have of City Council is: Who let these people be in charge of open-space policy?
Support NNPT nations
(Re: “Don’t let Iran go nuclear,” Letters, March 5.) In response to last week’s letter regarding the Iranian nuclear program, I would like to remind your readers that Iran has signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. This treaty was created 37 years ago, and 188 nations are members of it. At the time it was created there were five nuclear powers: the United States, Russia, China, England and France. Now there are four more nuclear states, India, Pakistan and Israel — none of which ever signed the treaty — and North Korea, which recently withdrew from the treaty. The treaty says that non-nuclear member-countries may install nuclear power plants for peaceful and scientific purposes (such as providing energy for their people).
Iran is totally within its rights to build as many nuclear power plants as possible. In the George Bush era, he and Dick Cheney chose to disregard numerous treaties and agreements that we had signed, including most shamefully the Geneva Convention. As the most powerful nation, we have a responsibility to be true to our word. Otherwise, we are just liars, hypocrites and bullies. We should support any nation who has signed the NNPT to pursue nuclear power through building power plants. I am sure that Paul Danish agrees with me, because he is such a huge supporter of the benefits of nuclear power in general.
David Horowitz needs to be praised for exposing Ward Churchill for wasting state educating funds when he was supposed to be teaching regular education, but instead pushed his own political agenda. David Horowitz’s two books exposed Mr. Churchill, the professors and the one-party classroom
Tom Chastain/Tampa, Fla.
Capitalism is a Ponzi scheme
The imprisonment of Bernard Madoff for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme seems hypocritical to me. A Ponzi scheme is just an investment scheme that uses investments from new investors to pay returns to existing investors, but when there aren’t enough new investors it collapses.
Isn’t that exactly how the stock markets operate? The reason that stock prices of some of the biggest companies in the world can plummet to zero in a matter of hours is because the markets are not based on productivity or actual value. It is all based on supply and demand of the shares themselves. If you think about it, capitalism itself is just an institutionalized Ponzi scheme.
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