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Far less crowded times

Dear Editors,

I breathe a sigh of relief as I hear of efforts by those, such as Friends of the Animas Valley, who are attempting to give citizens a greater voice in the area's future. But as a long-time activist, I am perhaps jaded and feel that both FOAV and their critics miss the point as they buy into this nation's love affair unique among developed nations with growth.

In 1977, I participated in an effort in Fort Collins to limit building permits in such a way as to cap growth in that community at about 2.8 percent a year, a reduction from upwards of 4 percent a year. Now, those numbers may sound low, but they represent growth rates unmatched anywhere but in the Third World and population doubling times of 26 to 18 years! This referendum so frightened real estate speculators and land developers that we found ourselves up against huge dollars from outside the area, including the National Association of Homebuilders and others. The election even received coverage in Time magazine. This was a lesson to developers, it warned, that higher standards for planning had to be brought into communities.

I cannot recall the exact outcome, but considering that citizens supporting the initiative were outspent something like 18-to-one by outside money interests, we were encouraged by a close outcome in the developers' favor. More, the "no-growth" initiative, as it was branded (Hardly!), so shook land speculators that they agreed that development must pay its own way. We, in effect, got more-or-less solid, planned growth and growth that would do less to burden taxpayers while enriching only the pockets of developers.

The result? Was it a happy-ever-after story? Hardly. Fort Collins' "good" growth now sprawls over much of northern Colorado, contributing a major portion to sprawl that threatens to reach from Fort Collins to Pueblo as Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, years ago, warned would happen. The town's dramatically increased population, in and of itself no matter how well planned or placed contributes smog to the Front Range's brown cloud, and thousands of acres of prime farm land and wildlife habitat have been lost .

While that growth may be planned and directed, it still has the inherent impacts of all growth. More, it dodges the main issue, which is that the United States is the third fastest-growing nation, and the West is growing in leagues with sub-Saharan Africa, as we boom toward a likely 1 billion Americans this century. In contrast, Europe has effectively stopped growing, with Japan, Australia and New Zealand close behind.

One is reminded of Colorado State University Economic Professor Emeritus Al Bartlett's fictional "Disney's first law: wishing will make it so."

We want happy-ever after endings like those in the Disney movies of our youth without making the tough, pragmatic choices our ancestors were forced to makein their more difficult times such as when booming immigration (albeit far lower than current rates, and legal, not illegal) was sharply reduced by Americans in a frontier-era 1918.

So, while the growth may be better planned and some bad development schemes may be turned down, the end result 20 or 30 years from now will still be more mountain valleys converted from wildlife habitat to development, more rural farmland converted to subdivisions, more people demanding water in a drought-parched Southwest, more sprawl, more cars plying already-crowded roads and the beauty of Southwest Colorado dimmed even more than it has already been dimmed the perspective of one who remembers a far less crowded time.

That's what happens when growth continues unabated and we all try to pretend, in the name of political correctness or whatever excuse, to ignore the fact that the emperor has no clothes.

Kathleene Parker

Los Alamos, N.M.

A time and place for secrecy

(Editors' note: The following letter was recently submitted regarding the editorial in the May 6 issue of the Telegraph.)

Dear Will,

I read a reference to your editorial about the "Law of the Secret Spot" in today's Idaho Mountain Express here in the Sun Valley area. I can think of one place in this state that the law must apply to. It is a very secret hot spring on federal land. I found out about it on a couple of web sites. It is not in any guide book (I have them all), and the Idaho Department of Water Resources doesn't have it on the map.

The first web site owner said to enter the name of his dog as a password to get directions. I didn't know his dog's name, but being a natural hot springs fanatic I had to know more. He had two photos of it, which I dragged off my web browser into a folder. The pictures were taken in flat light and could have been anywhere, but he wrote some clues as to where it was. I e-mailed him and told him the clues were too good, as he revealed the general area where it was located. He replied and said he would be surprised if I found it from his clues. Since then, he re-built his web site and removed all references to it. I did more searching and found the second web site.

The second web site had a dozen photos, taken in sunlight, showing the direction of tree shadows. They stated the date the photos were shot, and judging from the tent and warmly dressed person in the pictures, I guessed they were taken in the morning. Two of the photos showed horizons, with ridge lines and other background features. The web site even offered a feature where you could view high resolution images, which I did, and dragged them off my browser into the folder. I then e-mailed the site and told them that the photos were too detailed and one skilled in the art could figure out where the hot spring was located. They did not reply, but pulled the photos. They have since re-built their web site, which has a "private hot springs" area that requires a password. I wonder if they have re-published the photos in the private area. I wonder how many people they've told about it, if any. They were "sworn to secrecy" by the person that showed it to them. They also said on their web site that some people have been looking for it for eight years. I guess some people can't keep a secret.

After two years of searching I am almost ready to erase all the photos from my hard drive and burn the waterproofed printouts I made. It wasn't as easy as when I found the pot farm featured in the film "The Money Tree" (from one shot in the theatrical release), but I think I found the ridge line in one of the photos. There is a pattern of trees that is nearly identical. The only problem I had was too much snow and no snowshoes. Most of the area has melted and is dry. I'll know if I'm right the next time I hike there. I'll wait till the snow melts or bring snowshoes next time. There is "no trail" (a clue).

The reason this spot must remain "secret" is that the area it is in is already "protected." I'm sure that if the federal rangers find it they'll want to remove the plastic pipe and doughboy pool liner and return the area to a "natural" state. Also, I have been noticing these ugly "danger hot water" signs sprouting up around BLM hot springs in Nevada. It's a liability thing, I'm sure, but one must also consider, for example, that soaking is prohibited in the streams leading away from Terminal Geyser in Lassen National Park. We mustn't disturb the algae and bacteria that grow there.

The Law of the Secret Spot should not apply to places that need protection, but should apply, in rare circumstances such as this, to places that are in no danger of development. Since I found this area "all by myself" I owe nobody any oath of secrecy, but I might tell a few friends - some Idaho "old timers" that I know. I'll make them take an oath .

Sincerely, Arne P. Ryason

Hailey, Idaho

Get more for nothing

Dear editors:

What's up?

Everything, except your income! Petroleum-based energy products are up at an annualized rate of 82.5 percent in the first quarter of 2004. All energy products combined are up 38.6 percent for the same period. And that's on top of increases of 6.9 percent in 2003 and 10.7 percent in 2002. Transportation costs are up 14.9 percent this year, and food and medical expenses are up a total of 9.3 percent and 19.2 percent, respectively, since 2001. (U.S. Dept. of Labor CPI Summary Data).

We all know everything is becoming more expensive, but we don't know what, if anything, can be done about it. The cost of consumer items is out of our individual control, but the expense for many of these is controllable. You can't change the price of medical insurance, but you can adjust the coverage. You can't lower the price of your favorite foods, but you can switch brands. You can't lower the price of gas or 4

electricity, but you can change the way you use them. There are always ways to be more efficient. Normally there's a trade-off. That is less convenience, less quality, less quantity, less satisfaction less.

Wouldn't it be nice to discover something that we could change and the trade-off would be more? What if, in our homes, we could have more light, more warmth (when we want it), more coolness (when we want it), more cleanliness, more quiet and more longevity merely by changing the way we think? How would this be possible? Simply by changing the way we think about the design and construction of our homes.

There is one commodity that is with us everyday and everywhere and it all but begs to be used, and at no charge. This commodity is the sun. No one can charge us for its use (not yet anyway), and utilizing it has only the trade-off noted earlier more.

Through simple changes, we can leave much of the energy expense associated with our homes behind. Instead of thinking only in terms of R-values and U-values, we add terms such as thermal mass and direct gain and take a wholistic approach to the entire building process. By simply orienting the house, sizing the windows and changing materials, we permanently elevate our standard of living at no additional expense.

These benefits are magnified greatly on a community level. If, for example, this "more-for-nothing" approach had been taken by each residential permit applicant in Ouray and Montrose counties since January 2003, the energy savings would be equivalent to 10,000 barrels of oil per year, or 6 million pounds of coal. The yearly reduction in Co2 emissions from using less energy would be 9.5 million pounds from just the homes built in the last 16 months. So if each individual were to take advantage of the more-for-nothing approach, the benefits to the community would be staggering.

The starting point is education. With the help of the internet, you can research just about any topic. Another starting point could be to attend The Solar Energy Coalition (SEC) symposium on June 2 and listen to people who have been implementing these ideas for decades. There's no substitute for experience, and the combined experience for the SEC is admirable to say the least.

This symposium will be held on Wednesday, Jun 2, at 7 p.m. at the Uncompahgre Bed and Breakfast between Ridgway and Montrose on Highway 550, about 5.5 miles south of Wal-Mart.

Guest speakers will include Judy Fosdick, of Tierra Concrete Homes. Judy and her husband, Frank, have been designing and building high performance, concrete, passive solar homes for more than 20 years. Data from the National Renewable Energy Labs shows their designs are consistently using 75 percent less energy than comparable standard homes.

Another local industry expert, Leif Juell, of Alternative Power Enterprises, will discuss photovoltaic (solar electric) systems. Leif has more than 10 years in the field of designing and installing photovoltaics and will discuss the advantages of the latest systems.

Also speaking will be Jim Heneghan, of Alternative Power, and a mechanical engineer. Jim will talk about producing domestic hot water with solar power and using current heating systems as a mere back up to a primary solar heating system.

Maggie Remmington, of Pi`F1on Mortgages, will answer questions on energy-related financing programs and mortgages.

So drop by and see what's "Not Up!" Call (800) 373-9930 to reserve a seat. We hope to see you there.

Russ Harvey,

Solar Energy Coalition





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