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Letters – July 21, 2022

Locations: Letters, Opinion Published

Correction: Art Ackerman, 97, paid no amount of money for The Sopris Sun to shave 21 years off his age in the article “Party like it’s…” (July 14). We’ll chalk it up to a sudden bout of numerical dyslexia and wish him a wonderful birthday by all means.

Wild and scenic
I recently attended the Colorado River District’s State of the Rivers event in Carbondale. The evening’s presentations reminded me of the major water challenges we face in the West and just how special it is to live near the Crystal River — one of the state’s last undammed, free-flowing rivers.

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Our rivers are indeed at a dire point, as demand continues to increase while water supply keeps dropping. As someone who lives along the Crystal River and has spent years advocating for its protection, I was happy to see the Colorado River District acknowledge the community’s desire for protections on the Crystal by including a presentation on Wild and Scenic eligibility at their event last month.

As the pressure to develop every last drop of water keeps increasing, it’s even more important now that we set protections in place for something as rare as the free-flowing Crystal River. A Wild and Scenic designation for the Crystal is the only way to truly ensure that this remarkable river remains the way it is, and to forever remove the threat of dams or out-of-basin diversions. 

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We can do this at the same time we protect in-basin water rights and the augmentation needs of the Valley.

Let’s come together and protect this treasured river in our backyard by advocating for a Wild and Scenic designation!

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Chuck Ogilby, Avalanche Ranch

Elopement
As a parent of an individual with autism, my biggest fear is that my son will wander from a safe environment and away from his caregiver. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a minimum of one in 44 children and one in 88 adults have autism nationally. It is important to create awareness of the unique safety concerns for our residents and visitors with autism. Why? Wandering or leaving a safe environment (elopement) is not uncommon for those with autism or other intellectual disabilities. In fact: 

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– People with autism are three times more likely to die from injury than a neurotypical peer. For individuals under age 15, it is 40 times more likely. 

– When a person with ASD wanders, nearly half of all fatalities occur in under one hour. 

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– 20% of wandering/elopements occur from the place of residence. Risk is higher when traveling, visiting relatives, when engaged in outdoor recreation or in a vehicle.

– 40% of wandering/elopements take place when transitioning activities or locations.

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– Drowning is the leading cause of premature death in autism; 71% of all deaths for children with ASD between 2011 and 2017 were accidental drownings. They are 160 times more likely to drown than non-disabled peers and 76% occur in natural bodies of water.

As a parent of a person with autism, these statistics are terrifying. Virtually all autism parents have had experiences when their child got away, be it for a moment or for several hours. Being aware of this safety concern is of utmost importance in our mountainous community. If you encounter a person with autism or an intellectual disability who has become separated from their caregiver, give this person space, use simple sentences with a kind voice, avoid quick movements and contact local law enforcement.

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Ascendigo Autism Services has developed training materials to educate and assist first responders in the case that a person with autism wanders from a safe environment, and I am immensely grateful that our local law enforcement has these resources. Ascendigo is also working on materials that will help caregivers and school personnel implement safety measures that can decrease the likelihood of wandering from safe environments. 

To receive these training materials for your family or your group, or to get more information, I encourage you to contact Mathew McCabe (mmccabe@ascendigo.org). Thank you to the Roaring Fork Valley community for its commitment to keeping our children safe. 

Kim Birch, Glenwood Springs

Agro-industry and medical news
It is said that in every gray cloud there is a silver lining. There is bright agro-industry and medical industry news to take advantage of. This past “Bastille Day”, July 14, the U.S. The Treasury Department announced there are no bruising U.S. sanction obstacles for American agricultural and medical trade with Russia. (1)

This news applies to the production, manufacturing, sale, or transport of such things as fertilizers, agricultural equipment, replacement parts, software updates, crop seeds, live animals, agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices and COVID-19 matters. 

The U.S. supports the United Nations to get Russian and Ukrainian grain exports to world markets. However, the icing on the cake for the American rich, especially beluga caviar connoisseurs, is that Russian fish, seafood and preparations can be imported by them into other countries but not the U.S. 

(1) “Treasury Releases Fact Sheet on Food and Fertilizer-Related Authorizations Under Russia Sanctions; Expands General License Authorizing Agricultural Transactions”, Press Release, Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Treasury, July 14, 2022.

Best wishes,
Emzy Veazy III, Aspen

A Threat to Colorado
The lifeblood of the American Southwest is the Colorado River. It supplies 40 million people with irrigation, drinking water, hydropower and recreation. 

This vital artery is threatened by a plan by Houston-based Drexel Hamilton Infrastructure Partners and Rio Grande Pacific Corp. to ship five billion gallons per year of extremely viscous crude oil by rail from the Uintah Basin in northeast Utah to the Union Pacific line in Grand Junction, along the Colorado River through Glenwood Springs and Glenwood Canyon, and on to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

This stuff is so thick it has to be transported in heated rail cars that can keep the material above 100 degrees Fahrenheit or it will congeal into a solid mass. It’s even nastier than the Alberta tar sands which, unfortunately, can be transported through pipelines. 

Can you imagine what a carload of this gunk would do to the mighty Colorado if it spilled into the river? Glenwood Canyon has a history of wildfires and resultant mudslides. A simple derailment could turn into a major disaster.

Environmental groups and governments like Eagle County have opposed this plan and filed lawsuits, but recently the Forest Service approved it despite a memo from the heads of the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service to “address the climate crisis.” How is adding the Uintah Basin crude to the fossil fuel mix going to do that? Analysts say it’ll increase our national greenhouse gas emissions by 1%.

A few years ago, Ursa Resources, the developer of the Battlement Mesa gas well pads, wanted to drill an injection well 50 feet from the Colorado River and the PUD’s fresh drinking water supply. Injection wells drive wastewater, brine and chemicals into geologic formations below.

Don’t tell me these corporations are patriotically seeking to achieve energy independence for America. We’ve been a fossil fuel exporter since 2011. Like most enterprises in this capitalist society, they’re out for the almighty buck and if 40 million people suffer the consequences, that’s collateral damage.

Those who oppose the rail line can file another lawsuit and there are still suits pending in Utah and Washington. What you can do is contact the Forest Service and express your outrage at their decision on the Uintah Basin rail line.

Fred Malo Jr., Carbondale

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