Saturday, August 19, 2017
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Tweaked

When it turns to the perfect summer days and there is office work to be done and the office is hot and outside is perfect, I get a little tweaked. My attitude sours a tad. So with that chip on my shoulder, here are a few things that are tweaking me.

Arch Coal wants to mine more coal over in the North Fork on the other side of Kebler Pass. It will impact the Sunset Roadless Area and that could be reason enough to keep that 19 million tons of coal in the ground. But the thing that really tweaks me about the whole situation is that if the U.S. government allows that mining beneath public lands. Arch wants to pay less in royalty payments than is required. In fact, the company wants a retroactive reduction in royalty payments going back to 2015. It is using public land to make money. It wants to stop paying 8 percent in royalty and go to 5 percent—and make it retroactive two years. That will lessen money earmarked to the town and the school district. That tweaks me.

Donald’s boorishness tweaks me.

So does Hillary Clinton in the spotlight right now.

And Jeff Sessions wanting to throw everyone in jail and throw away the key.

The CB town council upping their counterparts in Mt. Crested Butte by a grand with their donation to the CB Conservation Corps to crow about it on the playground sort of tweaked me even though I think it was supposed to be sort of a good natured joke.

Growth does not bother me. All the construction happening at once tweaks me a bit. Construction fences everywhere. Excavators digging everywhere. The beep, beep, beep permeating the cool mountain air. I assume all that activity will result in improvements to make all our lives better—or is it just the beginning of the new “construction season” that comes with constant progress?

It is less of a tweak and perhaps more impatience as I see the people starting to roll in for summer recreation season. The Gunnison County commissioners have taken their time in inviting Dave Ochs and the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association’s Crested Butte Conservation Corps to give a presentation and ask for funding to support the backcountry stewardship group. The Conservation Corps, Mountain Manners and Peak Protector programs are ready to deal with what everyone knows is a problem—a big problem. Their teams will be out in the backcountry with the goal to educate people about the need to protect the lands we all love. It isn’t talking about forming more groups and holding more meetings; it is people out on the ground engaging locals and visitors and reminding them about proper etiquette and well, manners, along with actual physical maintenance of the land and trails. I have always appreciated action instead of more and more talk.

Action takes money and the Conservation Corps has so far been successful raising funds. Mountain Manners and Peak Protectors spearheaded by Sue Wallace is getting there. But it says something that the county has yet to throw in monetary support. Now, I have been assured that Dave and the group will get their chance to be in front of the commissioners in the next couple of weeks and the commissioners are ready to listen. BOCC chair Phil Chamberland said, “I support the concept and work they are trying to do.” The BOCC also understands the need to develop long-term funding which is essential and does take planning. Commissioner John Messner told me Tuesday, “We also will be looking to develop permanent funding in the future for the STOR [Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation] committee, which most likely will look to develop contracts for service with organizations like CBMBA to do trail maintenance.” That is a thoughtful thing to consider. So while this lag is not a big tweak and it sounds like they will be on board—I’m impatient when seeing the stream of people start to rise.

My advice if they ask (and they won’t) is to make sure the CBCC is fully funded (and it is already really close) and help out it’s simpatico group that came out of the county OVPP process—Mountain Manners and Peak Protectors—which are seeking funding for similar purposes and appear in a bit more need.

Am I starting to sound like a grumpy old man or what? So let me end on a more positive note. The fact this community and all its elected representatives across the board understand the need to actively protect its backcountry asset is important and positive. We can no longer keep inviting people to share our special places without being prepared to mitigate the impacts. Responsible stewardship is becoming as important as anything. I’ll give great kudos to the commissioners if they figure out the long-term funding solution for such a task.

The fact that people are aware of a coal company’s cheap desire to shortchange the public is a positive. HCCA, the town of Crested Butte, and former U.S. senator Tim Wirth, whose soul resides in Crested Butte, have all made some waves over the issue.

The recent Crested Butte Community School high school graduation was filled with grateful young adults who understand the privilege of growing up in a small mountain village. They understand it is special—and it is.

The summer days at 9,000 feet are hitting the sweet spot and they don’t last long. June is a special time. I’ve said every one of these days is worth five really good days almost anywhere else in the world. We are lucky.

Now if I can just get out of the office…

-Mark Reaman

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