We all share a responsibility to care for our nest. The end of this decade leaves me pondering the caretaking responsibilities I share with you in our continued effort to craft an innovative mountain community.
Anyone who might share a 46-year-residency in the Fraser Valley will understand a longing for the days when 20 votes could win a Fraser town election and Hideaway (Winter) Park was an unincorporated collection of a few ski lodges and a few more bars.
Knowing eating made skiing more pleasurable and desiring to help my neighbors, I became involved in public service. First it was running the Fraser Day Care (one former student is now a grandfather) followed by working as political editor of the Winter Park Manifest. A warm secure nest is most important of all, so my first public service role was helping to found the Grand County Housing Authority and serving on its first board. We built two senior citizen complexes in Granby and Kremmling.
A warm nest is the basis of survival in our arctic clime. The main cause of the ever-present housing challenge is low wages not covering the cost of housing. Many community members continue to work on ways to bring better paying jobs to the county.
Understanding standing on the sidelines offering unsolicited reviews of local politics showed a lower level of commitment, I ran for and the voters were kind enough to plant me on the Fraser Town Board in 2014. My goal for the last two years of my service is to make our town more economically secure. We need to make it easier to drive from one side of town to the other without getting on an often-gridlocked US 40. Our rail line can offer a better way to reach Denver and to visit our neighbors to the west.
To improve the sustainability of our water and sewer service, and to meet these transportation challenges, we need to increase our town mill levy. Our dependence on sales tax to support Fraser services is not healthy; we must establish a better level of consistent town income.
I gleaned a deeper level of understanding of our county during my unsuccessful run for County Commissioner in 2016. Water is by far our main challenge in a county whose boundaries largely are defined by the headwaters of a relatively small river called upon to serve between 40 and 50 million people.
Talented locals like my dear friend Kirk Klancke have won hard fought reparations for recently added east slope diversions. I serve as President of the recently founded Upper Colorado Watershed Group. I believe our mission is to examine current and future threats to our watershed to ensure our waterways can support the true valley natives – our waterborne fishy neighbors.
Allow me to offer a few examples of the peril our watershed faces. The North Fork of the Colorado is depositing a rapidly growing silt delta, filling Shadow Mountain Reservoir and carrying fine sediment to cloud Grand Lake. This material feeds water weeds which already choke shore lines. The delta has buried Pine Beach.
There are 300 miles of impaired waterways in our county. Donations to UCRWG will help us identify grant sources to help these streams. Economic opportunities will be offered by allocating these funds to the rapidly growing environmental services industry in Grand County.
Our economy depends on tourism. To diversify amenities available on the Fraser Valley Fun Ticket I continue my involvement in the group I helped found in the late 90’s, the Grand Huts Association. We continue to pursue a new hut site about 2 miles north of the Devil’s Thumb Park trailhead. The Broome Hut on Berthoud is the most visited Colorado Hut. GHA depends on continued help from the community.
I am only one player on an amazing team of community volunteers in our wonderful county. Thanks to all of you, I remain certain we will rise to the challenges of the all but certain continued growth of our community. We share the responsibility of ensuring this growth does not come with the loss of what brought us here in the first place.