Category Archives: Environment

Your national park – access by smartphone only?

May 8, 2017

 

By Bob Cox

Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.

Watch out folks! The next step for some of the feel-gooders is going to be completely banning all of us from personally visiting some of those special places. Why? Because we contribute to sound pollution.

When I wrote Fishing Close to the Bank, I dedicated one chapter to places that I named based on a borrowed term from Diana Gabaldon’s book, The Scottish Prisoner. Those places are called “Fridstools.” They are places where one can just get away and absorb the surroundings or seek sanctuary from what is going on in the world around us.

So, I truly appreciate the solitude that is available in places like the national parks and mountain streams, but the “protectors” are may be going too far.

Recently, some researchers, paid for under the guise of being National Park Service employees, conducted a study that they say determined that human-made sound is drowning out nature.

Now, if it were practical that I could get the government to allow only me to enjoy those special places, maybe I would go along, but these so-called researchers may have an agenda that will deny us all. They have already made moves to keep all but a select few out of public lands. They tell us where we are allowed to go and when we are allowed to go there. They give priority to one group over others all the time and this study could make it worse.

I don’t doubt that most of their findings are correct. They ran around the country planting microphones and recording devices at almost 500 sites around the nation, including 23 in Colorado. They recorded a total of 1.5 million hours of the sounds of nature and found out that “human caused” sounds are twice as high as natural sounds at well over half of the sites.

You have to read between the lines a little to see what is coming. A Denver Post article quoted Rachel Buxton, a CSU post-doctorial scientist as saying that, “… noise pollution is disrupting wildlife ad scaring away animals, INCLUDING ENDANGERED SPECIES.” (emphasis added). I will leave it up to you to analyze that statement, but allow me to add a comment about Rachel Buxton: She is a “conservation biologist” that is an outspoken opponent of oil and gas exploration, especially fracking. She has suggested that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally should be outlawed because it has “inundated” a prairie dog colony with noise pollution, and she openly admits that public land visitors are polluting the very thing they are going to enjoy – surprise, surprise. Incidentally, when the Post interviewed Buxton, they had to do so by telephone. She was in India, a country with more than 1.3 billion people. She must like being around all that noise at least sometimes.

You may think I am crazy, but I see these people as proposing to replace all those recording devices with video cameras and microphones so you can access them through you smart phone and enjoy the experience without actually being there. That way us nasty humans will no longer be part of the wilderness experience. We can stay home and pollute only our immediate surrounding and the rest of the world will remain pristine in the true meaning of pristine. If you do think I am crazy, read this quote from that Denver Post article:

Federal land managers are considering installation of sound walls around industrial sites, mandatory shuttle buses to cut car traffic, and new road surfacing designed to absorb noise from vehicle engines and tires. Flight paths could be shifted to route planes and choppers over already-noisy roadways.

Remember, I only send out these missives via email to those who have asked for them. I do not share your email addresses with anyone and I use the Reagan email precisely because they don’t share or sell the addresses either. If you are getting this because someone forwarded it to you and you don’t want it, tell him or her not to forward any more. On the other hand, if you received a copy and would like to see more of my ranting, simply drop me a line at coxnotes@Reagan.com I will put you on my exclusive, but growing list.

 

Bob

 

© Robert R. Cox 2017

 

Time to give Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission the responsibility they should have had in the first place

March 27, 2017

By Bob Cox

Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.

As a caucus member of the Colorado Sportsmen’s Roundtable, I sat through an afternoon of information sharing at our session in Glenwood Springs last Saturday.

Once again, I have to qualify what I am about to say and explain what may look like a switch in position on my part because I was so adamantly opposed to the merger of the Colorado State Parks and the Division of Wildlife. I fully understood why that merger was deemed necessary, but that did not make me like it any better. I know there is still some confusion, but one thing that is important is that, in spite of the merger, the funding for parks and wildlife is separate – they do not work under a combined budget.

What they do work under is what is called an enterprise agency. In other words, they exist on funding from users. The problem is that Colorado Parks and Wildlife, as it is now known, does not under the current system have the ability to set fees. That has, and could continue to be a problem because, as it stands now, when you pay for your hunting licenses and parks passes the money is then allocated through the budget process by legislation, as are the fees for those licenses and passes.

In the past, the representatives from the agencies would go before the legislature asking for license fee increases and the legislators, as they often do, have visions of being beat over the head with a ballot box so they are reluctant to vote for the increase. That has created a problem because, rather than increase fees a little each year the agency now finds itself in a crunch where more services are being demanded with less revenue because there has not been an increase in license fees since 2005 and in parks passes since 2010. Meanwhile, spending power has decreased by an estimated 22 percent. Now the sportsmen and women of this state are faced with large increases all at one time.

We need to give the CPW commissioners the power to raise fees in a very regulated manner and take the politics out as much as possible. Either today, or in the next few days a bill, now called the CPW Financial Sustainability Bill, will be introduced into the House. This bill, in a nutshell, gives the Commission limited authority to set parks, hunting, fishing and aquatic nuisance sticker fees under the following guidelines:

Individual park fees would be capped at no more than 50 percent.

Application fees would be capped at $20 and hunting and fishing licenses capped at no more than 50 percent increase.

Senior fishing licenses would be set at 1/2 the price of resident prices.

ANS stickers fees will also be capped.

And most important is that the bill will allow future fee changes (under the caps) to be based on the Consumer Price Index. This is the guideline used for several years for non-resident fees and it has worked relatively well.

I believe that it is important that us hunters, anglers general outdoors enthusiasts support this bill, and there are a few people that need to know now that we support it:

First of all, let Marc Catlin know how we feel. He probably assumes he knows, but give him some support so he can tell his new friends in the House.

The bill will begin its travels in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee. Jeni James Arndt (D) Dist. 53 is the chair of that committee – send her an email – let her know. jeni.arndt.house@state.co.us.

The vice chair is Diane Mitsch Bush (D) Dist. 26. She needs to know too:

diane.mitschbush.house@state.co.us

The Minority Caucus chair is Yeulin Willett (R) Delta and Mesa Counties. Willett needs to be able to stand up for the minority and tell them how involved the sportsmen are in this process. yeulin.willett.house@state.co.us.

I happen to like Bob Broscheid, who is the Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. I think he has been up front and honest with us, and that he has a very difficult position, but one that he is very qualified. He has certainly been hampered by the merger and by other things that seem to have taken center stage, but this financial sustainability is important and we need to get it right. For my part, I think this is the right bill. I think it has been too long coming, but must get passed now. Otherwise, we will only dig a deeper hole. Broscheid said something Saturday that scares my hunting boots off. He said, “If we don’t pay attention now, the sportsmen and women of this state risk becoming inconsequential.”

This bill may not be perfect and it may seem that we are putting too much trust in the members of the CPW Commission, but when it comes down to it, those commissioners probably understand the plight of those of us who think like I do much more than the typical politician.

If you have an uncontrolled desire to contact all of the House Ag Committee, just go to the Colorado House website. There you can find the necessary information to call or email each and every one of them.

Another good source of information is Doug Vilsack, the DNR Legislative Liaison: (720)456-8596 or douglas.vilsack@state.co.us 

Remember, I only send out these missives via email to those who have asked for them. I do not share your email addresses with anyone and I use the Reagan email precisely because they don’t share or sell the addresses either. If you are getting this because someone forwarded it to you and you don’t want it, tell him or her not to forward any more. On the other hand, if you received a copy and would like to see more of my ranting, simply drop me a line at coxnotes@Reagan.com I will put you on my exclusive, but growing list.

 

Bob

 

© Robert R. Cox 2017

 

 

Are the ‘supporters’ really supporting?

February 27, 2017

 

By Bob Cox

Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.

I have held back writing about the following topic for some time now. I was hoping to be successful in separating the fact from the fiction and in this case it has been difficult.

First, let me be clear that I personally think that oil and gas pipelines make perfect sense. I know first hand where several pipelines cross Colorado and I can see that the overall impact is negligible. In most cases, where the pipelines have been in place for a few years, there is little, in any, sign that a pipeline exists, save the yellow markers that warn future excavations.

So, when I learned of the problems being encountered to finish the Dakota Access Pipeline, my first thoughts were in complete support of the project, but it did not surprise me in the least that there were organized protests.

I also happen to believe that protests are appropriate when a person or group of people desire to make a point. The problem is that today’s protests are much more than that. They become an excuse for untold numbers of “followers” and “supporters” that largely have no idea who they are following or what they are really supporting to show up hoping to get their mugs on television or in the newspapers

had no problem with President Trump taking steps to make it possible to complete this pipeline.

As I said before, I had a hard time determining what the facts really are in this case. The confrontations with law enforcement and government officials were largely over-reported, while the underlying facts were brushed over.

Last November a Denver woman, Red Fawn Fallis, was arrested at one of the protest sites for allegedly trying to kill a Pennington County, South Dakota deputy. The news about the protests continually bring that arrest back up, often without noting the date or the exact nature of the arrest and sometimes even making it sound like a new case, but always proclaiming the woman’s innocence. This is just one example of one-sided news coverage.

There are estimates that claim that about 10,000 people joined the campsites that were established near the Standing Rock Sioux property. I say “near” because the pipeline did not actually cross the Standing Rock Reservation. It did cross 1,094 feet of land owned by the federal government. That’s right; of the 1,200 miles of pipeline, we are talking about 1,094 feet. And few news reports mention the fact that the area already contains eight other pipelines and one high-voltage electric transmission line. One of those pipelines is a dual 42-inch line put into service in 1982.

I could go on and on about the logic of completing the pipeline, but that is not really my point. I think the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been dealt a raw deal; not by the government or the Energy Transfer Partners, but by those thousands of people who showed up and then left all their garbage behind. They claimed to be all so worried about the environmental impact of a thousand feet of pipeline and then left enough garbage, human waste and even abandoned dogs behind without considering in the least what would happen when the ground thawed, the rains came and the entire mess could be washed into the surrounding ground and even into the Missouri river.

For about one year these outsiders flocked into the “spiritual camps” to create huge mounds of trash and when they were told to leave, they left. The news often said that the “protesters were cleaning up the area in preparation of being forced to leave.” That statement is not true and I have to empathize with people like Dotty Agard of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe as she stood in front of cameras and explained that it was her tribe and the state that would be cleaning up the mess.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum said the state would be seeking contractors and who would pay the contractors for the cleanup would be determined later. He said he did not want to stand around and argue while the waste and debris floated down the Missouri River. That all boils down to the fact that those so-called supporters are nothing but phonies and have done a great disservice to the people of the Standing Sioux Tribe, the people of North Dakota and the people of the United States in general. I will believe they are serious when they show up with the estimated 2,500 pickup trucks needed to clean up their crap.

Back to the logic of the pipeline for a few thoughts: According to what I have weeded through and believe to be factual, the entire length of the DAP is going to be underground. It does not cross reservation land and will replace between 500 and 700 railcars and another 250 trucks that would be needed to transport the oil. Logic tells me that it is much more likely that there will be an oil spill as a result of a rail or truck accident than it is likely that the pipeline will burst, but I will leave my opinion there and let you arrive at your own.

Remember, I only send out these missives by email to those who have asked for them. I do not share your email addresses with anyone and I use the Reagan email precisely because they don’t share or sell the addresses either. If you are getting this because someone forwarded it to you and you don’t want it, tell him or her not to forward any more. On the other hand, if you received a copy and would like to see more of my ranting, simply drop me a line at coxnotes@Reagan.com I will put you on my exclusive, but growing list.

 

Bob

© Robert R. Cox 2017