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Writers on the Range: The ‘energy gap’ nobody wants to tussle with

Many Western states have declared they will achieve all-renewable electrical goals in just two decades. Call me naïve, but haven’t energy experts predicted that wind, sun, and other alternative energy sources aren’t up to the job? 

Alice Jackson, former CEO of Xcel energy’s Colorado operation, was blunt at a renewable-energy conference in February 2020: “We can reliably run our grid with up to 70% renewables. Add batteries to the mix and that number goes up to just 72%.” 
Grid experts now say that her number is 80%, but still — how will that utility and others produce that missing power? 
Bill Gates and a raft of other entrepreneurs see an answer in small, modular nuclear reactors, pointing to the small nuclear engines that have safely run America’s nuclear submarines for decades.
Here’s what we know about these efficient reactors: They’re built-in factories, and, once in operation, they’re cheap to keep going. Each module is typically 50 megawatts, self-contained, and installed underground after being transported to its site. The modular design means that, when more power is needed, another reactor can be slotted in. 
Breakthrough features include safety valves that automatically send coolant to the reactor if heat spikes. This feature alone could have eliminated disasters like Fukushima or Chernobyl, where water pumps failed and cores started melting down. 
If small nuclear modules don’t fill the renewables gap, where else to find the “firm power” that Jackson says is needed? The Sierra Club calls on pumped hydro and geothermal as sources of reliable electricity you can just flip on when renewables slow down. Yet, the best geothermal spots have been taken, and pumped hydro has both geographic limits and environmental resistance.
Another proposal is linking grids across the country for greater efficiency. The idea is that wind blowing in Texas could be tapped after the sun goes down on California’s solar farms. This holds incremental promise but progress has been routinely blocked by conservative lawmakers.
There’s also the cost argument — that renewables are cheaper. In a fossil-fuel-dominated grid, that’s true. However, MIT points out that, as renewables dominate the grid, on-demand forms of power rise in value. 
The extreme danger to the grid is the dreaded “dunkelflaute,” a German word for cloudy, windless weather that slashes solar- and wind-power generation for weeks. 
So, the problem remains: We need reliable power at the right times, which are usually from 5-8 p.m. That’s when people come home and fire up their appliances. 

The increasing demand for electricity only adds to the problem: A 2020 Washington Post article predicted that electrification of the economy by 2050 would result in a usage bump of 38%, mostly from vehicles. Consider Ford’s all-electric F150 Lightning, cousin to the bestselling gasoline F150. The $39,000 entry-level truck was designed to replace gasoline generators at job sites, meaning vehicle recharge happens when workers go home, just as renewables flag. 

This calls into question what many experts hope car batteries can provide — doing double duty by furnishing peak power for homes at night.

Longer-lasting storage batteries have long been touted as a savior, though Tara Righetti, co-director of the Nuclear Energy Research Center at the University of Wyoming, has reservations. “There are high hopes that better batteries will be developed. But, in terms of what is technically accessible right now? I think nuclear provides an appealing option.” 

Meanwhile, small nuclear reactors are underway, with Bill Gates’ TerraPower building a sodium-cooled fast reactor in the coal town of Kemmerer, Wyoming. One 345-megawatt reactor, which generates enough electricity for 400,000 homes, will be paired with a molten-salt, heat-storage facility. Think of it as a constantly recharging battery in the form of stored heat. In the evening, as renewable power flags, it would pump out 500 megawatts of power for up to 5 hours. 

These reactors also tackle the little-known problem of cold-starting the electrical grid after an outage. In 2003, suffering a blackout, the Eastern grid could not have restarted with renewables alone.

However we choose to close the energy gap, there’s no time to lose. Wild temperature swings have grid operators increasingly nervous. This summer, California came close to rolling blackouts, and temperatures in the West broke record after record. As our climate becomes more erratic, reliable electricity is becoming a matter of life and death.

Dave Marston is the publisher of Writers on the Range, writersontherange.org, an independent nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. He lives in Colorado.

DiSalvo: A unique legacy comes to an end

I’d like to take this final opportunity to address the community as your sheriff. 

I am fortunate to have been part of an amazing — and sometimes strange — legacy that began with a Gonzo journalist in the early ’70s and lived for over 50 years. I worked with Sheriff Kienast and his successor, Sheriff Braudis, and occasionally even sought advice from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. They all achieved legendary status in this valley, and each continued to grow and improve the organization and brought prominence to our community on many levels. 

For the first time in nearly 50 years, the new sheriff will not have a direct link to the past from its inception. However, your Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office has a strong history of high-level service to the citizens, and that should not change. The foundation of community policing started right here, in Pitkin County, via my visionary predecessors, and it continues today.

The team the new sheriff is inheriting is unified, and they are dedicated to the exceptional service provided to this community for the past five decades. The legacy that made the office of sheriff unique has come to an end. Sheriff Braudis and I discussed this at length in the year prior to his passing.  I wish the new sheriff the best in creating a new legacy.

The sheriff relies heavily on his entire staff, especially the command staff. It is the command staff who truly is the foundation of my success and the success of this office. The current team we’ve assembled is strong, cohesive, and is dedicated to the traditional high level of service that this community expects. This command staff consists of some of the most talented public-safety professionals in the state. 

I’d like to publicly recognize my staff who have received statewide, national, and even global recognition for their work: In 2017, Undersheriff Alex Burchetta was named “one of the 40 best and brightest law-enforcement professionals in the world under the age of 40” by The International Association of Police Chiefs. 

Operations Commander Parker Lathrop is an expert in department operations and wildland fires. Communications Commander Brett Loeb was manager in 2020 when we were named Colorado Center of the Year, the communications/911 center that exemplified outstanding professionalism, leadership, and innovation to the community it serves, as well as to its region and state. 

Emergency Manager Valerie MacDonald was awarded Emergency Manager of the Year for the 10-county Northwest Region in 2022 and keeps our community prepared for any emergency. 

Administrative Commander Jill Ashey manages the entire office as well as a very busy civil division. She is the glue that holds our organization together.

I’d also like to thank jail commander Kim Vallario, whose last day of service was Thursday, Jan. 5. She managed a jail in need of repairs and who had many solutions for the facility — many of which may come to fruition in the upcoming years.

The remainder of the staff are dedicated, well-trained, and selfless in their duties. This team will continue the tradition of high-quality service, and I assure you that the transition by the current team to the new sheriff will not affect service to the public.

I have lived in Pitkin County for 42 years and have served as a peace officer for 37 of those years. I would have liked to have continued as your sheriff, as I feel there is still work to be done and exciting new ideas to implement. However, that work is now in the hands of the new sheriff. I look forward to seeing how these issues play out over the next four years.

Lastly, I owe almost everything I am to my mentors, my fellow deputies (past and present), my family, and my friends — especially Sheriff Braudis, who influenced my career and me more than any other person in my life.

I’ve had incredible experiences and have met and learned from incredible people. When I started my “job” in 1985, I had no idea it would turn into a life-changing career. I am proud of my work and accomplishments over the past 12 years. Mostly, I’m grateful to this community for giving me the life and opportunities I never imagined. 

Contrary to campaign misinformation, Marcy and I will continue to live in Aspen. We have an abundance of good friends and family here who cannot be replaced. Aspen is our home, and Marcy still loves going to her salon every day. I look forward to my next chapter, and I plan to keep working, while pursuing some exciting prospects. I also plan to continue my annual golf fundraiser in June and will continue to support local non-profits. This is a special community, and supporting our non-profits is one small way that I can give back for having been given so much. It truly has been my honor serving this community, and it was an unforgettable run. 

With all my respect and gratitude,

Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

Joe DiSalvo’s 12-year run as sheriff ends Tuesday, Jan. 10, when Michael Buglione, who prevailed in the November election, is sworn in.

Schwartz: Affordable-housing solutions take every stakeholder

If the greater Roaring Fork Valley wants to make a significant impact on our affordable-housing crisis, it will take an unwavering commitment from every stakeholder — local governments, citizens, volunteers, businesses, and our philanthropic community.

The 2019 Regional Housing Study estimated that 4,000 additional homes are needed to meet the housing needs of the local workforce, which is why Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley is now committed to building affordable housing at scale. We’re a non-profit with a small construction company that is in the business of stabilizing families. In our experience, that starts with building a “forever home” in the communities where our families live and work.

What used to be our one-home-at-a-time-built-with-volunteers approach simply wasn’t adequate to catch up with the current demand for affordable housing, let alone future needs.

You don’t have to spend much time on social media to see the impacts of the housing crunch that is causing such desperation for local working families. Roaring Fork Swap routinely has pleas from anxious families looking for anything affordable within a 50-mile radius, so they can remain in the valley. Sadly, but true, the reactionary emojis are usually laughing faces and comments like “you must be kidding” or “you might as well ask for a unicorn while you’re at it.”

Local Businesses

There is no doubt that local businesses that depend on a local workforce to keep their doors open have a big part to play in affordable housing, but it’s not their problem to solve alone.

There are certain businesses in the valley with the capacity to invest in motels, build multiple units, and provide employee housing at scale. Those businesses with that capacity to do so, we encourage them to step up, and many already are.

We also need to provide access to affordable housing for small businesses, non-profits, and vital institutions, such as our schools and hospitals, for their workforce. For business owners who can’t contribute on a large financial scale, being active in shaping local housing policy-making is equally important. What this looks like is: showing up to advocate at city and county meetings when affordable housing is on the table; being actively involved in the proposed solutions to affordable housing; and speaking up when those solutions aren’t adequate. Change happens with momentum and momentum happens when people are inspired to action. What will it take to inspire us to take action?


The connection of businesses and citizens to the governmental process cannot be emphasized enough. Government needs to facilitate the development of affordable homes. When projects are approved that provide housing that is only (or mostly) attainable by second-home owners, it only increases the workforce needs and exacerbates the housing problem. This is where businesses and citizens need to speak up. Our local governments need to balance future housing development in order to protect the culture, viability, and fabric of our communities while continuing to power the resort engine.

Government must thread the needle between free-market home prices and what is truly affordable for a service-industry-driven workforce. We can do this by improving the efficiency of approval processes, creating incentives for businesses to invest in affordable housing, and insisting that our visitors help pay the way without further burdening our business owners or putting the burden on the backs of homeowners.

The West Mountain Regional Housing Coalition (WMRHousing.org) is paving the way to identifying smart housing investments and potential solutions, and they are bringing an important regional approach to the table. When we work together across multiple counties, we can level the regulatory playing field and collectively solve the housing crisis.


Even with an involved business community and full collaboration from governmental agencies, affordable housing requires significant subsidies. Working hand in hand with our philanthropic community, we can identify opportunities for donors to step forward to help tackle the housing problem, which is foundational to every other aspect of our community.

Generous philanthropic dollars have historically supported important arts and youth organizations in our valley. It is gratifying that housing is now becoming top of mind for donors, who recognize that there is a direct correlation between affordable housing as the underpinning to most things we consider essential in our communities. Through their giving, our local philanthropic community has the power to change our entire ecosystem.


Cooperating to achieve our goals of safe and affordable housing for all means making our voices heard and standing up for the actions that help us to succeed. It means volunteering for affordable-housing projects that need to get across the finish line. It means packing a city council room to speak up on policies that matter. It means writing letters to the editor to voice our ideas and concerns when appearing in public isn’t possible. It also means recognizing that affordable housing “for all” doesn’t mean only our young working families. Our values must include diversity in every arena, including age, race, and income. When the conversation veers toward “retirees are part of the problem,” we have to remind critics that those same retirees are long-standing community members who paid it forward by teaching our children how to read. Our choices need not be binary: By working together, we can preserve and expand the essential fabric of our communities.

In the coming months, there will be many opportunities to better understand and support affordable housing in our region. Our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate will be keeping you posted on how you can be involved. In the meantime, share your thoughts and I sincerely appreciate your willingness to engage with us on solving this critical issue.

Gail Schwartz is the president of Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley. As a former Colorado state senator, business owner, and community planner, she has a unique understanding of the affordable-housing crisis on the Western Slope and in the greater Roaring Fork Valley and is committed to being part of the solution. gails@habitatroaringfork.org.

Gufstafson: True to my words

Snowmass Village is part of the very fabric of who I am. Born and raised here, I have spent my life observing, listening to, and writing about all things Snowmass. And, it’s not hyperbolic; my genuine wish for Snowmass Village is, and always has been, that we remain aggressively aware of our priceless natural connections, of our unique character, and that we respect the magnitude of our human impact on this valley. And, that we do it together. 

If you have read stories preserved in The Story of Snowmass (Our history book that I helped to co-create) or any of the years of columns I have penned in the Snowmass Sun, then you may have some idea of where I stand on many Snowmass Village issues. My beliefs and values have held fast. If it’s worth saying, it has probably been said.

And, in my own written words over the past seven years, I submit from the Snowmass Sun:

“In the midst of change, these grand vistas hold fast: Mt Daly, shrouded in mist on a bluebird day or backlit by an intense gradient of hot pink and burgundy hues, the early morning blue-gray shadows sculpting the landscape across a crystalline carpet of fresh white snow, and the unparalleled panorama of peaks that swaddle our valley.

So many of us live for that beauty.”

Think big, stay small

Feb. 17, 2021


“For many of us, our immediate natural connections are the very reason to forge ahead and work way too much. That work-life imbalance has always been offset here by wide-open spaces and exceptional recreation opportunities.”

Tectonic shifts

May 2020


“For me, the questions remain: Are we staying in concert with our original vision, our own mission statement? Cautiously eyeing our roots as we look forward, I hope we will remain aware of the scale and character of our small village.”

Back and forth

Dec. 19, 2018


“We ought to continue fostering an authentic small-town atmosphere of boutique businesses and local restaurants rather than adding more glamorous offerings for an indulgent luxury lifestyle.”

Tourism’s footprints

March 16, 2022


“Aspen was born in the age of mining, while Snowmass Village has the raw roots of a ranching community.”

Rodeo our timeless western tradition

June 23, 2021


“History, coupled with innovation, determines the new paths on which we will someday find ourselves.”

It’s OK to reinvent the wheel

Sept. 19, 2017


“The connections that our collective memory creates lay the true foundation for what we endlessly strive to become.”

These are the good old days

July 25, 2017


These sounds, these feelings, this energy; it’s all about the context of our relationship to our environment. Perhaps an urban solution is not needed to solve a simple, small-town problem.”

A little more conversation, a little less action

May 30, 2018


“Once that building goes up, or that sidewalk is laid down, it’s not going away.  We must remind ourselves that, every time we add something, we take something else away. Let’s tread lightly; we don’t want to pave paradise.”

Where the sidewalk starts

July 24, 2019


“People are drawn to fun, the genuine kind that you can’t contrive, plan, market, or schedule. Let’s pay homage to our roots, and have fun — for fun’s sake.”

Those days of fun for fun’s sake

Jan. 19, 2022


“The late John Bemis, namesake and founder of our Thanksgiving Community Potluck, left a legacy that stretches far beyond our annual tradition. He recultivated a piece of our thriving sense of community, as we join together, sharing each other’s company, food, and ideas.”

Giving thanks 

Nov. 14, 2017


“A human story is unfolding on our rocky, snow-covered mountain every day. What lies within — we’ll call it our heart, our essence — is not confined by our physical body.”

Challenge Aspen: The heart of Snowmass

January 2016


“What will Snowmass Village look like one day? Will we miss the mark and obstruct the landscape, or settle in harmony within the vast natural beauty that surrounds us?”

Scaffolding our future

Feb. 13, 2018


“Like the mistakes of yesterday, the mistakes of tomorrow will belong to all of us.”

Do it once and do it right 

Aug. 17, 2022


“If development is done with mindful consideration, our human impact can blend into our environment and come to even feel in harmony.”

Call it a facelift?

Sept. 25, 2019


“Character is an intangible thing, but we know it when we see it, when we feel it; and, as long as it exists here in Snowmass, it is our job to preserve the magic, the dream, the vision.”

It’s the “Vision Thing”

Aug. 10, 2016


“Well done is better than well said.” Those are not my words, that was Benjamin Franklin, but I agree; so, please help me put my own words into action. It would be an honor to represent our community voice on council.

Britta Gufstafson is running for the Snowmass Village Town Council in the Nov. 8 election.

Haims: Avoid a hospital visit with proper winter footwear

As winter nears, many of us will soon put snow tires on our cars. Researching the best tires for our particular car is often an interesting process. There seems to be so many variables when choosing just the right winter tire; all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, front wheel drive, SUV, cross-over, sedan. Then, there are additional choices of winter specific, studless, studs, and all-season. Sifting through all the choices and cost variables takes time.

However, this article is not about tires. I mention tires because we place so much importance on the proper tires that keep ourselves and our families safe yet many of us don’t have the same consideration for the shoes we wear in the winter. Falls due to ice and snow are one of the most common injuries causing people to visit the hospital. Proper choice in our winter footwear is as important to our safety as our winter tire choices.

While appropriate footwear is critical for technical activities like hiking, running, sports, and walking, it’s also as important for everyday life throughout the winter. Winter shoes and boots need to provide not only traction, but warmth and comfort. Here are some suggestions for choosing the right shoe or boot:

  • Warmth
  • Comfort and coziness
  • Ankle support
  • Water resistance
  • Traction
  • Style
  • Ease to take on and off

In general, winter shoes should provide versatility for both indoor and outdoor safety. This means that a shoe tread should be chosen that offers slip protection when on flat indoor surfaces and traction while outdoors on the snow and ice. That’s a lot of variables to place on one product.  

For winter conditions here in the mountains, often the most versatile choice for foot gear is a lightweight waterproof boot with insulated lining or even faux shearling. You should make sure that you do not choose a boot that is more hiking specific than general purpose. Hiking boots often have a harder rubber sole and stiffer boot support than other boot types — thus not conducive for general purposes, indoors and comfort.

A good all-round choice boot should be lightweight, waterproof and be at least mid-ankle height so that when you come across slushy snow or puddles of water, your feet stay dry. Be aware that just because a boot may be mid-ankle or higher, does not mean that it will provide a high level of ankle support. Look for padded sides, a firm structure, and lacing all the way to the top to make sure the ankle is well supported. As for tread choice, look for footwear that offers deep lugs or a gummed rubber sole as these will most often provide greater traction versatility. 

Be cautious about purchasing traction products (crampon cleats) that have metal studs, rubber cleats, or spiraling wire that slip over your shoe/boot. While these products work well while outdoors in inclement weather such as snow and ice, they do not transition well to the indoors. Often, such products can be very slippery indoors on hard surfaces.

Locally, Dr. Noel E. Armstrong, is a great resource for assessing your foot and ankle biomechanics and providing guidance on proper footwear. In Eagle County, Dr. Brian Maurer at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle is also available to assist.

By the way, should you choose to use a crampon or traction cleat to attach to your shoes, make sure you remove them before walking inside. These devices are susceptible to causing slipping on smooth surfaces.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and available to answer questions. His contact information is VisitingAngels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.

Kennedy: Queen’s lessons from life of service

It will be remembered as one of those “where were you?” moments. Queen Elizabeth’s passing Sept. 8 wasn’t surprising. She was 96. The Queen had lived a long, joyous, and fulfilling life. 

Why should Americans care about a British monarch’s demise? Upon its founding, the United States deliberately chastised the monarchy. Why should rural U.S. readers have an interest in the Queen’s passing? She was socially, politically and economically insignificant to their lives. 

Queen Elizabeth II devoted her life to public service knowing she was under a constant microscope. The Queen conducted herself in a manner setting an example — an example that she recognized would be studied and emulated by all walks of life regardless of socio-economic status or nationality. She also understood the same example would be duplicated long after her passing, no matter how minor or vital her conduct, remarks or decisions were. 

Two examples distinguish themselves among many: her willingness to serve in the British military in World War II and her involvement in the Northern Ireland dispute.

She refused to use her royalty as an excuse from serving in the military. She joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service toward the end of the war. The organization served as the British army’s women’s branch.  Elizabeth joined as a driver and mechanic. She was the first female member of the royal family to serve in the UK’s military. She left as a honorary junior commander — the equivalent of a U.S. Army captain. 

She could have used her royal status to avoid military service. The future queen chose not to.

World War II impacted the British Isles across all walks of life, including the royal family. She sent a clear message that everyone had a duty to serve their country, regardless of how major or minor their role or class status. Her father, King George VI, furthermore, ensured she wasn’t given preferential treatment; a pursuit she adhered to. 

The Queen believed in reconciliation. She played a significant symbolic role in solidifying the peace process over Northern Ireland.

The area is contested between the English Protestant Loyalists and the Irish Catholic Unionists. The Loyalists favor remaining under England’s auspices, while the Unionists support joining with Ireland. The Loyalists-Unionists quarrel is a centuries-long dispute. 

She made several visits to Northern Ireland during her reign. The most notable occurred in 2011, when she shook hands with Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuiness.

The event is noteworthy considering McGuiness was a leader of the Provincial IRA at the time one of Queen Elizabeth’s cousins, Lord Mountbatten, was assassinated, resulting in an escalation of tensions during a period known as The Troubles in the early 1960s and late 1990s. At least 3,000 people died during the period.

There are unconfirmed reports McGuiness approved the operation against Mountbatten. Elizabeth’s gesture was an effort to allow history’s ghosts to rest. The handshake and visit facilitated the peace process started under the 1998 Good Friday Accord. It further eased tensions between London and Northern Ireland. 

Her lessons are applicable in the current age. We live in a time when both of Her Majesty’s attributes are lacking. We live in a period when reconciliation is unacceptable, when it’s viewed as weakness.

A strong possibility is the United States’ polarized climate could begin to end — if one side made a simple reconciliatory gesture toward the other.  It’s possible the event could instigate a healing process the United States needs. 

Queen Elizabeth set an example Americans should study and emulate.

I lived in England on three separate occasions. Queen Elizabeth was revered, respected and loved by the British people. Her death comes during a transition in the United Kingdom.

The nation is emerging from the pandemic. Its economy is suffering from inflation. The country’s health-care system is strained. And, the UK had just inaugurated a new prime minister.

Queen Elizabeth II’s passage into history comes at a critical juncture in the British Isles’ history. Great Britain’s new monarch will have a hard act to follow.

What remains unknown is what kind of leader will King Charles III become. Will he furnish similar leadership examples as his mother? Will he compel the British monarchy to be more politically active? Will he continue the Royals’ tradition of remaining figureheads?

Or, will King Charles III take the monarchy and the British people in an unanticipated direction? Queen Elizabeth’s passing and King Charles III ascension mark the end and beginning of a new era. The next several years will be telling for the monarchy and our British cousins, more importantly.

Matthew Kennedy has a master’s degree in diplomatic studies from the University of Westminster in London.

Holly McLain: That’s a park, not a wetlands in Snowmass Village

Town Park wetlands? If you build it they will come! They will come with dogs off leash to jump in the pond. They will come with children to picnic on a man-made beach.

They will come in larger numbers because our Roaring Fork Valley is growing, as Highway 82 traffic is becoming a slow crawl from Aspen to Glenwood for workers to service the booming pleasure grounds nestled in our mountains. 

A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water. If the town of Snowmass Village chooses to disturb their natural wetlands with walking paths, raised boardwalks, bridges and a beach at the originally man made pond, then this natural area will turn into a human byway and amusement park.  

Many native species will leave. Some species will stay, because they have adapted to humans, but the rare, more shy creatures will flee. 

Ecological resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change, retaining the same function, structure and identity. Impacts of construction disturbances caused by this town water park and the human intrusion that follows will remove any semblance of a true natural wetland. 

Snowmass Creek water is clean and clear. I know, because I owned Moon Run Ranch in Old Snowmass for 47 years. Snowmass Village takes water from Snowmass Creek by right. The town prizes this quality water, which is pumped up from the bottom of Snowmass Creek to the village. The Snowmass Capitol Creek Caucus, of which I was a member, has fought for years to protect stream flows in Snowmass Creek for aquatic life sustainability. 

The quality of Brush Creek water has always been poor. The soil combination of shale, clay and low stream flow compromises the quality of this urban streamwater.

The proximity of the Snowmass Club Golf Course and Snowmass Water and Sanitation and other urban village sources likely contribute to water runoff of excessive levels of unwanted nutrients.

The Town Park’s man-made pond was improved in 2007 to serve as a filter for sediment and as a catchment retention-containment pond that collects sludge and silt, and is now clogged by bull rushes.

The true wetland, below the pond, is a winding course of small seeps and streams protected by native vegetation and which sustains an abundance of biodiverse life. It also filters the water headed downstream to the Roaring Fork River. 

Dogs off leash are a major problem in the wetland area. It has been reported that dogs have been swimming in the man-made pond. Perhaps the town of Snowmass Village should create a dog park for residents and their animals, which will offset damage done to our natural wetland environment.  

It makes sense to clean and establish a healthy pond, leaving native grasses and some bull rushes near the outlet. If the Town Council votes not to disrupt the natural wetlands, the wildlife will stay!

Holly McLain’s family built the second home on the developing ski mountain in the town of Snowmass Village in the early 1970s.

Art Allard: No plea bargains with the almighty

According to the original state papers, the United States of America was intended to be founded upon civil, human principles described as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” with each requiring the cooperation of the other.

It follows that law was enacted such that political, economic and religious equality be made available to all citizens; that privilege (of any kind) be unrecognized, particularly insofar as class is concerned.

In America, legitimate journalism is properly recognized as the Fourth Estate — that is, as an instrument dedicated to the advancement of liberal democracy.

Since law is the means by which civil, human principles continue, it is noted that law itself exists on a greater and lesser plane.

For America is said, by its original documents, to be “One nation under God.”

Therefore, divine law is of infinitely greater importance than civil (human positive law) in that God, its originator, is supreme, whereas man’s law is merely a weak effort and often at odds with divine law itself.

As taught by the biblical God himself, interference within human (and natural) order occurs according to acceptance of the seven primary failings: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

These weaknesses were initially revealed to the Jews and later to Christians, by explaining that love of God and love of man cannot be accomplished while in avoidance of divine law which leads to civil disorder.

By definition, failure to obey divine law is called sin, and failure to obey civil law (if proper) is called crime.

Each failure, of course, describes within the individual the suspension of rational thought and behavior.

And so Karl Menninger, the renowned psychiatrist, in aligning sin and crime, produced “What Ever Became of Sin?”

For just as crime carries with it punishment (but only if prosecuted), so does sin. Punishment for crime is determined by one’s fellow citizens, themselves weak, sinful and corrupt. Sin, however, is determined by the divine judge, who is not weak, sinful, corrupt or unjust.

Further, punishment for crime is temporal, no matter the extent of injury to others. Judgment by God, however, is awful and permanent … unless genuine forgiveness is requested, and retribution, if possible, is made available to the injured.

In Aspen, with an economy dedicated to the material interests of those who overlook the sins of pride, greed, lust and gluttony, who deny eschatological concerns, whose wealth permits avoidance of civil punishment, whose lifestyle causes social havoc and damage to nature (the divine construct), and who deny human love, arrogance and disrespect for civil, social order leaves many in precarious straits.

In denial of a final rendering, they remain vulnerable — for, in the divine court of eternal justice, there is no provision for plea bargaining.

Art Allard is an Aspen resident.

Kosdrosky: APCHA’s PR issue has deeper roots

The cliché “the more things change, the more they stay the same” came to mind after reading The Aspen Times’ article “Fear, distrust of Aspen’s housing program a growing concern” last week.

As a former executive director of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, I believe the organization’s problems have more to do with politics than public relations. Although both are clearly at issue, one looms large over the other.

APCHA’s governance structure determines its politics. Under Colorado law, any combination of cities, towns and counties may contract with each other to establish “a separate government entity to be known as a multi-jurisdictional housing authority.” The key phrase here being “separate government entity.”

But, is APCHA a separate government entity independent from the political whims and controls of either the city or county?

In 2012, three years before I started with APCHA, the all-citizens APCHA volunteer board hired a third-party law firm out of Boulder to investigate this very question.

According to the law firm, all housing authorities in Colorado are authorized by state law and defined by intergovernmental agreements. Once created by any combination of contracting local governments, every housing authority should act as an independent governmental unit. But, “at some point … an entity would cease to be an independent governmental unit if the governments that created it take over all of its decision-making functions.”

In 2019, the city and county amended the agreement governing APCHA that replaced the all-citizen board with a hybrid of citizens and elected officials. This “reform” measure gave elected officials from the city and county not only a direct seat at the housing policy table, but also an oversized influence on any of APCHA’s little remaining administrative independence.

In short, the city and county doubled down on demoting APCHA to a department of the city without calling it that. They did so despite warnings from the previous all-citizens APCHA board at the time in The Aspen Times and the 2012 legal opinion, which stated: “Regardless of the financial relationship between the parties or delegation of APCHA duties to the city, the APCHA is not a department or division of the city or county. It is an independent political subdivision.”

Anyone who knows APCHA knows that it is not currently run as a separate government entity nor as an independent housing authority as intended under state law. Anyone who says otherwise strains the limits of credulity.

APCHA clearly has a public-relations problem. But, that problem is just a symptom of a much larger issue, which is the politics of its intergovernmental agreement as defined by its overreaching creators.

Mike Kosdrosky, MPA, is the principal and owner of Workforce Housing Solutions.

James McMahon: Fear of wolves rooted in myth

Wolves are coming to Colorado, and so far I have not witnessed people preparing for their arrival. Letters appear in local papers suggesting that ranchers will be the victims once wolves return. Hunters won’t find elk. Outfitters will go broke.

The myth of wolves is driving this concern, but the reality of wolves is not. 

Wolf advocates have downplayed the negative impact of wolves. The passing of Proposition 114 is a feather in the cap for those whose goal was to establish connectivity between wolves from Canada to Mexico.

Now comes the hard part. If Colorado is to be different from the Northern Rockies, where wolves are being hunted, or southern New Mexico/Arizona where reintroduction is a dismal failure in a hostile human environment, reintroduction must be done differently.

The key lies in understanding wolves. There’s no doubt that ranchers, hunters and outfitters will be affected. Rural residents will be, too. People will have to adapt. Wolves will put elk herds on the move so hunters will have to actually hunt to find them. Livestock predation will occur. Pets will be killed. These are facts.

Still, none of these people will suffer nearly as much as they fear. A single rancher, such as the case in North Park, might find himself singled out because a wolf pack established a territory that includes his ranch. Pure chance had that pack chase a herd of elk through his cattle and start them on the run.

Wolves have been missing from Colorado for at least 80 years. So people’s views of wolves are rooted in hearsay. Wolves and humans co-exist in relative peace in places in Europe, like Spain, where wolves were never eliminated.

It would be most helpful if Colorado Parks and Wildlife were to dedicate a full-time person to educational outreach providing factual information about wolves. Conflict can be reduced if the public has a better understanding of wolf behavior. 

Most wolf packs never bother livestock. Ranching has always been a hard way to make a living, but ranchers live on the land in ways that city folk never will. As people who know our wildlands, perhaps some can come to see wolves as a new and fascinating neighbor. A difficult neighbor, to be sure. Can we be curious? Can we be fascinated?

It’s time to prepare. Ranchers would be well served by studying both the non-lethal methods and stockmanship practices that result in minimizing losses. Running untended livestock in the mountains where wolves are present will have to change.

The Colorado Cattleman’s Association can take a lead role by providing training in stockmanship practices that reduce livestock losses. Likewise, Colorado Woolgrowers could be researching sheep dog breeds in Europe that successfully protect against wolves.

Ranching is an integral part of Colorado. Ranches provide open space, wildlife habitat, and grand vistas that make Colorado an amazing state. It is only if ranching remains profitable that ranches will continue to provide a shield against a landscape filled with subdivisions. 

If wolf opponents and advocates remain stuck in their views, reintroduction will result in fear and conflict. It is the people of Colorado — ranchers, hunters, outfitters and wolf advocates alike — who will make reintroduction a success or a dismal failure. 

I do not see us on that path. I see obstinance on both sides. Unless we all start to prepare, the current trajectory is toward dead sheep, dead cows and dead wolves.

James P. McMahon has a B.S. in ecology and animal behavior from the University of Illinois and extensive experience in community organizing. He lives in Durango.