Aspen mayor questionnaire, part 3: Candidates at odds over dams
MAYOR QUESTIONSEditor's note: The Aspen Times asked five questions of the two candidates vying for mayor: incumbant Steve Skadron and challenger Lee Mulcahy. This year is a mail-in ballots only, and election Day is May 2. Question 1: Tell us about yourself and why you’re running for Aspen mayor?
Question 3: Why or why not should the city reserve its rights to dam both the Castle and Maroon creeks?
Question 4: Does the Lift 1 side of Aspen Mountain need capital improvements such as a new restaurant, lodge and chairlift, or is it fine the way it is now?
Question 5: As mayor, how would you make Aspen more affordable for mom-and-pop or startup businesses? Or do you prefer to let the free market decide?
Editor’s note: This is the third of a five-part questionnaire for the two mayoral candidates in the May election — incumbent Steve Skadron and challenger Lee Mulcahy. The series concludes Friday. Mail ballots will be sent out April 10, the same day The Aspen Times launches its five-part series of questions for the six candidates vying for the two open seats on Aspen City Council.
Today’s question: Why or why not should the city reserve its rights to dam both the Castle and Maroon creeks?
The city should reserve its rights. Without knowing more about viable alternatives to water storage, it simply would not be prudent water management or responsible government to give up these water rights. After all, climate and other changes in our region are uncertain, and what our needs will look like in 2066 is not something we are poised to gamble away by letting the storage right go.
While today it seems unlikely that the Front Range would take even more of our water or that interests as far away as California would look to Aspen to meet ever growing demand, I’m not going to bet your drinking water — like others will for political gain — that it won’t happen.
I support taking collaborative efforts to work with the community and stakeholders to find water storage solutions other than dams. That means two things: Our water rights are protected for another few years and we can explore the most innovative water management strategies available.
Say “no” to dams at the Maroon Bells. Instead, “throw the bastards out.”
If you care about conservation, wilderness, healthy rivers or our rural lifestyle, you need look no further than the mayor and the incumbent’s council plans to build a pair of 15-story dams in the shadow of the world-famous Maroon Bells as reason to clean out City Hall. We should abandon plans to build the 150-foot-tall Maroon Creek dam and the 170-foot-tall Castle Creek dam that would flood private property on Castle Creek as well as federally protected land in the Maroon Bells Wilderness, one of the most visited and photographed valleys in the West. Now.
Wilderness Workshop stated: “Even if the population of Aspen triples to more than 17,000 (growth that is likely far outside the community’s desired future) and climate change causes significant change in the runoff pattern, there will still be plenty of water for the citizens of Aspen.”
Our failing politicians, so clearly represented by the incumbent mayor and the corrupt machine (incumbent council and city manager), could not be more out of step with community values. The mayor spent $30,000 on lawyers in January 2017 and recently has wastefully approved another $100,000 for onwards of your tax money to defend the pair of 15-story dams in the courts against powerful opponents like American Rivers, Western Resources Advocate, Pitkin County and the feds.
Our jet-setting elite mayor, who is more apt to be found lecturing in Dubai or Paris, defends his pursuit so that the water rights aren’t taken by another municipality. This is simply hogwash. American Rivers stated: “Constructing a pair of 15-story-tall dams and flooding the Castle and Maroon creek valleys would likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but the monetary price would pale in comparison to the damage the dams would do to the natural environment. The massive ecological impact of dams has been thoroughly documented. Over 80,000 dams in the United States have fragmented habitat, degraded water quality, led to the extinction of dozens of aquatic species and continue to cause significant public safety risks — all at great cost to society.”
Get the dam plans off the books.
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Studies by Colorado Parks and Wildlife show the survival of elk calves in the Roaring Fork Valley has dropped about 33 percent in the last decade. White River National Forest officials said they need to act to try to reserve that trend. They are seeking public comment on their plan.