City, Pitco renew ecological focus |

City, Pitco renew ecological focus

Jeremy Heiman

Pitkin County and the city of Aspen have resolved to adopt an ecological bill of rights as part of county and city code by Earth Day – April 22.

The 14-point ecological bill of rights (EBOR) is an updated version of a similar 10-point document adopted by both boards in 1989. It is intended to keep officials aware of the value of the natural world during all deliberations, discussions and actions which would affect the natural environment.

The new EBOR was created area environmentalists Connie Harvey, Joy Caudill and Dottie Fox with the assistance of the county Environmental Health Department. It has been endorsed by 13 environmental groups and institutions ranging from Trout Unlimited to the Rocky Mountain Institute.

The EBOR was met with unanimous general approval when county Environmental Health Director Tom Dunlop brought the bill to the combined boards to ask for direction in a work session Tuesday. But several of the legislators did suggest changes to the document.

The EBOR recognizes citizens’ rights to such things as clean air, preservation of riparian areas and wetlands, preservation of wildlife, efficient use of energy, freedom from excessive noise, and freedom from exposure to toxic chemicals. It concludes with: “The right to expect from our government legislation and active enforcement of land use and development regulations consistent with this Ecological Bill of Rights.”

Because the previous bill of rights sank into obscurity after adoption, each point in the new version of the EBOR is accompanied by so-called action steps. These direct officials to complete specific actions, designed to promote compliance with the document, along with their other duties.

For example, the right to a landscape free of noxious weeds is accompanied by the following action step: “The city of Aspen and Pitkin County will investigate and use the least environmentally harmful practical weed-control measures.” The action steps are designed to be replaced with updated action steps when appropriate.

Representatives of about a dozen groups supporting the EBOR were present. “This is a pretty tame statement, folks,” said Rocky Mountain Institute co-founder Hunter Lovins.

County Commissioner Leslie Lamont suggested more action steps pushing goals of public transit and pedestrian-friendly development.

“In my opinion, the biggest detriment to environmental quality in the valley is the single-occupant vehicle,” Lamont said.

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