Newspaper columnist gets the runaround
December 13, 2011
Having known Connie Harvey’s house since I was a teenager a half-century ago, I was mystified by descriptions of it last week in one of Aspen’s dailies. Was it really “along the banks of Maroon Creek,” as appended to the bio in what Connie didn’t know was to be her last column?
Should she really acknowledge that she lives along the bank of Maroon Creek when she writes an advocacy column, as instructed by a fellow columnist? I reaffirmed the layout. On the riverbank, as remembered, is the Caudill house, then a road, and on the other side of that road, the Harvey house. Couldn’t the columnist have gone to look at Connie’s house before he lectured her based on false information? Beyond that, should we distrust information based on long proximity?
It is ironic that we are told to act locally, but if we act too locally we are called NIMBYs. Full disclosure: I live over Castle Creek. I say “over” because the drop-off is so long and steep that I can’t see the creek unless I go to the brink. I share Connie’s opposition to the hydroplant project, but not because I will be personally affected. The creek remains gorgeous, high water or low.
Numbers make us glaze, so I will keep them to a minimum. At spring runoff, Castle Creek can run up to 800 cubic feet per second, but the average is 45 cubic feet per second. According to the cursory Miller Study, the only technical investigation to date, the water will be drawn down as far as 13.5 cubic feet per second for eight months of the year, leaving roughly a third of the average flow. What will that do to the ecosystem within the creek? We don’t know. But Maroon Creek is similarly impacted, and depriving life of two-thirds of its sustenance threatens havoc. To reduce our carbon footprint by destroying two riparian ecosystems is the ecological equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
It is worth noting that the city, under the guise of servicing the tiny Thomas Reservoir, has bought enough penstock (piping) for the project before it has been approved – just as Exxon bought the piping for the Alyeska pipeline before its approval and TransCanada has already bought the pipeline for the currently postponed Keystone XL. These are not precedents Aspen can be proud of.
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As for Connie Harvey, she has devoted her adult life to protecting our surrounding habitat, including a crucial expansion of the Maroon-Snowmass Wilderness Area. She should be honored for her contributions to the Roaring Fork Valley rather than misrepresented before her dismissal as a columnist.