Eagle County needs Roger Brown
October 29, 2006
Roger Brown wants to give back to Eagle County, and he wants to do so as a county commissioner. He has lived in Eagle County for 44 years, the last few decades in an energy-efficient, earth-bermed home near Gypsum. Brown loves this place, despite tectonic shifts in the county’s character since he first saw it in the ’60s. Brown’s perspective as a filmmaker and studied observer of his community makes him a vital asset to future decision-making on the Western Slope. That’s why I’m making a rare endorsement in this column for Roger Brown as Eagle County Commissioner, representing the Basalt/El Jebel area.To best understand Roger Brown and where he stands on the issues, read his book, “Requiem for the West,” which spells out Brown’s attachment to the land and his impassioned motivation to preserve its remaining rural character.”I care deeply about this land and many of the people who live on it, so I do not take lightly the task of being critical,” writes Brown with frank honesty. “I would rather just close my eyes and ignore some of the things that have gone wrong, but some of us have to speak out.”Brown is concerned about rapid growth and development, about the loss of wild lands, about the impacts of the resort population explosion in rural Colorado. As a filmmaker, he has documented much of the West’s growing pains. He also confesses to having promoted them.”I have probably made more tourism promotional films about Rocky Mountain destinations than anyone,” he confesses in his book. “So I have had a lot to do with bringing people here… I am guilty.”Through his films, Brown has both contributed to the economic vitality of Western Colorado and helped seal its fate as an overdeveloped resort center. Now, at 70 years old, Brown has moved past culpability into a personal mission to help lay the best future Eagle County can envision, including the mid-valley of the Roaring Fork.”Now I want to give back and help guide the county toward a prosperous, sustainable future, a future that can accommodate my children,” says Brown in his current campaign.As an activist, Brown successfully fought for decades to stop the Denver Water Board from drying up the Vail Valley. He led the effort to create Senate Bill 97, the minimum stream flow law that protects our watersheds. In the early ’90s, Brown made a PBS documentary film “Western Ranching: Culture in Crisis” that defended Colorado cattlemen from a grazing fee increase that could have put them out of business.Brown’s key local issues today are affordable housing, efficient transportation and the conservation of open space and wild lands. His broader concerns include addressing global warming through efficient, renewable energy, securing water quality for domestic use and for healthy rivers and streams, and ameliorating the stresses of immigration with social sensitivity and cultural awareness.Distilling Brown’s complex platform in one newspaper column offers only a small glimpse of the man and his concerns. The best endorsement I can give is that Brown is open, receptive, smart, experienced and caring. His heart and soul are in this country, and he feels confident that the political process can provide corrective measures to ensure a healthy, fulfilling future.In his book, Brown concludes: “Yes, the old West is dead and a requiem is appropriate, but there is still an opportunity to shape a new West that is not based on greed but on quality of life… Speak out, behave yourself, be kind to Nature, think in the long term, and listen to your heart.”Brown listens to his heart, and the message is strong – preserve, conserve and serve. We need people like Roger Brown in our local governments.Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays.
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