By James Steindler
The regular county commissioner board meeting on Oct. 4 began with a couple of public comments from “citizens not on the agenda.” One of whom was Dave Hillbrand with White River Trail Runners ATV/UTV Club. Hillbrand requested that the commissioners hold a meeting regarding the use of off-highway-vehicles (OHVs) on the Buford Road, outside of New Castle and leading to the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, which does not currently permit OHV traffic.
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky informed Hillbrand that they would have to involve the U.S. Forest Service before making a decision. Commissioner Mike Samson mentioned that he has had conversations with White River Forest Service Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams on the subject, who allegedly expressed reservations due to liability concerns.
“The three of us don’t have a problem with that,” said Samson. “The problem is the Forest Service saying, ‘We don’t want to open it up to that.’” Jankovsky recommended having Congresswoman Lauren Boebert’s staff present, which Samson agreed would be a good idea.
“The Forest Service is very cautious,” said Chairman John Martin, “and I think they need to loosen up a little bit.” Samson agreed to set up the meeting and start by getting in touch with Boebert’s Grand Junction-based regional director Hogan Peterson and “then try and pull in the Forest Service.” Samson added that it would be a public meeting and would likely be held in Glenwood Springs.
Letters to the state
Jankovsky and county staff completed a proposed redistricting map for the Colorado State Senate, along with a persuasive letter to the Colorado Congressional Redistricting Commission. “We put Gunnison, Delta, East Mesa, Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat County in District 5,” explained Jankovky. “This is a district that has natural resources and agriculture as their major drivers.”
The proposal suggests that Routt, Jackson, Grand, Clear Creek, Summit, Lake, Pitkin and Eagle counties should make up District 8. Jankovsky described these counties as “more mountain resort communities that rely on tourism.”
Jankovky said that the proposal would meet the population numbers necessary for each district, with 164,327 in what’s suggested to be District 5 and 162,902 in District 8.
The problem with the state’s second staff redistricting plan, as the commissioner sees it, is that it splits up Garfield County. The county “is split in two with the majority of our population, about 55,000, in District 5 and the other 6,000 or so people in District 8,” he stated.
The commissioners agreed to submit the letter drafted by Jankovsky, along with the proposed map, to the state redistricting commission.
Following the redistricting discussion, the commissioners agreed to send a separate letter, on behalf of the Western and Rural Local Government Coalition, to the state’s Air Quality Control Commission in support of the recent Greenhouse Gas Upstream Intensity Program presented on Sept. 17 by the Air Quality Control Division.
The letter reads, “We believe the Division’s Upstream Intensity Program proposal, as currently drafted by regulators with input from the regulated community, is the right way to incent and compel industry to further improve its operational practices to reduce emissions while allowing individual operators to continue thriving in the 15 eastern and western Colorado counties and eight municipalities we represent…”
“I’d just like to say, this has always been the direction we’ve taken through all of our oil and gas hearings,” said Jankovky. “There are differences between the West Slope and East Slope and oil versus natural gas production, so this just follows the same line of thought.”
“I didn’t hear that, or see that, in either news media, that we supported the commission at all,” joked Martin. “We’re always being barbequed for questioning the commission.”
“Well we’ll be barbequed for this letter too,” added Jankovsky. The commissioners unanimously agreed to send the letter.
Next on the agenda
At 1 p.m. on Oct. 11, the commissioners are scheduled to address the eagle buffer zone along the Roaring Fork River in Aspen Glen, following their site visit to the area on Sept. 29.
Aspen Glen resident Sibel Tekce wrote to The Sopris Sun expressing her support for keeping the eagle buffer zone in place. Sibel argues that the “current nest is now located in an area without open space making it impossible for them to hunt, forage or roost in close proximity to it. Consequently, they still return to their ancestral hunting and foraging grounds, making the retention of the eagle/wildlife buffer zone imperative for their survival.”
The public meeting will be held at the Garfield County Administration Building in Glenwood Springs; there is also the option to appear via Zoom.