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Election reflection from the mountains: Sun still came up today!

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The “blue” mountains of Colorado.

Time to move beyond tired election rehash stories and campaign post-mortems 

By Bob Berwyn

Mark Udall will be missed by many in Colorado’s high country towns, where people have developed a culture and lifestyle based on values that mostly transcend political and ideological divides. We don’t squabble so much about gun rights or abortion — mountain culture is global, rooted to natural resources and imbued, for the most part, with an appreciation of a clean and healthy environment.

Udall has hiked, skied and camped across the Colorado mountains and really involved himself in issues that matter to high country dwellers: Forest fires, outdoor recreation, water and wilderness preservation among the most important. He was probably the closest thing we had in Congress to a champion for the mountains, which isn’t surprising, given his family’s legacy, so there was a real sense of sadness in some of the social media comments on his loss to Cory Gardner.

More worrisome was the immediate nasty and partisan edge to some of the comments about Cory Gardner, who will represent Summit County, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Grand County … ALL of Colorado for the next six years.

Instead of setting the stage for more years of bickering and ideological grandstanding, this may be the time to make a genuine effort to reach out across party lines to try and find some common ground, even before the new Congress takes office. Continue reading

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Op-ed: Ski industry bullies USFS on water rights

Proposed new water rule in the works for western ski areas

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Oh, oh, the water … bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — After being bullied by the ski industry in court and legislative arenas, the U.S. Forest Service has decided to shift its approach to administering valuable water rights associated with ski area operations in western states.

Instead of requiring resorts to transfer water rights, the Forest Service now proposes adding language to ski area permits that would ensure that enough water remains linked to ensure future operations. The water rights could not be sold separately from other resort assets like chairlifts and lodges.

That would address the main concern the Forest Service voiced when it first proposed changes to the administration of water rights a few years ago, but doesn’t address the bigger issue of resorts trying to establish total control over public resources. Continue reading

Opinion: Global warming comes out of the closet

The remnants of Sandy swirl over the Northeast in the NASA satellite image.

Hurricane Sandy spurs awareness of  links between climate change and extreme weather

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Along with devastating New Jersey’s shoreline and flooding big chunks of New York City, Hurricane Sandy also pushed the public dialogue about climate change out of the musty closet and right smack into the middle of polite dinner table conversation and, even more importantly, into the political arena, just days before the presidential election.

After a couple of days surveying the damage, both the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York directly addressed the issue in a social and political context. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, factored climate change into a political endorsement of Barack Obama as the candidate better equipped to tackle the issue.

“In In just 14 months, two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods — something our city government had never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable,” Bloomberg wrote in an editorial for the Bloomberg View. Continue reading

Opinion: Global warming takes toll on Colorado forests

Climate change outpacing most predictions

Dead lodgepole pine forests dominate many Summit County vistas. Bob Berwyn photo.

by Howard Hallman and Brad Piehl

It doesn’t take a scientist to understand the connection between climate change and forest fires. Last spring was hot and dry, which resulted in a dry forest that easily burns. This should not surprise us. What is surprising is the pace of climate change and the damage it has already caused to our forests and communities.

A vast majority of American scientists now recognize climate change as a threat to our nation’s well-being. Their findings are supported by decades of top-notch research. The climate is changing at the pace of many of the worst-case predictions from five to 10 years ago. Last year there were thousands of new record high temperatures across America. Severe drought conditions devastated millions of acres of crop and grazing land. Acres burned by catastrophic wildfire have increased significantly over the last several decades. Continue reading

GOP message: ‘We’re more American than you’

Opinion: GOP offers flawed interpretation of ‘American exceptionalism’

Mitt Romney. Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

Barack Obama. Photo courtesy Daniel Borman via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

 By Bob Berwyn

Republicans are recycling the theme of American exceptionalism as part of their campaign to win the White House and take control of the U.S. Senate. I applaud the recycling as possibly the only part of the GOP platform that’s environmentally friendly, but take issue with their efforts to co-opt Americanism as political campaign weapon.

There’s a subtle but persistent message trying to convince voters that Republicans are somehow “more American” than Democrats. It’s an election tactic that may play well with part of the electorate, but it’s fundamentally divisive and destroys the consensus needed to govern, regardless of which party controls the White House and Congress.

It starts with the low-level background buzz questioning the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate and peaks with a nationalistic war cry that seems to put us on a path toward yet another bloody Middle East confrontation with Iran, based on an antiquated and unrealistic interpretation of foreign relations, with the U.S. as a militaristic world policeman. The Republican vision of American exceptionalism is based on the myth of the lone gunman — that’s why Clint Eastwood was a speaker at the GOP convention. Continue reading

Romney’s lunar-landing reference beyond ironic

The 1969 moon landing was an example of American collectivism at its best, the antithesis of what the Republican Party stands for in 2012. Photo courtesy NASA.

Opinion: Space program driven by a vision for the common good of mankind

By Bob Berwyn

If I were to give Mitt Romney the benefit of the doubt after his acceptance speech, I would say his reference to the moon landing was a plea for national unity on crucial issues, or an appeal to find common ground to move ahead toward goals all Americans can support.

But in reality, the lines were inserted by his committee of speech writers as a grasping reference to current events. And Romney managed to turn even this shining example of the American can-do spirit at its best into a shrill pitch for nationalism and American exceptionalism.

And it’s beyond ironic that he chose the space program, which illustrates American collectivism at its best — not to mention that it was initiated by a president who would repudiate nearly all of Romney’s notions of what it means to be American. Continue reading

Op-ed: Act now to end gun violence

Bob Berwyn.

In the wake of Aurora murders, Hickenlooper claims we live in a safe country, but outside a war zone, your best chance of being shot is in any major American city

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Waking to the news of the mass shooting in Aurora brought back haunting memories of 9/11, when the first few hours of the day also passed in a dizzying blur of glimpses at CNN, interspersed with caring for my lively four-year-old.

Friday morning, my thoughts again immediately turned to my son, who was not in the house as the news unfolded, but thankfully far away from Aurora, safely attending a camp at Copper Mountain.

We’ve been to a few midnight movie premieres here in Summit County in recent years, time that was always filled with pleasant anticipation, so I was able to imagine the vibe in the theater last night before the show started.

What I can’t even begin to imagine is the feeling of horror that must have prevailed in the moments when the shooting started, nor the indescribable grief that families of victims are feeling.

As I watched the first few hours of news coverage, I could see an all-too familiar pattern emerging, with initial details about the shooter, the victims, the police response, and finally, reaction and statements from elected officials.

What was missing was a sense of outrage that, in this day and age, an individual can amass that sort of arsenal and use it to do unspeakable harm in a public place. Some of that outrage surfaced here and there in a few sound bites and interviews, but the overall sense of the coverage was, here we go again, and when will it end? Continue reading

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