Mark Udall should step up

  I enjoyed your story, "The Coyote Caucus takes the West to Washington" (HCN, 10/11/04: The Coyota Caucus takes the West to Washington). The question to me is, will Mark Udall step up and be a conservation leader?

I have concerns, owing to an issue in a federal enclave largely in Mark’s district, Rocky Mountain National Park. Many of us, including climbing organizations, worked through Mark’s office throughout 2003 to get Park Superintendent Vaughn Baker to admit in writing that the park had dropped its expert climber/paramedic coverage on Longs Peak, probably the most often climbed high peak in the world. When the superintendent finally admitted the facts, Mark’s office not only dropped out short of any action to remedy the situation, it adopted a reactionary stance against improving alpine trauma care, aligning itself with existing teams and the park and marginalizing our spokesperson. To this day, the park has no expert climber/paramedic.

I believe Mark put personal friendships and the mountain-rescue fraternity over principle and policy. That’s not what a conservation leader does; it’s what someone does who thinks he’s entitled to act as he wishes, based on belonging to (as Pat Schroeder put it) the "lucky sperm club."

Mike Kiley
Longmont, Colorado