Concerned Coloradans comment

  • J. Francis Stafford, former Catholic Archbishop of Denver

  • Ed Ryberg, Forest Service winter sports program administrator, Rocky Mtn. Region

  • Myles Rademan, Ski country consultant/analyst

  • Ford Frick, economist, BBC Research & Consulting


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

J. Francis Stafford
Former Catholic Archbishop of Denver,
1994 Pastoral Letter:

"The time when the Western Slope could be overlooked as a reserve of empty, if beautiful, solitude, has long since passed. The current explosion of Front Range growth has its parallel in communities throughout the mountains, where the physical and social environments are far more fragile because of their unique climate and geography. The impact of growth, at the human level, is therefore much more immediate, dramatic and costly on the Western Slope than along the Front Range. ...

"Growth must be prudent, varied and sustainable. It is unfair and unrealistic to "lock up" so much of nature as to prevent the spread of economic activity. But all growth must be calibrated to remain in balance with nature. Human beings must act as stewards of the earth, rather than conquerors and extractors; we must develop a fraternal relationship with the environment ... Reverence for creation, founded on self-restraint, stands in direct contrast to the past boom-and-bust cycles of Colorado's economy.

"The dangers of a lopsidedly tourism-dependent commerce are its economic shallowness and the damage it will inflict by overusing the environment. ...

"If the distinct beauty of Colorado - one might say its form or soul - resides anywhere, surely it must dwell, at least part of the year, in the character of this high country and its people. And just as it is possible for a person to lose his or her soul through a lifetime of indifference, so Colorado can lose its distinctiveness, its soul, as a community by failing to pay attention to the changes now taking place on the Western Slope."

Pete Michaelson
Legal advisor, Colorado Wildlife

"My preferred alternative is for the U.S. Forest Service to stop directly subsidizing ski areas by running a multimillion-dollar promotional campaign to attract skiers, and to stop indirectly subsidizing the ski industry by never seeing an expansion plan they didn't like. Make the ski areas do real mitigation: For every acre they impact, make them protect two in the same vicinity with perpetual easements. My preferred alternative is for the Forest Service to stop ignoring the broken commitments to mitigate already made in previous plans.

"My preferred alternative is also to encourage small-scale logging and grazing on the public lands, like before white snow became gold, which might diversify the economic and social community. My preferred alternative is for a lift-tax to be applied as a condition of every Forest Service permit, to be used for wildlife, open space, and economic development alternatives."

Ed Ryberg
Forest Service winter sports program administrator for the Rocky Mountain Region:

"Our vision is basically spelled out in the forest plans that were completed in the early 1980s. A tremendous capacity in the downhill ski industry has come on line in the last 15 years. Some areas have been retrofitted two or three times in terms of uphill capacity, on-mountain restaurants, grooming and snowmaking. We're now in the middle of revising that plan for the White River National Forest. It's going to be a lively discussion about the next vision. There is a lot of potential still for the ski industry to do lots of things, like interconnections of ski resorts. But the Forest Service isn't going to take an extreme position. That's just not the nature of the agency. ...

"Lots of people see a cause and effect between ski area development and real estate development. It's there, but it's more complex, caused by such things as intergenerational transfer of wealth, the stock market boom, the ability to telecommute, and other things. But ski areas are the most visible public process going on, so it's easy to tag them for the responsibility of the growth."

Bill Wallace
Summit County commissioner:

"Twenty years ago, the Forest Service permitted ski areas for recreational purposes. Now the ski areas have to a great degree become amenities for the sale of real estate. That's a paradigm shift."

Myles Rademan
Ski country consultant/analyst:

"The mountains were formerly characterized by their inaccessibility and their remoteness, but we've done everything in our power to make them accessible, desirable and even affordable. As we densify the population, they are also becoming more urban, and that we don't like to admit. ...

"I support the ski industry, but if we have no comprehension or regulations or intentions of controlling the spillover effects, I'm not sure we are planning very well for the next generation."

Michael Berry
President, National Ski Areas Association:

"The public expects that their recreation needs on public land will be met, whether it's skiing, backpacking, or even birdwatching, and they have every right to expect it."

Ford Frick
Economist, BBC Research & Consulting:

"We have an enormous construction industry today. We estimated that to build a $650,000 single-family home it takes seven full-time people, or the equivalent, a full year, and probably two or three more off-site at either end of the construction in such jobs as the assessor's office, the planner's office, the architect's office, or the bank. And that's just the construction. More people yet are needed to maintain the vacation homes."

John Fry
Founding editor, Snow Country magazine:

"In the Alps you see some sort of intelligence guiding things, whereas if you travel around much of Colorado you don't see much of any intelligence guiding anything." ...

"A lot of things the environmental movement has pressed for have not always led to desirable results. The people who wanted to contain growth in Aspen, did they really want to have a $1.5 million average home price? And the people who don't want new resorts are getting things like the Vail Valley. Is that what they wanted?"

Bob Caske
Division of Wildlife regional manager:

"If there is any critical lynx habitat in the state, this (Vail expansion area) is it."

Rick Thompson
Consulting biologist for Vail Resorts:

"We don't know squat about lynx in Colorado."

Vail Resorts Inc.
Annual report, 1998:

"A key component of the Company's business strategy has been to expand and enhance its core ski operations while at the same time increasing the scope, diversity and quality of the complementary activities and services offered to its skiing and non-skiing guests throughout the year. This focus has resulted in growth in lift ticket sales and has also allowed the Company to expand its revenue base beyond its core ski operations."

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