How Silt happens

Letter from Bruce A. Collins

Growth – October 1996 – Colorado Central Magazine

How Silt Happens

(After he read about Salida’s adventures with a proposed comprehensive master plan, Bruce Collins sent this letter about how plans have developed on the Western Slope.)


I went to a public meeting in Silt one night concerning the proposed annexation of a monster development (1,400 units, estimated ultimate population between 4,000 and 6,000, quadruple to sextuple the current size of incorporated Silt). The proposed development is now 1,600 acres of irrigated hay and alfalfa meadow.

I had no standing since I don’t live in Silt, but I will look out on this gorgeous assemblage of fine homes. “Stillwater Ranch” borders my 10 acres of sagebrush and cactus, although right across from me will be “natural” green space (complete with paved trails and low-intensity lighting). About 59% will be green space, claimed to be the most of any similar development in Colorado…of course that includes two 18-hole golf courses.

I didn’t stay for the whole meeting, just until others had said most of what I would have said, had I been so inclined (although it doesn’t scare me, I’m not much of a public speaker; I prefer talking to rocks, mountain lions, and such).

But it was fascinating to watch speaker after speaker, town residents and those from the county, like me, express opposition, anger, even outrage (one woman rancher declared the name Stillwater Ranch an insult to every rancher in the valley) to a town board that just last February accepted a Comprehensive Plan based on maintaining Silt’s small-town atmosphere in rural surroundings. The town board sat there stone-faced but with big dollar signs in their eyes.

And best is the constant beating of the usual drum…this is in the best interest of Silt, growth is inevitable, it might as well be carefully planned (believe me, it is!), etc. etc.

Not mentioned, of course (but brought up several times at the meeting), were the facts that in 10-15 years Stillwater Ranch will be able to outvote “Old Silt” on every issue and candidate, and that in fact “Old Silt” will cease to exist (and in my estimation within 15 years be renamed Stillwater).

There is a popular bumper sticker here, “Silt Happens,” an obvious play on that other one common a few years back; I suspect in 10 years or less, if this disaster is approved, we’ll have another one, far less humorous: “Stillwater Happened.”

Development in rural Colorado is inevitable, and I am not one who wants to slam the door now that I have my little piece of paradise.

But the Stillwater Ranch type of developments are not needed, let alone necessary. They are of the “build it and they will come” variety. Without these monstrosities people can come here and decide if they like it (an amazing number don’t — “I had no idea you had winter here!”). Then those who want to, can buy or build at a much slower, more deliberate pace, a reflection of need rather than greed.

How long are we going to persist in our determined efforts to destroy what we all live here for?

Bruce A. Collins Silt, Colo.