Why blame $6-an-hour people for the woes of the West?

Letter from Lisa Dolby

Rural life – May 1996 – Colorado Central Magazine

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Quillen,

I was particularly infuriated by an article by Mary Chapman that appeared in your March issue of Colorado Central. She and the other soul-suckin’ capitalistic snobs like her are the very reason why federal lands should not be privatized. If these pseudo-environmentalists can’t sustain themselves on rural livelihoods in the manner in which they are accustomed, what are they doing here and why are they blaming people who make $6 – $8 an hour for their economic problems?

I hate to inform these self-absorbed space cadets, but a vision for the rural west was established a long time ago by people who are willing to sacrifice personal economic gain in order to preserve open space and wilderness for those renewable economic opportunities included with ranching, tourism, and wildlife preservation.

If this bunch of invaders isn’t satisfied with the size of their incomes and aren’t content to stick with the tourism-ranching-open space vision that has already been established by the majority of the voters who live here, then I have this suggestion for them. Folks, there is a vast wildlife preserve where you can go and make mega-incomes and the place is teeming with wildlife of the white collar variety. It’s called the corporate wildlife preserve and it’s located in a concrete jungle near you, and I suggest you all go there!

If newcomers have a thing for light industry, why don’t they bring their own small scale enterprises with them when they move here? Last time I checked, our community didn’t have a problem with small scale light manufacturing as long as people stick with the vision that has already been established. Salvage lumbering is great as long as it is kept small scale and as long as it is legitimate forest pruning. Len Lankford of Westcliffe is an expert on this type of operation. Il Vicino has the right idea with their small scale micro-brewery operation. Or any enterprise to help promote local fine art would be great.

Another thing I can’t understand is the baby boomer’s hang-up on mining. Minerals are a non-renewable resource. Once you dig it all up, a lot of people are out of a job, the environment is rendered a total wreck, and the area is no longer even fit for tourism. This type of economic short sightedness is scaring the daylights out of me, and the quality of life has been destroyed in many areas of the country because of too much growth and development and economic irresponsibility, and that’s why many are fleeing those areas. But if the same thing is allowed to happen in the Rocky Mountain states, there won’t be anyplace left to run.

I think encroaching on federal lands in order to cash in on non-renewable natural resources is a stupid idea that cheats future generations. I say, the best way to be a steward of the land and preserve wilderness is for humans to stick with renewable economic opportunities that fit in with the ranching-tourism-open space vision and to stay off the land unless they are here to sit back and admire it and forget about their wallets for awhile!

Also, I think certain powers that be have every intention of damming the Arkansas in order to provide water for a future megametropolis in the Colorado Springs area. How much of the rail corridor would end up under water if this was the case? If it is, then the only alternatives left for the line would be to lend the land to adjoining land owners or convert it to a “rail trail” unless enough people would be willing to invest in re-routing the line for tourism and commuter purposes.

Lisa Dolby

Poncha Springs