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Backcountry fumes and fuming

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Many conservation advocates believe Tri-State has done too little to encourage reduction in demand, by such things as encouraging use of compact fluorescent and other, more extensive technology-based methods. But Jim Barron, a Gunnison resident, compared the light bulbs to “using a Band-Aid to treat cancer.”

 

Town looking for spare change

TELLURIDE, Colo. – March may be a busy time in most ski towns, but activity is even more frantic this year in Telluride. On Feb. 21, a jury ruled that the 570-acre parcel at the town’s entrance is worth $50 million if the town intends to proceed with its condemnation, and the deadline for paying the piper is imminent.

Town residents have voted by large margins three times since 1993 to insist upon open space. Last year they rejected a compromise that would have permitted 24 large houses, as well as some affordable housing, with the remaining 91 per cent of the land in open space.

While $26 million is available from the town treasury, another $24 million is needed in private donations As of early March, $13 million had been raised, with $11 million to go, reports The Telluride Watch.

The deadline is mid-March, which town attorneys are trying to get extended to May 21. Attorneys for the landowner, the San Miguel Valley Corporation, which is essentially owned by Neal Blue, dismiss this legal manoeuvring as nothing more than stalling.

The case appears to have widened the cleavage between two camps in the Telluride area. One side is argued by Seth Cagin, publisher of the Telluride Watch, who claims that the rejection of the compromise measure amounts to environmental fundamentalism run amok. Telluride, he says, needs the land more for housing its work force than for open space preservation.

Loudly disagreeing with Cagin is Phil Miller, a retired Forest Service employee who moved to Telluride many years ago. Even with the affordable housing, the addition of the monstrously big homes is a net loss for Telluride, he argues, because of the additional employees needed to service homes of 10,000 feet and more.

“We aren’t elitist playboys and playgirls,” he says. “We just want to preserve the uniqueness of our town besides preventing our narrow little valley from becoming an exhaust-filled urban cancer with no room for the deer, elk, coyotes, prairie dogs, and easels we often see here.”

His son, Bryan, believes Cagin’s argument is that “because Telluride has become a wealthy community, we should no longer care about preserving the natural beauty that surrounds us.” That, he insists, is a fundamental misrepresentation of the story.