An open letter to Rep. Doug Lamborn
I must address your comments that your representative read to a large crowd at the Salida Steam Plant on Dec. 6, as well as your subsequent Guest Opinion in the Mountain Mail on Dec. 8, 2014.
Your words were not well received by the crowd of over 600 people attending the hearing. While over 60 people spoke in favor of the monument designation, a mere handful spoke against it. I was on the panel which represented both sides and heard Senator Udall’s request to make sure everyone who opposed the monument had a chance to speak. I think they did. Your continued complaint about “lack of consensus” seems to extend to yourself and one of our county commissioners, while the overwhelming majority of Salida and Chaffee County seem to be solidly behind the idea. We support that there will be no changes in permitted uses including grazing rights, water rights and hunting. I was in a public meeting you conducted here in Salida where you made the comment that public lands should exist solely for resource extraction. I know that stance pleases your donors and the Tea Party but the people of your district deserve more. That position is unconscionable and you will not be successful. These lands mean far too much to us.
Your rigid and unsupported stance on this issue, and the fact that no congressional consensus can exist without you, necessitate a presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act to get this done. Your claim that this path is “an abuse of executive privilege” is laughable. Since the inception of the act in 1906, it has been used over 100 times by 16 different presidents to protect public lands as diverse as the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty. The dysfunctional congress to which you belong can not find its way clear to conduct the business of our country unless that involves repeated attempts to overturn the law of the land that was upheld by the Supreme Court, or sue and impeach the president. It is, therefore, unlikely the House will pay proper attention, under your guidance, to this cherished little piece of Colorado. The congressional path would give you exactly what you personally desire, to prevent the permanent protection of Browns Canyon. Thanks for the offer, but no thanks.
You claim that there has not been an equal opportunity for supporters and dissenters to voice their concerns. Should we spend another 14 years, as we have up to this point, to see if you will finally open your ears to those you claim to represent, to see if someone comes up with something that has not already been discussed repeatedly? I know we occupy the sparsely populated end of your district, but don’t we deserve to be represented, our voices heard in congress, our needs and desires considered? If you honestly believe that there is not overwhelming support in Chaffee County for National Monument status for Browns Canyon, it can only be because you are not and have not been open to all the people of your district. Had you come to see for yourself you would have seen posters of support in nearly every business in town and a sea of green “I support Browns Canyon” stickers. You do not seem to be involved or concerned with us except to try to prevent this gift of a national monument. Your narrow, rigid stance on this matter serves your special interests quite well, but it in no way represents the best path forward for the people of Chaffee County, Colorado and the United States.