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Dear Editor,

I believe that we are blessed to live in such a wonderful place. Many of us that live in such a wonderful place feel an obligation to guide growth in such a manner as to protect the very reasons, including our natural resources, that we moved here to enjoy.

I have been involved with Envision Chaffee County from the beginning – proudly so. Envision Chaffee County has continuously emphasized transparency and inclusion in all of our discussions. I welcome dissenting views, and welcome the opportunity to discuss any concerns that anyone may have with the Chaffee Rec Plan, proposed by Envision Chaffee County. It is the open discussion of the Plan that ensure that everyone’s input is recognized, and also ensures the plan is the best that it can be.

I, like many others, moved to Central Colorado for a multitude of reasons. One of our primary reasons is the abundance of natural resources, including wildlife. Having lived in Central Colorado for over a decade now, it is apparent that development and visitation are up, while wildlife has become increasing scarce in many of the areas that they have consistently frequented in the past. To assume that there is no correlation between these trends seems irresponsible at best.

Dr. Rob Ramey has his own opinions as to how we should manage our natural resources here in Chaffee County. Ramey cherry-picks facts to support his arguments – at one point acknowledging that hunters impact wildlife behavior; yet also claiming that other human activities (including helicopter flights near raptor nests) have not been proven to have detrimental affects on wildlife populations.

Ramey also conveniently ignores that Envision Chaffee County has gone out of its way to collect facts from multiple sources – including our wildlife and natural resource agencies, and multiple surveys of locals – to propose fact-based projects. In fact, the Chaffee Rec Plan includes provisions to monitor and refine these projects, based upon real-world results, as these projects are implemented.

It is very sad, and in fact incomprehensible to me, that anyone would object to Envision Chaffee County, or local residents, providing input into how our national resources should be managed. Our agencies actually include local input as part of their decision-making process. We have the right – neigh, the responsibility – to ensure that our natural resources are managed in a sustainable manner today, and for future generations.

While I do not expect all of us to agree on everything, I do believe that we can all agree that we live in a special place, and it makes sense for us to work to keep the reasons we love our area intact for ourselves and future generations. It would be wonderful if we are able to work towards these worthwhile goals – together.

Chuck Azzopardi