Sunday, April 15, 2012

Colorado State Democratic Convention ~ (side two) The Memes Courier

The Memes Courier, April 14th, side two . . .

Red McCombs’ Alberta Park Poker Game, Texas Style
{a 777 word review}
{Plus, the RGNF mandated to take Climate Change into consideration.} 
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Let me tell you a sad saga of a man named Red. It was back in the 80s when Red purchased some private land within the Saguache Ranger District of the Rio Grande National Forest. It was nice land; land the US Forest Service had been eyeing for some time and Red had a plan.
With those chips in hand, Red saddled up to the USFS table proposing to trade his coveted Saguache District chips for an incredible parcel smack in the middle of the high country. But, in 1986 after due process Red’s proposal was rejected by RGNF officials.

Following protocol, the RGNF sent the official rejection papers through the (Reagan era) USDA, where the trade was miraculously reborn, then returned to RGNF with a thumbs up and Red McCombs received the Title.
Amazingly, RGNF officials are unable to produce a record of how that reversal actually occurred. Apparently, since it’s past the Statute of Limitations no one seems interested in learning about it.
Well I’m interested, so March 15th I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the paper trail of what transpired between the RGNF’s rejection and McCombs receiving Title. I’ll keep folks informed as my journey of discovery progresses at -
In those early days McCombs spoke of a low-key development, perhaps 200 housing units in harmony with the unique nearby Wolf Creek Ski Area. That changed when Bob Honts, Red’s partner, unveiled plans for a luxury vacation village for ten thousand people.  The problem was {actually, only one of many}, the parcel is landlocked with one seasonal dirt road as access and it crosses National Forest land. McCombs spent a decade trying to gain access; but caught in shady backroom dealings, losing a significant court battle, then settling out of court on another, he found himself back at first base with nothing to show but intentions.
Ever resourceful, McCombs wants a new hand: 204 acres with highway frontage for 178 acres of his next to impossible to develop land.
First he tried to enlist our local Congressman to bypass U.S. Forest Service “red tape” - that plan sputtered for a while then died.
So Red settled for traditional RGNF channels, which require an Environmental Impact Study. Begun in the spring of 2011, officials hoped the preliminary draft would be released by late December or January. We’re into April and the Forest Service continues to be vague on a release date. Officials cite an interest in thoroughness, although some point out McCombs’ team is slow in returning requested information and perhaps being less than helpful.
What's going on here? Has McCombs and his team realized that “The Village at Wolf Creek” is a lost cause? Are they scrambling to develop an exit strategy? Perhaps using the cover of acquiring highway frontage to facilitate a revised friendlier village - while actually refocusing on genuine real-estate gold? Finagle the land trade, sell out to the highest bidder, then git outta Dodge? Good poker move and even US Forest Service officials acknowledge that McCombs would be fully within his rights to pursue such a strategy.
But! What about Alberta Park or that Rio Grande River watershed? What about the wildlife that’s being corned into smaller and smaller patches of land? What about the coming drying of the Southwest? Isn't Alberta Park quite a productive and valuable biological resource as it is?
What about the public’s interests? Is all of this nothing more than a real estate poker game for a politician owning billionaire? Who knows? The cynic would say damned straight it is. The optimist would say the US Forest Service listens to our concerns and has the public interest at heart. We will see.
Now, here’s the important part, we are arriving at a critical crossroads. When the RGNF releases their preliminary draft EIS, there will be a short comment period. We The People will be legal participants in advising the Rio Grande National Forest decision makers.
After years of being confined to spectator status, we get to speak up and the-powers-that-be must listen to rational presentations of the dangers and arguments for why McCombs’ land swap needs to be refused outright.
Alberta Park is a piece of biosphere; it can’t defend itself. It needs concerned citizens who, depending upon their own expertise, can do a little research.
Please become informed and send some rational, polite letters to the Rio Grande National Forest decision makers explaining why McCombs’ trade proposal should be rejected outright and why a way should be found to revert Alberta Park back to the Rio Grande National Forest… protected for future generations.

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The US Forest Service has been mandated to take the reality of our rapidly changing climate into consideration:

The Forest Service Mission is to “Sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

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Climate change is expected to have pronounced ecological consequences in forested ecosystems. Projected impacts encompass a broad range of effects: the evolution of novel plant associations, shifts in the spatial distribution of tree species, redistribution of populations adapted to local climates, and in site index. Several studies, in fact, have been unanimous in predicting widespread disruption of native ecosystems from the change in climate being portrayed by numerous General Circulation Models.” (Crookston and others (2010, p. 1198))

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Future Climate Conditions
Another real life issue that has, so far, been getting ignored by all the parties is that environmental conditions are entering a period of serious transition thanks to our collective inaction in addressing society’s excessive injection of Greenhouse Gases into our atmosphere.   

Study after study indicates the Southwest will be entering periods of drought unlike any modern society has experienced. Going forward with bulldozing a pristine high country watershed shows an appalling amount of willful ignorance towards these down to Earth realities.   

Here are a few of the many studies supporting this assessment:

* Study: US drought risk to increase with climate change                           
 * Permanent Drought in the Southwestern U.S. ~ Prepared by Steven Schafersman, PhD     
A review of 3 studies  ~   
* Pacific and Atlantic Ocean influences on multidecadal drought frequency in the U.S.                                         
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While there are still plenty of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) denialists a close examination of their arguments consistently show a tactical disregard for the full spectrum of science and Earth Observation.  

Instead they present fictitious-science where facts are omitted or distorted to suit.  Thus it is critical we stop entertaining the small gang of usually over-the-hill “skeptical” non-climate scientists and engineers with ideological axes to grind. –

When we should be listening to actual Climatologists, people who are doing the real scientific work in this field, as opposed to armchair nitpicking misdirection intent on spreading confusion rather than learning. 

An excellent source for basic AGW education is 

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