January 2010

Quality of life requires water and open space

By Galen Larson

Happy New Year, Montezuma County. The country and the state are in dire straits. But we here can with ingenuity and unity still stand a good chance of making lemonade.

By that statement you may think I’m saying Montezuma County is a lemon. With the past leadership and a few greedy people we could become one, but that is not all bad. Lemons are a very versatile fruit that makes a cool healthful drink to refresh the body on a hot day. Lemons prevented scurvy on sailing ships of the past. They have a refreshing smell and are used in many delicious dishes.

Like lemons, the resources of our county can be utilized in many ways. Doing so takes many recipes (ideas) from a lot of different people, not just a few, and not always the same old cooks or you wind up with some tasteless hash.

It is about time we try something different that seems to have worked in the past and change the mindset here from “can’t do” to “can do.” We have the resources, now all we have to do is come together and work as a team.

Agriculture and education remain the two most promising and sustainable economic engines we have. If you think this is a beautiful area now, just envision it covered by small prosperous farms and greenhouses. Not only would we help our overall economy, we would enhance the area.

Our county commissioners constantly make a big thing about how much oil and gas contribute to the coffers of Montezuma County. However, I have a different perspective, as you can imagine: The energy companies are carpetbaggers. The oil and gas executives care not about the county and its people. They come in, remove the largest part of the wealth of the county and leave a pittance for the amount of damage they do, all because of a cadre of non-thinkers with an “I want it now” mentality.

To sustain a civilized society there is an absolute need for open space and water, without which society perishes. We here on the Western Slope had best get our rear in gear and put pressure on all elected officials to protect our water sources.

Remember, water flows to money: Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and here in our own state, Denver and the Front Range. They have shut off the wells of farmers in their areas and grabbed the Arkansas River water and are now coming after ours.

Mark Twain could not have been righter when he said, “Whisky’s for drinking and water’s for fighting.”

The last four or five years were an experiment by the corporations as to what they could get the public to pay for water by the ounce. Coca-Cola, Pepsi and T. Boone Pickens are heavily invested in water around the world. If you think we are a slave to fossil fuels, just wait till the majority of water is owned by just a few. The corporate masters then won’t have to spend money enticing us to purchase unhealthy sugar-saturated drinks. They can, without great expense and no enhancement, sell us bottled water for more than they get now for carbonated liquid sugar.

Denver is growing like gangrene on its resources (and some from others) to enhance the gerbil wheel of growth. We here on the Western Slope would be well advised not to follow in their path.

Let’s start cataloguing our precious resources and using them sparingly. Let’s talk about sustainability instead of constant, bloated growth that sucks the resources away from other places.

And, remember, oil and gas development takes water — a lot of it.

Woeful waste makes woeful wants. Secure our water, preserve our open space, get a handle on growth. Land and water are our only wealth.

A thought for the day:

Those that are greedy wind up being the needy.

So put your trust in God. He gave us water and sod.

Galen Larson writes from rural Montezuma County, Colo.