By Mike Rosso
The “monsoon” season has arrived, helping to dampen down the landscape and snuff out the recent forest fire. I put “monsoon” in quotations because, when I consider that term, I visualize palm trees battered by tropical winds, violently bending at 90 degree angles. In Colorado, it translates to brief afternoon rainstorms, sometimes, but not always accompanied by thunder and lightning. No, matter – we’ll take it. Moisture is always welcome in our high and dry climate.
One downside of the season is the flooding that is occurring in the Coaldale area as a result of the fire, bringing a second round of misery to some residents of the Pleasant Valley. The ash- and debris-laden sludge is finding its way down the mountains all the way down to the Arkansas River, at times turning it a sickly grey color.
But it is all part of the natural cycle; trees, bugs, fire and floods – inevitable change we witness as mountain dwellers in a part of the country rich with public lands.
These same public lands also offer an abundance of trails, some motorized, some not, with wonderful opportunities to experience the outdoors for those willing to lace up the hiking boots, fill the water bottle and venture forth.
Two articles this month have to do with trails in the region. One is from our newest correspondent, Anthony Guerrero, who reports on the extensive trail system being developed in and around the town of Del Norte in the San Luis Valley.
The other is an update from the intrepid adventurer Tyler Grimes, who provides some background on the 486-mile long Colorado Trail and plans for a new field operations center based in Poncha Springs.
While other communities across the country are building more roads, subdivisions and strip malls, folks in the Central Colorado region are adding to the continuing inventory of trails in nature, to me an undeniable sign of true civilization.
In this issue, we’re also presenting two sides of the issue of Amendment 69, a ballot initiative which would create a state-run, single-payer health care system, the first of its kind in the nation. I’ve not yet made up my mind on this one. I’m one of the lucky ones whose insurance through the Affordable Care Act is just that: affordable. But many of my friends are paying heavy premiums with the threat of penalties otherwise, helping to subsidize those of us whose annual income is below the median.
One red flag on the anti side of the amendment is the amount of money out-of-state insurance and pharmaceutical companies are investing to see it defeated. Given their records as regards consumers of health care, I’m suspect of their motivations. The profit-driven health system has been great for the bottom line of those in the industry but not so great for consumers who walk the tightrope between good health and total bankruptcy.
Right now Amendment 69 is facing a stiff headwind and is likely to be defeated in November, but the doors have now been open for us to have the conversation about state-run, single-payer systems and other alternatives to the billion dollar, for-profit health care system we have in this country.
On a final note, we ran an article last month on the proposed Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico, and wanted to offer some corrections to that piece:
First, the Rio Grande Conservation District is remaining neutral to the proposal and their board is not adamantly opposed to the expansion. Also, Conejos Clean Water should have been identified as CCW, not CCC. Also, the CCW was founded in 2010 in response to the threat of nuclear waste being transported/transferred along the river, not in the river. Lastly, Rep. Ed Vigil is the only elected official who has been very vocal in lending support to the monument.
Thanks for reading!