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De-treeing city parks, the Maketa saga, PERA, and more



For the trees

The Indy's article a few weeks back pretty much gave City Forestry a free ride in its campaign to rid the parks of non-native trees ("Forest, meet trees," News, April 16). Dennis Will claimed 95 percent of the feedback about this campaign has been positive. I don't know who he's been talking to, but every regular park user we've spoken to is dismayed about what Forestry is doing. Isn't this exactly what developers would love to see happen — large portions of the park de-treed at taxpayer cost?

This is especially true of Sondermann Park, better known as Beidleman. Forestry came in and largely de-treed the entire southern half of the park this past fall, cutting down over 100 large Siberian elms that had provided greenery and shade in summer and color every autumn. That part of the park is now a barren, ugly expanse of weeds, mud and wood chips — all because, we were told by Forestry workers, that the elms ("trash trees") aren't native.

Look at pictures of Colorado Springs at the time of its founding in the early 1870s. You'll see an arid, treeless expanse, with the exception of occasional scrub oak. NO trees (other than pines in the foothills) are "native" to this area.

The one million bucks Forestry was awarded to rid the parks of non-native trees is a funding bonanza that justifies their existence and provides a big spike in man hours, but it's NOT improving or beautifying the parks.

A good 90 percent of regular park users would vastly prefer for Forestry to just leave the parks alone.

— Bob Campbell and Terry Gretsky

Colorado Springs

Editor's note: According to Staff Forester Dennis Will, about 100 elms were removed from Sondermann Park last October; 95 percent were already dead from drought stress. The park used to have a canal where the elms grew, but the canal has been out of use for a long time. The trees had become a danger to people because they tend to drop large branches.

Maketa flashback

Congratulations to Pam Zubeck for her enlightening article, "Cock of the Walk" (cover story, June 11). Pam has been on the forefront of the Maketa Fiasco for years. Wouldn't it have been great if county commissioners had checked out her March 2010 allegations in "Star Treatment"? Think of all the pain our county might have been spared if such an investigation had been done.

We also appreciate the work of Rebecca Duran ("Marching on Maketa," Letters, June 11) and others who have begun protests and recall efforts. Perhaps something will reach that man and get him to step down. We can only hope.

— Charlie and Patti Hess

Colorado Springs

Just pay up

I am concerned about the tax money the City of Colorado Springs is losing in interest payments and legal fees by wrongly refusing to pay PERA the money that is rightfully owed in the case regarding Memorial Hospital. The judge hired in the case ruled in PERA's favor. The city needs to get on with paying PERA what it rightfully owes and stop wasting our money in further efforts to delay the inevitable by continuing any further, fruitless efforts at litigation. Stop wasting our money and do the honorable thing!

— Suzanne Kemp

Colorado Springs

Doggy havens

The new "trail patrols" have been receiving a great deal of attention. Humane Society officers on bicycles are now writing tickets when dogs are off-leash. Trails and Open Space has publicized the new program to alert members. We have not taken an official position on the program, but will tell you most member comments favor enforcement of the city's and county's leash rules. The good news: We have eight dog parks/off-leash areas within the county. You can find a list on our website at

— Susan Davies

Trails and Open Space Coalition

Just an observation

Sometimes the NRA sounds like a spokesperson for a drug cartel.

— Brien Whisman

Colorado Springs

Meat-industry pollution

I am delighted that the Environmental Protection Agency has finally moved to abate the disastrous impacts of climate change by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants ("Carbon rule comes home," Noted, June 4). But given the adverse reaction from the coal industry, the agency should have issued parallel regulations on emissions from meat industry operations. Each state could then determine its own optimal strategy for curbing greenhouse gases.

A 2006 United Nations report estimated that meat production accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that the contribution may be closer to 50 percent.

The meat industry generates carbon dioxide by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport and slaughter animals. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal-waste cesspools, respectively.

In the meantime, each of us can reduce the devastating effects of climate change every time we eat. Our local supermarket offers a rich variety of plant-based lunch meats, hot dogs, veggie burgers and dairy product alternatives, as well as ample selections of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. Product lists, easy recipes and transition tips are readily available online.

— Claus Singer

Colorado Springs

Congrats, Manitou

Leave it to little ole Manitou Springs to save the day when it comes to tourism dollars. Manitou's elected officials have risen above Colorado Springs' misinformed and value-judged decision on marijuana.

Kudos to you brave officials; I'm sure it was a difficult decision. With your decision comes a common-sense approach to a plant that can treat everything from diarrhea to post-traumatic stress disorder and has for thousands of years.

It is unfortunate that others deem this substance more dangerous than any other narcotic which is freely available. Vicodin and vodka are accepted, and marijuana is not. Please. It is past time for local, state and federal governments to stop force-feeding Their Values to others. Oh, but "the schools, our children," "leads to stronger drugs," "no studies or research" ... Shut up, let adults make their own decision.

I would love to see a day when our veterans, professional athletes, mentally ill and others can find the relief and comfort that this drug offers. It is unacceptable to me that at least veterans can't be prescribed this drug for a multitude of ailments. The current drugs are effective for some things, and marijuana is effective for other things.

I believe Manitou Springs will have record receipts this summer, and their streets will be overflowing with people. Congratulations on a job well done.

Get ready for the buses from the Springs.

— Mark Minerich

Colorado Springs

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