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Manitou Incline, private property rights, hunting and fishing, and more



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Down on the Incline

Twenty years ago I used to hike the Barr Trail regularly, mostly on weekdays when I might cross paths with at the most 10 or 15 other hikers. The Incline was an interesting bit of history, the site of the original funicular pre-Cog Railway. The latter seemed to be a polluting, Ruxton Avenue-clogging nuisance. I had no idea that the innocuous Incline would eclipse that nuisance so thoroughly as the years went by.

So, what's wrong with the Incline?

1. It provides only isotonic exercise, as in a weightlifting room, which does not represent the true movement of life.

2. It blocks those who want to climb the Barr Trail from getting close. Not only has parking had to be extended far down Ruxton, but also the trailhead parking lot actually charges to park there.

3. I'm going out on a limb here, but I don't see enjoyment of the surroundings in the equations of those who "do" the incline. Every one of the people I've spoken with considers it a fitness challenge, but I've never heard any mention of the beauty, peace and regeneration that can come from just being out there.

4. I used to think the Barr Trail was a superhighway compared to the various deer trails that crisscross all of Colorado's mountains, but I had no idea what a trail superhighway looked like, or the damage it could cause, until the rise of the Incline. The carbon footprint of all those cars alone not only pollutes the local air, but also takes away from whatever gain Incliners achieve.

5. The Incliners are no longer sharing the area; they've taken over.

If you want a real workout and realize the deep benefits of passing through various ecological systems, hike the Barr Trail.

— Dave Shahan

Colorado Springs

Thanks, Pete

We are writing to thank state Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, for voting to stand up for private property rights. In committee, he voted against a measure that would give oil and gas companies the power of eminent domain — the ability to take property to build fracking pipelines, even against the property owners' wishes. Despite Rep. Lee's leadership in joining a bipartisan group of legislators to oppose this outrageous bill, unfortunately the bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee by the narrowest of margins last week.

Now, the full Colorado House of Representatives will vote on the bill, in the near future. We are hopeful that Rep. Lee and all other legislators in the Pikes Peak region will vote to protect private property rights and against Senate Bill 93 — which would let oil and gas companies condemn your land to build fracking pipelines — when it comes before the full chamber.

Please contact your state representative and urge them to vote as Rep. Lee did last week: "no" on Senate Bill 93. For more information, email:

— Laurel Biedermann of Pikes Peak Alliance for the Future and Sam Schabacker of Food & Water Watch

The 77 percent

The Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC) is a seven-member citizens committee appointed by the Colorado Springs Utilities Board. UPAC develops policy recommendations for consideration by the Utilities Board.

Despite Utilities surveys showing that 77 percent are willing to pay up to 2 percent for more renewable energy, on March 5 UPAC voted to change the current accepted Energy Vision to less than what it's been by adding a new restriction.

This is even more objectionable since CSU just added a 3.5 percent rate increase due to fossil-fuel costs.

How many of us voted to pay more for fossil fuels?

— Bonnie Ann Smith

Colorado Springs

Fishing at Safeway

It is so refreshing to realize that inane and judgmental ditherings can come from people of all walks of life. No longer do I need to go to a far-right publication to get my daily dose of prejudice and stupidity. This will save me a lot of time in my quest to destroy the environment with my Luddite hobbies.

Regarding "Hunting is so yesterday" (Letters, March 12): Safeway, for factory-farmed fish! Why didn't I think of that? So much easier to eat a steak from a feedlot, and so much better for the environment! Maybe I should use my license fees to buy some bottled water. That will help free up the river I used to fish in to water someone's front lawn.

Thanks, Larimore Nicholl, and what else do you recommend, for helping me to a path of arrogance and omniscience?

— Sandy White


Falsehood and innuendo

I'm writing in response to a recent letter rife with naïve falsehoods and disparaging innuendos regarding hunters and hunting ("Hunting is so yesterday"). The most egregious misrepresentations:

"First, it's nearly impossible to find any wilderness anymore." Really? Colorado has 43 separate wilderness areas protecting more than 3.6 million acres along with 345 roadless areas comprising some 4.4 million acres, not to mention 25 national parks/monuments/forests, over 300 state wildlife areas, and eight national wildlife refuges.

"Second, hunting is dangerous." According to the International Hunter Education Association, a group that promotes hunter-safety courses, there were 241 fatal hunting accidents from 2005 through 2009. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that about 12.5 million Americans hunt every year. That works out to a risk rate of about 0.38 fatalities per 100,000 hunters annually, lower than swimming (6.57 drownings per 100,000 swimmers) and bicycling (1.87 fatalities per 100,000 bicyclists).

"Third, it's horribly cruel to shoot defenseless animals." No animal in the wild dies peacefully between starched bed sheets. The hunt, and kill, represents the closing of an ancient circle — the sacrifice of one animal for the survival of another.

"Fourth, you don't really need the meat anymore from hunting or fishing ... Simply go down to your food store and ask the worker there." Civilization is a mechanism that allows us to avoid the necessary but ugly aspects of life, and apparently this gentleman will happily pay good money for dead animals, so long as the animals are killed by proxy executioners and sold in grocery stores.

Nonhunters (or anti-hunters) can indulge in the fantasy that they exist outside the biotic community, and yet, most of them eat meat. Hunters shatter this conceit by participating directly in ecological cycles of life and death.

— David A. Lien

Chairman, Colorado

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

A logical approach

I took notice of a reference in the latest edition of "This Modern World" (Letters, March 12). The cartoon referred to moderates as "ineffective." I believe that moderates are actually the voices of common sense and reasoning. Far too often are clear-thinking people being bombarded with extremist rants from both the left and the right.

A good example is the piece, "Hunting is so yesterday," that was so eloquently presented in the recent edition of the Indy. I'm not a hunter and do not own firearms. I was however amazed at the depth of ignorance and stereotyping prejudice that was spewed forth in that letter.

I believe most hunters and anglers are responsible. I think most of them observe limits and respect the wilderness. Do all of them? No. They're people too. Actually, much of the money from hunting and fishing licenses goes toward conservation efforts.

Let's take a logical look at this issue. Truly, an assault rifle with a 50 clip is not required for successful elk hunting. Also, I'd bet it's not necessary to have an IQ far beyond .005 to realize that the trout at the "food store" didn't manifest themselves there by magic.

I believe anyone with some common sense can do the math here. This logic can be applied to everything from religion, to homeland security and budgeting. Ineffective? Perhaps it's both balanced and realistic.

— Scott Freeman

Manitou Springs

Merrifield's hill

Letter writer Ryan Macoubrie thinks "Herpin's uphill battle" (Letters, March 12) will be a problem for him to retain his Senate seat. Michael Merrifield, the Democrat running for the seat, will have more problems climbing his hill.

Merrifield was the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns in the Colorado 2013 legislative session. Mayor John Tkazyik, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., just dropped out of MAIG, funded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, stating the group wanted "to promote confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens."

This group has pushed to ban semi-auto rifles in many states and backed legislation limiting magazine capacity to 7 bullets in handguns. In New York City they have just banned all rifles that hold over five bullets. I think when the voters find that Michael Merrifield worked for a group that backs this type of legislation he will find that his hill is indeed a very slippery slope.

— Jill Coleman

Colorado Springs

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