Thursday, October 6, 2011
I am writing to you from France to voice my opposition to the oil drilling plans submitted to the Routt County Board of Commissioners. Before returning to Europe, I lived many years in the rural area west of Steamboat. In fact, I bought and developed five 35-acre parcels at Saddle Mountain Ranchettes.
In 1996, that area was rough, untamed Wild West. No roads, no water, no electric, no fences, nobody. Undisturbed vegetation, breathtaking views and plenty of wildlife. I loved it. When I decided to build a house on Lots 12 and 13, I was confronted with numerous obstacles and substantial financial risks: road access, electric line, water, etc. I had no doubt about the rewards for my undertaking the project, as I would be privileged to live off the beaten path in nature’s forgotten rugged hideaway.
Years later, I sold my home and moved on. In a twist of fate, recently, I had the opportunity to buy my old house back. I have been so excited these past days to return to the valley that I miss so much. We were to close on the deal at the end of the month. With disbelief, I hear the news that some rapacious neighbor at Saddle Mountain Ranchettes has applied for an oil drilling permit, and the Routt County commissioners appear to seriously be considering granting the permit. Apart from the irreparable environmental impact, apart from the aesthetics, apart from the chaos, etc., I wonder about one fundamental question: Who will ever trust Steamboat to buy there again?
How can you be sure that the gorgeous piece of Colorado that you are acquiring today is not converted into a gravel pit, water-treatment plant, oil field or wind park tomorrow? You need to be able to have faith in local government to preserve nature’s endowments, quintessential for the continued growth of the area. It is revenue, short-sighted financial gain and greed again that is the root of this absurd plan, isn’t it? What else could it be? I am deeply troubled by this news. I won’t be part of this. I’d be foolish to invest in a country retreat on land that is subject to oil speculation.