It’s not too late to save valued parts of Grand County |

It’s not too late to save valued parts of Grand County

The growth that changed so many communities across Colorado has yet to reach Grand County.

Our towns are still small. Our hillsides are not a ladder of condos as far as the eye can see. Our roads are not congested at all times of the year.

And our open spaces in many parts of the county are still open.

But change has already begun. Talk to any long time resident (as we did last Friday in part 1 of the “Already Gone” series) you will learn that Grand County is not what it was even five years ago.

But just as our water is trickling away to feed the growth elsewhere, so could so much more slip through our fingers if we do not make the effort to hold on to the things we value.

If we cannot hold onto our water, we need to fight to make sure the water that we lose is taken at an environmentally safe rate in a way that does not kill the fish in our rivers.

If we know we will lose some of our views to development, we can make sure we do not lose all of them by focusing on those areas that are most important to us.

If we do not want to lose our sense of community to the bustle of a busier place, we must make a conscious effort to stay involved, to reach out to our neighbors and to keep the fear and politics of growth from dividing us.

All of the things that are worth saving in Grand County, can be saved through community efforts like those of the Middle Park Land Trust and the County Master Plan currently in progress. But those efforts alone will be worthless if we do not take responsibility for this place as individuals.

We want a health economy. We want there to be jobs and cultural activities. But as we make our choices to achieve those things, we must balance economic interest with awareness of the reason people visit this place and the reason many of us have stayed.

We are never going to save everything. But if we prioritize, we can save some things.

Next week, in the third and last piece of the “Already Gone?” series, we will take a look at the neighboring community of Steamboat Springs.

Through a concerted, long-term effort of the several government entities and private individuals, they were able to save ranch land, riverfront property and large parcels of land for recreation.

If you’ve been to Steamboat lately, you know they saved those places just in time.

If there are places in this county that you value, be sure your voice is heard.

There are organizations at work to preserve our natural and cultural resources.

Among them are the Middle Park Land Trust, Trout Unlimited, the Grand County Historical Association, Friends of the Fraser River, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Riparian Association and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Depending on your interests, there are ways to get involved.

Grand County still has a window to control the look and feel of its own future. As we can see from our neighboring mountain communities, that window of opportunity doesn’t stay open forever.

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