by Charlie Kerr, Grand Junction
While the Colorado legislature this spring debated two bills as first steps toward the transfer of control over federal lands to the state, I had the pleasure of driving over 1,000 miles across Texas, from El Paso to Beaumont, where I have seen Colorado’s future, if short sighted politicians in our fine state succeed in their efforts to obtain state control over federal land.
Texas seems to have what these politicians seek: tax paying, privately owned, fenced land — from locked gate to locked gate — for hundreds of miles in every direction. Much of this land has been so overgrazed that it no longer supports cattle or goat operations. This depleted landscape challenges the sometimes popular notion that local control and private land ownership provides better use and land management than the federal government.
Near Junction, Texas, there is an amazing natural wonder where hundreds of springs emerge from a 150-foot limestone cliff, forming a half-mile, lake-like, wide spot in the Llano River. It was my good fortune to be nearby on the one day a year that Seven Hundred Springs Ranch generously opens this natural phenomenon to public viewing. The rest of the year this property is well-managed for private parties and hunters.
No BLM or USFS regulations or travel management problems here. Private ownership rules.
Wouldn’t you like someone besides the feds to own Hanging Lake above Glenwood Springs, fence and gate it, charge admission, and pay taxes? Probably not. That half the Western Slope of Colorado belongs to the American people and is managed by federal agencies is an historic gift that we should cherish.