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Commissioners must remain vigilant

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Dear Editor:

A most sincere and heartfelt "Thank you!" to the Delta County Commissioners and staff for their support of withdrawal of the public lands surrounding the North Fork Valley from future oil and gas development. Thank you for listening to our concerns and for being an active participant in crafting a solution that works for this community.

We, the wineries of the West Elks American Viticultural Area, are just a week away from our seventh annual "Wine Trails" weekend which draws visitors to the county from all over the region and the Front Range. In the same time frame Hotchkiss will host the ever-popular Delta County Fair and Rodeo, a true rural county fair that celebrates the depth and breadth of our agricultural heritage.

Just a month ago the 2,000 cyclists of Ride The Rockies, and their support crews, hailing from all over the country, spent a night in Hotchkiss, always one of their most popular stops, and RtR donated $5,000 to the Conservation Center in honor of its children's environmental education program. And just last weekend the annual BMW motorcycle rally took over Paonia.

This is just a sampling from one summer month in the North Fork. Add to that the individuals enjoying angling, hunting, trail riding, boating, hiking, climbing, skiing and snowmobiling and you get a fuller picture of the ways folks celebrate the out-of-doors here in the North Fork. They don't come here to enjoy industrial development and lines of fracking trucks on our roads!

Over the last three years we spoke to our county commissioners of how we felt these activities, our whole way of life, would be threatened by wholesale oil and gas development; thank you for showing respect and taking seriously our concerns. Let's work together to assure that our congressional delegation and the federal agencies follow through and make this withdrawal a reality.

Going forward, we recognize that substantial oil and gas development is virtually inevitable in the headwaters of the North Fork. We are not happy about this: The North Fork is our lifeblood.

Mountain airs, as well as waters, flow into our valley supporting our organic agriculture as well as our recreational enterprises. We rely on the clarity of these resources and know it has the potential to be degraded as industrial development proceeds up-slope. Please stay the course and, with us, demand minimal development and the highest safety standards in the industry.

Wink Davis
Mesa Winds
Farm & Winery
Hotchkiss



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