Letters to the editor – save our honey bees – estes park trail-gazette 10 ethanol gas problems


My husband and I moved to Estes Park last July. Our impetus for moving included the story of our honey bee hives. One my husband’s friends inquired about setting a hive on our property. Having planted a variety of hundreds of bushes offered by the Greeley Soil Conservation, the property was eager to supply the honey bees. We eagerly looked forward to the additional pollination for our organic gardens and our fascination with them led us to establishing our own hives. It is hard to describe the thrill of catching swarms for ourselves and others. "Swarm! Suit up!" The swarms typically can be captured between 30 minutes and a few hours. Honey, at the end of the season, was a sweet bonus.

One lovely summer afternoon, we let down to rest and absorb the chorus of birds. In an instant the paradigm of beauty changed to horror as a toxic smell of herbicides enveloped our paradise. The empty 5 acre property east of us was spraying herbicides into the air with a rotary sprayer pulled by an ATV rather than being applied close to the ground. I flew over to ask why they were doing this with an east wind of over 20MPH. "Well," he said, "that this was his day off to do it."

We went into overdrive tearing through the house to shut the windows, take my laundry off the clothes line and finally closing the barn door to keep some of the spray from the horses. Yes, but what about the chickens and, oh dear God, the bee hives! Oh wait, I have organic gardens, fruit trees and bushes. The birds, knowing the danger, left in haste taking their songs with them.

I called the Police. No rules against it, sorry. We could not go into our yard for weeks. The morning dew amplified the odor fresh as the first spraying. Weeks later, 2 of our 3 hives were empty. Did they listen to the bird’s advice? We should have gone too. We did, later.

Sometimes a few applications will need to be made. Dry weather application is best. Careful to not get on flowers or grass as it will kill them also. It is very acidic so caution on hands as it will burn. Eye contact also will cause irritation and lung inhalation can burn the lungs. Wear a mask, gloves and eye protection.

With the push to rezone property and then develop high-density housing in Estes Park to appeal to the year-round worker with a family, I have to wonder: Is having a 10 minute commute to work in Estes Park a realistic focus for this community? Will building high density housing complexes of up to three story apartments/condos in single-family home neighborhoods really accomplish the goal of the community—increasing the number of young families who live here? Will nurses, teachers, police, plumbers, electricians, and waitresses, to name a few workers, want to raise their families for the long-haul in these high-density three-story apartment complexes? Once built, who guarantees that this housing remains for Estes Park workers?

I do empathize with the worker who has an extensive commute. Until recently, I was one of them. I am a retired nurse who had at least a 45 minute commute most of my work life. Ten years of that time I drove from Estes Park to Denver. Commuting was a fact of life for me as it is for many people in Colorado.

Living in high-density apartment housing was also a fact of life for me for a number of years. However, I saw living in such a short-term matter….I wanted to live in a single-family home. I dare say that many people eventually want to raise their families in a single-family home.

So now, my husband and I live in a single-family home in Estes Park. Our house is in a neighborhood that is quiet with hardly any car traffic except for the elk and deer that freely roam the area. The possibility that part of this neighborhood could be rezoned to high-density housing never entered my mind.

It has now. There is a proposal to rezone the area behind the Twin Owls Motel to high density housing which may be part of the push to build 3 story workforce housing units. This is a part of my neighborhood and I do not want to see this rezoning happen for all the reasons that originally motivated me to buy my property—privacy, little traffic, wild animals, and beautiful scenery.

Again, I ask you: Will year round workers with families be interested in living most of their lives in high density apartment complexes in Estes Park? Knowing the answer to this question is critical. Otherwise, rezoning the single-family home neighborhood that is home to current or retired workers and the rabid code modification, rezoning, and building will sadly be for naught. Should having a 10 minute commute to work in Estes Park be such a major focus for our community?

Otie’s Trail is a historic Estes Park trail that connects from the Safeway gas station – formerly the site of Otis Whiteside’s stables – through Stanley Heights to the Lumpy Ridge trailhead. A part of it goes through my family’s property; I watched the riders go by when I was maybe nine.

There is another landowner in the area whose property includes a portion of Otie’s Trail. After many years of not being around much, the current owner has completely rebuilt the house and fenced off the adjoining property, complete with "No Trespassing" signs.

If you are thinking "It’s their property – that’s their right," you may not be entirely correct. There is a thing called "historic right of use". Decades ago, Otis Whiteside filed suit against the Stanley Heights Property Owners Association for right of passage for his horses and riders on this basis – and won.

I came to know this after Estes Park Town Administrator Frank Lancaster told me that what the town needed was documentation of the historic use of the trail. Having after some months found this online, Mr. Lancaster then informed me that the he already had that information, but that this was actually outside of the jurisdiction of the town; that I should take it up with the Stanley Heights property owners association.

To be clear: I am not suggesting that there is any kind of conspiracy going on. One might be excused however for having a sense that some folks are going out of their way to protect a certain set of interests, and that those interests are not necessarily those of the larger community. If we allow the historic right of passage over Otie’s Trail to lapse, the community will have lost an asset.

My thought has been that in the meantime and as a protest, my family will similarly block access to the portion of the trail that crosses our property. My 90 year-old mother insists however that we should not descend to that offensive and un-neighborly a level.

Our Estes Park Medical Center board of Batey, Begley, Muno, Pinkham, and yours truly, is dedicated to listening, deliberation, and collaboration to provide governance to a complex culture and hospital. Our aim is for all stakeholders to know quality is provided through staff’s coordinated care, based on a foundation of knowledge, professionalism, learning, growth, and respect. We are truly working on creating an EPMC Culture that we can all be proud of and this requires a dedicated and consistent board.

The McGraw Ranch Road neighborhood would like to extend our gratitude to all the responders from the Estes Park, Glen Haven, Pinewood Springs, and Loveland Fire Departments. Also, to Larimer County Sheriff Department, Estes Park Police Department and Rocky Mountain National Park for your work on our recent fire outbreak in the neighborhood. Without your rapid response, the fire could easily have gotten out of control with much more devastation to property and homes. Each neighbor thanks you for your hard work, dedication and commitment to your jobs and community.