Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Beauty of Gateway

Evan and I drove down to Gateway Canyons on Thursday evening to walk around the grounds, have a nice dinner and take in the Burning Desert Fire Collective. This was part of the resort's "Third Thursday" series, which combine dinner with educational and arts presentations.

Gateway is truly a beautiful place, and as concerned as I am about development in seemingly unspoiled areas such as Gateway, I have to say that what is happening down there appears to be a positive thing for the community at large.

There are those in the area that do not like what John Hendricks has done with their little enclave, and I have been critical in the past of development in the face of limited resources to protect it and those who use it, as well as the dispute over who will foot the cost of providing adequate power to development such as this one.

In spite of those growing pains, what has been done thus far, and what is planned for the future, is impressive. The resort staff has become directly involved in providing emergency services for the region, working to help manage and staff the local volunteer fire department.

While this may not be an optimal arrangement for more populated areas, they are at least trying to be a part of the solution, and one must acknowledge, if not applaud, the effort.

Other plans for the Gateway area don't sound as positive as this one. Despite the area's rich history in the extraction of Uranium and Vanadium, the proposal to re-open the Whirlwind Claim southwest of the resort up John Brown Road has several community groups concerned.

Today was the last day for public comment to the BLM regarding the permit process to allow mining of Uranium ore at the Whirlwind site, which would then be trucked to a mill for processing. Several local agencies have publicized the comment process in hopes that all concerned will voice an opinion to the powers that be at the Grand Junction BLM office.

I'm wondering out loud about the effect of all of those trucks on Highway 141 on the quality of the resort experience, what happens when crashes occur involving them, and what public safety infrastructure exists to deal with this effectively.

I'm also wondering if Mr. Hendricks and his resort have chosen to weigh in on the effects of the increased traffic in the immediate area of the resort on the pristine quality of the resort property, and the experience that many will be paying good money for at that property.

To their credit, the BLM is also seeking public input for revising their land use plan around Gateway to better manage the recreation that is occurring with increased frequency in the area, likely due in no small part to the presence of Gateway Canyons. I'm personally unsure if the mining and transportation of Uranium ore through Gateway can co-exist with these increased recreation opportunities, and/or a significant private sector investment in the area as a retreat and a first-class resort experience.

As far as the Gateway that exists now, you'll get an eyeful of history coming from Grand Junction, to be sure. When you arrive at the resort, I think you'll be impressed with the job that has been done, and of Mr. Hendricks' vision for the area that is now being realized in a way that is very complimentary and respectful of the surroundings.

Let's hope that it stays that way.

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