Opinion | Martie Semmer: Protecting mountain environment is key | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Martie Semmer: Protecting mountain environment is key

Martie Semmer
Blue River Board of Trustees candidate
Martie Semmer
Courtesy photo
  • Occupation: Retired K-12 Spanish language educator and consultant. Post-retirement personal interest is working with dogs.
  • Years in Summit County: 40 in Blue River
  • Family: Husband, Paul; 8-year-old English pointer, Ivan 
  • Civic involvement: Former legislative liaison on behalf of public education and foreign language education, Blue River Citizens Advisory Committee current member

During the 40 years that my husband, Paul, and I have lived in the town of Blue River, we continue to have a growing appreciation of living with nature. At the same time, we have noticed resort-oriented urbanization and exploitation that is undermining the town’s natural mountain environment. As growth and development are nearing build-out, it is more critical than ever before that the town take a temporary timeout and step off the current track of rapid growth and development that is compromising the town’s character. Now is the time for the town to take the necessary bold steps to plan, develop and implement proactive policies and practices to protect the town’s character — including a natural mountain environment, open spaces, low density without commercial zoning, wildlife habitat including habitat along the Blue River corridor, healthy vegetation, and clean air and water. 

Three interconnected priorities come to mind: to conserve and protect the town’s natural mountain environment, to provide town residents and visitors access to information regarding conservation practices that honor the town’s serene residential mountain community, and to build relationships within the town and with the town’s neighbors to advance shared values and goals.  

Prioritize conservation

The conservation and protection of the town’s natural mountain environment is fundamental to safeguard the town’s character. Town residents appreciate and value adequate open space to accommodate a well-planned trail system within the town and with links to trails on public lands. Just as important is to designate lands to be set aside in conservation easements for wildlife habitat including critical sections of the Blue River corridor. These are examples of land management utilizing best practices. As the town nears build-out, the town should consider acquiring some of the remaining vacant lots for open space and/or conservation purposes. 

There are a number of initiatives in the planning stages that have begun to take form in the town. Two projects that I have played a role to initiate are underway: noxious weed removal/prevention measures along with native plant revegetation and International Dark-sky Association practices to minimize and eliminate (when possible) light pollution and light pollution trespass with neighbor-friendly and wildlife friendly outdoor lighting to ensure the natural night sky with advantages that include health benefits to humans and wildlife as well as energy conservation. A town stargazing event to celebrate the natural night sky is in the planning stage.

Provide information

Conservation and protection of the town’s natural mountain community involves sharing information with and among town residents and visitors. Focusing on the above-mentioned ways to protect the town’s natural environment, access to information and education is essential. Equipped with the necessary information, people will make informed decisions and are more likely to voluntarily choose landscaping methods and night lighting protocol that contributes to the natural night sky. Key ways to share information regarding conservation best practices include posting on the town website links to important resources, e.g., Summit County government, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, CSU Extension Office, Colorado Open Lands as well as local municipalities; conservation-oriented links, such as International Dark-sky Association on the town website; plus webinars and recordings of presentations that can be accessed at any time on the town website.

Build relationships

Building relationships within the town of Blue River and with the town’s neighbors is essential. The good-neighbor policy within the town that honors town neighbors and their private properties goes a long way to building a strong community. Building relationships and forming partnerships beyond the town’s boundaries with the above-mentioned resources and neighbors offer the town of Blue River opportunities to form partnerships and to collaboratively plan and implement practices to advance shared values and goals. 

Martie Semmer is one of five candidates for three open seats on the Blue River Board of Trustees.

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