Summit County residents take to the streets for March for Science
April 22, 2017
On Saturday afternoon, crowds gathered at the South Gondola Lot in Breckenridge for the first March for Science. Marchers followed the Riverwalk Path to Main Street Station, alongside a bubbling Blue River. The flow of people stopped traffic at intersections on its way to Main Street Station, chanting phrases like "there is no planet B," and "science serves all." At Main Street Station, local Summit County organizations such as High County Conservation Center, Curb to Compost, the Sierra Club and Earth Justice had booths set up to give people information on local sustainable projects.
Emily Tracy, an adjunct professor in the sustainability program at Colorado Mountain College, helped to organize the event along with Page Van Meter, Linda Schutt, Kristen Ickes and Ujala Vatas. While climate change was a natural focus of the march, Tracy said that it is important to recognize that the event was for science issues of all kinds.
"Science really is incorporated in every aspect of our lives," she said.
Many of the people in the crowd carried signs that pointed directly to the impact climate change has on the state of Colorado. Warmer temperatures have a strong impact on mountain snowfall, a large driver in Summit's economy.
"It's already changing. Our winter season is getting a little shorter, things aren't starting up quite as early in the fall and things are melting a little earlier in the spring," Tracy said. "It's got to be dollars and cents for the ski area when they see that change."
Tracy said that she and the other organizers wanted to avoid a partisan political rally. Despite their efforts, many people brought signs relating to the Trump administration. Signs saying "Dump Trump," and "Keep America Great, support renewable energy" were directed at the president, who has denied climate change through numerous tweets. One marcher wore a shirt with the phrase "climate change is a yuge deal."
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Trump's proposed budget calls for heavy cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Health. Each receiving cuts of 31 percent and 18 percent, respectively, if the budget passes. The Department of Energy is also slatted for a 20 percent cut. The budget also calls for the EPA to layoff 3,200 members of its staff.
"It's unfortunate that people politicize things like science," said Currie Craven an Upper Blue resident.
For Earth Day, President Trump released a statement saying that "Rigorous science is critical to my Administration's efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection." The statement adds that we "can and must" help the environment without impacting the working families in the United States.
"Science is not a partisan issue, " said Ben Young, a doctor from Breckenridge who spoke at the event. "This is not for debate, this is true."
Trump's stances toward scientific policy sparked the inspiration for the Science March in Washington, D.C. Similar marches were held around the world on Earth Day. Of the 610 marches, 12 were planned in Colorado — Aspen, Avon, Breck, Carbondale, Colorado Springs, Denver, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Gunnison, La Junta and Telluride. Tracy estimated that around 300 attended the march in Breck. Craven said that it was likely that the event was at the highest elevation of any in the nation.
"We thought we were going to be able to estimate the amount of people by counting," said fellow organizer, Van Meter.
Chris Peterson, a scientist and teacher from Guffey in Park County, said that he was excited to see so many people come out in support of the march. He made a moving sign that said "this message made possible by science."
"We have to be heard," he said.
Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs had several of the organizers on his radio show "Dish with the Commish" on Friday Morning to talk about the event. The show airs Friday mornings at 7:30 on 102.7 KSMT The Mountain.
"The people here care about what's going on locally and globally," he said.
Several people had signs and T-shirts quoting "The Lorax" by Dr. Suess. The Lorax was a character upset because people were cutting down all the trees in his forest home. He famously said, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
Tracy said that it was a great experience putting the march together. She is hoping that the event will draw attention to the importance of the research done by federally funded agencies such as the EPA and Department of Energy.
"It's on our minds as citizens. We're very aware that things can change," she said. "We rely, all of us as citizens, rely on these agencies to be properly funded to preserve the clean air, clean water that's so important to us."