County Update: Personal responsibility
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Wow, what a year. Where has the time gone? Seems like only yesterday Routt County issued the emergency declaration due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, that yesterday was March 13, and here we are at the end of August. Five and a half months have passed and a lot of us are wondering where has the summer gone, what happened to our water, and where the heck did this drought come from, when is it all going to be over?
During this era of COVID-19, we have seen drought, numerous wildland fires and Interstate 70 closed, it’s easy to wonder what else may be coming our way. What else can nature challenge us with? I’m reminded of what President John F. Kennedy proclaimed, “Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
In this case, I say what we can do for our country is to not be a statistic or a cause of any of these issues and to work at mitigating and minimizing these obstacles. With all these challenges happening in our county, state, country and world, we need to remind ourselves that we individually have a personal stake and responsibility in hardships. We can exercise a sizable impact on their outcome while minimizing our personal exposure to these events. The following is a list of what you can do.
- COVID-19: We all have an obligation to keep ourselves healthy and make an investment in staying uninfected. We can minimize our personal and family risk by practicing the Five Commitments of Containment: maintain six feet of social distance; wash hands often; cover face in public; stay home if at risk or sick; and seek testing immediately if symptoms arise. Other tips include avoiding large public gatherings and public health is recommending that a flu shot be obtained early this year.
- Drought: Despite a winter snowpack 107% of normal, our rivers and streams are struggling during this hot, dry, windy summer, accentuating a 20-year drought. We can do our part by minimizing household water consumption and lawn watering and following utility provider conservation recommendations. If recreating in the water, minimize your disturbance and, most importantly, remember the water is home to fish and numerous species that are struggling too.
- Wildland fire: Follow the regulations of the county’s Stage 2 Fire restrictions — no outside fires, no outside cigarette smoking, no outside welding, no dragging safety chains, etc. Personal responsibility most importantly includes home and structure fire mitigation. You will be your own best firefighter with preparation, mitigation and by minimizing your exposure to fire.
- Interstate 40: With the closure of I-70, our community has seen traffic increase on U.S. Highway 40. Our part of the solution is minimizing our local travel and trips. We all know that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to local traffic impacts. We can lessen the impacts of the closure of I-70 by minimizing our local trips and combining errands into single excursions from the house.
We all have choices. We can be part of the problem, or we can be part of the solution. We can take individual action on our own. Where we go and what we do are all part of our personal responsibility and part of our societal footprint. As individuals, we do not have control of pandemics or natural disasters, but we can control our individual behavior.
Let’s concentrate on where we can make a difference in our community, be the best you can be and do it right. I know I am responsible for my actions. As William James said, “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
Doug Monger represents District II on the Routt County Board of Commissioners.
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On a glorious September day in 2019, a ribbon stretched across the Yampa River near 10th Street in Steamboat was ceremoniously cut, and the Yampa River Fund was officially launched.