Our View: Kudos to the council | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Kudos to the council

Rather than waiting to take action until bear season rolls around again in Steamboat Springs, City Council took the first steps to revamp the city’s trash ordinances with a focused eye toward preventing bears from breaking into dumpsters and trash cans, which puts both bears and humans at risk.

As City Manager Gary Suiter was quoted as saying in a Nov. 14 article in the Steamboat Pilot & Today, “it’s kind of sneaky, but we need to talk about this while the bears are asleep,” and we agree. The city’s proactive approach will ensure revised ordinances are in place well before the bears wake up this spring after a winter of hibernation and start searching for food.

In July, we published an editorial asking the council to consider adopting stricter trash ordinances, including a requirement that all city residents be required to use wildlife-resistant containers for their trash, so we’re glad to see City Council addressing this issue.

Council’s goal of making sure there are zero dead bears due to human trash is a good one, and we think the city is headed in the right direction. The city is also hoping to see a reduction in bear-related calls that require a response from the Steamboat Springs Police Department or Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Part of the city’s review of its current trash ordinances will include presentations from two bear researchers who study conflicts between humans and bears in Durango — insight that we think will be helpful for council members to hear as they make changes to local code.

At its most recent council meeting when the subject of bears and trash was raised, City Council heard from CPW Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf, who recommended the city require all refuse be kept in containers that are certified as bear-resistant by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. This is something many other resort towns, like Aspen and Vail, require, and we think it’s time Steamboat follow suit.

Public comment at the meeting was supportive of the council’s decision to review current ordinances in an effort to minimize human-bear conflicts that are caused by trash. We applaud the council for dealing with this issue proactively, and we look forward to more action in January.

At a glance

At issue: City Council has begun work on revising city trash ordinances to mitigate the problem of bears getting into trash.

Our View: Council members are wisely taking a proactive approach to an issue that creates a safety risk for humans and bears, and they are working ahead to ensure a solution is in place before the bears are out of hibernation.

Editorial Board

  • Logan Molen, publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor

Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com.

And while we’re handing out compliments, we’d also like to commend the city on completing the underpass that allows pedestrians to cross U.S. Highway 40 at Pine Grove Road. The Fish Creek Underpass now links sidewalks near the Yampa Valley Housing Authority’s new development near Walgreens to the southwest corner of the Safeway parking lot.

The intersection is a busy one and posed safety issues for pedestrians trying to navigate across the highway. The new route provides a safe alternative for crossing the highway and creates an easier connection to the Yampa River Core Trail for those who wish to stay off the roads and travel through town by foot or on bikes.

It was also nice to learn that the underpass will be lighted 24 hours a day, and in the spring crews from Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will be beautifying the route by planting native trees along the banks of Fish Creek where vegetation had to be removed during the construction process. There is also talk of a mural being painted on a concrete wall near the underpass, which is another idea we love.

And finally, we’d like to thank Scott Ford for his six years of service on the Steamboat Springs City Council. Ford wasn’t afraid to take stands on issues even when they proved controversial and put him at odds with other city leaders, but he stood by his convictions. He also made himself available to his constituents, hosting monthly Coffee with Council gatherings, manning the council tent during Farmers Markets in the summer and riding the free bus.

Ford modeled how an elected official should engage in civil public debate, which in this day and age can seem like a lost art, and you never had to wonder what Ford’s position was on any issue. He made himself available to our reporters over the years and didn’t shy away from answering tough questions. We appreciate his candidness as well as his commitment to conducting city business openly and transparently.


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