A thumper truck at work. Enviros and oil industry agree on seismic thumpers

An agreement was reached last week that will allow
seismic thumper trucks into a section of the national
monument that contains the highest density of
Ancestral Puebloan ruins and artifacts in the country.
The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument,
west of Cortez, will be opened to “ thumper trucks,” trucks that send shock waves into the ground to locate oil reserves.

Four environmental groups, including Durango’s San Juan Citizens’ Alliance, had filed a lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of seismic thumping Aug. 9. The lawsuit was lifted last Friday after environmentalists
and oil companies agreed to restrictions that would protect the archaeologically sensitive area.

“They’ll have to do an environmental impact statement and analyze the issues of common reservoirs and drainage,” said Mark Pearson, executive director of San
Juan Citizens’ Alliance. “That’ll be a pretty high hurdle for them to meet.”

The agreement also calls for moving seismic thumpers away from archaeological sites and having reptile and archaeological experts accompany the exploration team to identify sensitive sites.

“We agreed to move about 40 of those source points mostly back onto existing roads,” Pearson said. “We got them to move out of the last, best pockets of cryptogamic soils and back onto roads.”

While Pearson admitted that the project area is fairly damaged by overgrazing, he said there are still areas where the delicate cryptogamic soil still forms an unbroken desert crust.

“Overall, it’ll reduce the impact in the most sensitive places,” Pearson said.

Pearson added that direct work with oil companies is what made this consensus possible, and that the companies took a pragmatic approach to addressing environmental concerns.

“The oil industry was a lot easier to work with than the BLM,” he said.

The Hamilton Mesa project area, where the exploration will take place, is close to the Utah state line and Hovenweep National Monument.

Chapman Recycling closes to make room for parking

Durango’s most popular location to drop off recyclables closed last week to make way for parking at Chapman Hill. While the closure represents an immediate hit to local recycling, there is hope that a longterm solution will be found.

With recreational usage at Chapman Hill increasing, the city of Durango is spending $913,000 to improve parking and landscaping at the site and add a
5,000 square-foot warming pavilion. The new parking lot forced the removal of
recycling bins that were Durango’s most widely used.

“For years, the guys who collect from all the sites in town have told me that they get more material from the Chapman Hill site than all the others combined,” said Nancy Andrews, resource conservation director for Durango.

“If we lose all that it’s certainly going to be a significant impact.”

Only three dropoff sites will remain in Durango, one at the Tech Center, one behind north City Market and one at Fort Lewis College. Andrews explained that
rather than frequenting another site, some people just stop recycling. As evidence, she pointed to a large drop in volume when the north City Market drop-off was
closed for construction last year. Consequently, she said she would like to see a replacement site in the same vicinity.

“We are looking at a couple of different sites,” said Andrews. “But we’re still a long ways off. There’s a hope to replace it, and we’d really like to have another on Florida Road to serve that population.”

Former FLC President named interim DACRA director

Joel Jones, retired president of Fort Lewis College, has been tapped to be the interim director for the Durango Area Chamber Resort Association. Laura Webb, DACRA chamber board chair, made the announcement last week.

Jones will fill the void left by outgoing director Jane Zimmerman for three months as a comprehensive search for a new and permanent director is undertaken.
The search is expected to be completed in December.

“My mission is to help stabilize and affect the restructuring of the organization however the board envisions the chamber’s future,” Jones said.

Zimmerman and Jones will engage in a transitional phase this week with Jones assuming full control Oct. 1. During the coming months, Jones said he will help
support existing chamber programs, activities and services.

“I like synergy,” he says. “I like being able to bring together entities where, in the end, everyone benefits. I like the possibility, and I see that in the Durango
Chamber’s future. It’s exciting.”

After stepping down as FLC President, Jones served as the interim superintendent of local school district 9- R as well as interim president of Salisbury University in Maryland. Zimmerman resigned after a 19-year tenure with DACRA, citing that she had accomplished her goals, namely the split of the chamber into wings serving business and tourism. Four other DACRA employees
also have resigned in the last six months. Zimmerman’s last day of work will be Friday.

Fort Lewis College adopts stringent smoking policy

Fort Lewis College is taking a swing at cigarette smoking. A new policy requires that all smoking on campus grounds take place a minimum of 50 feet from all doorways, windows and ventilation systems.

The change was first proposed by the Fort Lewis College Wellness Committee in May and eventually approved by the President’s Cabinet on July 1. According to Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Wellness Committee member Pam Smith, it has drawn accolades from staff and students.

“It was clear to the Wellness Committee, speaking with the majority of the campus community, that students and faculty would like to enter and exit buildings without subjecting themselves to cancer-causing smoke,” Smith said.

The President’s Cabinet has asked that all members of the campus community comply with this new policy and help with its enforcement. Fort Lewis College
President Robert Dolphin, Jr. said that the new policy will be largely self-regulated.

“There are many policies on campus that both students and faculty are expected to follow,” he said. “If someone does not comply, we will carefully take the time to explain the policy and bring to his or her attention the need for it.”

-compiled by Will Sands





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