Group takes up rally reins

A new group will run and a new name will grace the annual Labor Day weekend motorcycle rally. Organizers of the Rocky Mountain Rally have reached an agreement with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to lease the Sky Ute Event Center for a “professional event”on Aug.28-Sept. 1 of next year.

Dan Bradshaw, of Farmington, and Creig Wallace, of Aztec, will be taking up the rally reins next year. The two have budgeted a hefty $1 million for the event and hope to attract the professional motorcyclist to a larger rally, featuring top entertainment.

“The rally’s been a good rally,” said Bradshaw. “I don’t want to lead people to think that past organizers did a bad job. I think it just got too big for them to handle.”

Bradshaw said that his group plans to host a top-notch, cleaner event that will make Four Corners communities proud.

“We want to really clean it up,” he said. “Most of these people who ride motorcycles are making above $75,000 in income and are over age 30. Those are the kind of people we really want to put on a rally for.”

Bradshaw said that the Rocky Mountain Rally hopes to bring 20,000 motorcyclists to the region. However, he said that numbers could go higher.

“We hope to bring 20,000 people,” Bradshaw said. “If we get up to 30,000 we will be ecstatic. It could go as high as 50,000. Our goal is to bring money into the community.”

U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., founded the Iron Horse Rally 10 years ago. Over time it has attracted as many as 30,000 participants. However, greater participation also meant greater liability, and six accidental deaths marred the 2000 rally. This year, an unofficial rally took place after negotiations between the tribe and event organizers fell through.

Airport may close for repairs

The Durango-La Plata County airport will likely close for the month of May for some much-needed repairs. Airport officials are looking at using the airport’s taxi strip in place of the landing strip, which will be torn up. “We are looking at other options,” said Ron Dent, airport manager. “Whether those will work will have to be determined.”

Chief among the options is using the single-strip Airport’s taxi runway to land planes, as crews mill and repair subsurface deterioration on the main strip. Dent said that the construction must happen at that time of year because of its favorable temperatures.

“People don’t seem to understand why we’re doing it when we are, and the answer is weather,” he said. “It’s tough to shut the runway at any time, and normally we’d do it during the slow times in April.”

The airport had planned on a routine repaving initially, but significant erosion was discovered. A new drainage system will be included in repairs to prevent such rapid deterioration in the future. The total project cost is estimated at $5.5 million.

“We haven’t had to shut the runway down since 1989, and hopefully, we won’t have to close it for a long time after this,” Dent said.

SanJuans to see more lynx

Division of Wildlife officials have approved a controversial plan to release as many as 180 Canada Lynx in the San Juan Mountains over the next six years. The Colorado Wildlife Commission approved the plan Nov. 15 in hopes that more animals would increase the odds of reproduction among the endangered animals. Division of Wildlife spokesman Todd Malmsbury said one of the trickiest features of the plan was creating a mechanism for punishing people who knowingly kill lynx and protecting those who do it accidentally.

“There’s an agreement that we had to work out for what procedures will be in place for protecting people who accidentally kill a lynx,” he said.

Malmsbury noted that lynx are relatively small animals and only in “very, very rare situations” have killed livestock, and then only sheep. He offered potential hunters or ranchers a good maxim for avoiding confusion, saying, “Don’t shoot a bobcat with a collar on it.”

The division released 96 lynx in the San Juans between 1999 and 2000 and believes as many as 53 still survive. “We’ve learned a great deal,” said Malmsbury. “We’re literally writing the book on this. And we think there is a reasonable chance that we can reestablish a lynx population here.”

However, as far as the division knows, lynx have yet to reproduce in the San Juans. “We have not seen any young lynx,” said Malmsbury.

Division biologists believe that roughly 50 animals living in a 10,000-square-mile area is the reason for the lack of young. There is hope that adding 180 new animals to the mix will encourage more favorable odds. If the division does not see kittens following the new reintroduction, it says it will give up the effort.

County seeks road solution

La Plata County is looking at ways to make pedestrian and bicycle traffic safer along Junction Creek Road. In an upcoming open house, the county will present the findings of a recent study on options for nonvehicular traffic along the busy corridor.

Reed Ross, a resident of the Falls Creek subdivision concerned about the safety of Junction Creek Road, successfully lobbied La Plata County to begin a study of nonmotorized traffic on the road. Undertaken by Sugnet Environmental Inc., the year-long transportation study was jointly funded by the county and Great Outdoors Colorado. It looked into the options of adding trails along either side of Junction Creek Road as well as widening the road, and concluded that environmental and private property issues prevent any possibility of building trails adjacent to the roadway.

“All roads lead back to the road, so to speak,” says Sean Moore, Sugnet Environmental project manager. “I think everyone involved anticipated that the solution would be a separated trail, but the environment, engineering and property acquisition made it so it was not feasible. The practical solution is to improve the safety by widening the road.”

The county will host an open house on Sugnet Environmental’s findings Monday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Animas Room of the La Plata County Fairgrounds. A hard copy can be obtained by calling 382-6363.

Activists opposing a war in Iraq stand outside the Old Main Post Office building on Nov. 13 to make a statement to U.S.  Scott McInnis who has an office inside./Photo by Dustin BradfordPeace marchers go to the top

Last week, the recently formed Southwest Colorado Peace & Justice Coalition presented position statements opposing war in Iraq to U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., and U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo. The presentations were made largely in response to a recent statement by McInnis that protesters have not formulated articulate alternatives.

“The big thing was to respond to McInnis’ statement in a KSUT interview where he essentially derided any of us who had been in the march and rally on Oct. 26,” said Denis Stratford, of the coalition.

During a late-October peace rally, roughly 800 people marched in Durango in opposition to war in Iraq. Stratford noted that McInnis referenced rally attendees as “those sign-carrying people.”

“We are definitely still wanting to get our message heard and feel that it is our representative’s duty to carry that message to Washington D.C. for us,” said Stratford.

The coalition was in place prior to the Oct. 26 march and was organized by Kalin Grigg and Dawn Farrington. The group’s primary current purpose is opposing an unjust war in Iraq.

– compiled by Will Sands





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