Council opposes the Patriot
Last Tuesday, the Durango City Council
unanimously passed a resolution making Durango a Patriot-Act free
zone. People packed into council chambers and largely spoke in
favor of the resolution.
The resolution was
brought before council by the Southwest Colorado Peace and Justice
Coalition. The Patriot Act was adopted shortly after the Sept. 11,
2001, attacks as a sweeping attempt to combat terrorism.
However, critics say
many of the provisions of the legislation violate civil liberties
in the name of the war on terror. For instance, the Patriot Act
allows police to arrest and detain indefinitely any American
suspected of terrorism. Immigrants can be detained without
disclosure of their names. Suspects' homes can be searched without
prior notification, and personal information like Internet habits
can be obtained without consent. Librarians, booksellers and video
shop owners also are required to turn over patron records to
federal investigators when asked.
"The whole act is a
significant undermining and assault on civil liberties and the
basic rights that are fundamental to democracy," said the Kalin
Grigg, of the Peace and Justice Coalition. "The act is problematic
in many ways, and what a resolution would do is try to reveal the
problems and encourage local officials to protect their citizenry
from the act's provisions."
Durango Mayor Virginia
Castro concurred with this sentiment, saying: "Basically, the
resolution requires that we continue to respect people's
constitutional rights. It also sends a message that we at the local
level do not agree with the legislation that was
The resolution directs
city employees, including the Durango Police Department, to not
step on locals' constitutional rights and civil liberties. City
Manager Bob Ledger would also be required to report any requests by
federal officials that would cause the city to violate city
ordinance. The resolution further states that the council supports
the immediate repeal of unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot
Act and opposes its proposed expansion.
Castro said that her
read was that people were overwhelmingly in favor of the
resolution. "I think we counted maybe four people who came and said
we shouldn't be doing a resolution," she said. "Some of them even
said that they weren't opposed to resolution, but thought it should
go to a public vote."
The resolution took
Grassroots air study underway
In cooperation with the University of
New Mexico, the San Juan Citizens' Alliance will be monitoring
ozone concentrations in the San Juan Basin this summer. Ozone is
formed by a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds
and nitrogen oxides. The pollutants that form ozone are emitted by
cars, gas heaters, paints, oils, coal-fired power plants, natural
gas power plants, gas compressors, pits and tanks, processing
plants, and other sources. High concentrations of ozone can lead to
Alan Rolston, San Juan
Citizens' Alliance oil and gas coordinator, said that ozone is a
significant concern in the Four Corners area. He noted that
Farmington regularly exceeds the federal limit of 84 parts per
billion and that at levels of 50 to 60 ppb, ozone can retard lung
function in young children and infants.
"Farmington is crowding
the limit, and at those levels and much lower levels, ozone starts
affecting lung tissue," Rolston said.
Four of the monitors
will be located around Farmington and Shiprock. Another two will be
located in La Plata County, near Bondad and Farmington Hill.
Roughly a dozen citizen volunteers will collect samples on a weekly
"We felt like the
air-quality impacts are basinwide. not just in Farmington," Rolston
said. "Those power plants affect our air as well."
Monitoring has been
ongoing for the last three weeks and will take place through the
summer. At that time, the results will be examined and possible
mitigation will be addressed.
Possible debris flows close
The repercussions of the Missionary
Ridge Fire are still being felt locally. Last week, San Juan
National Forest officials decided to close five of the 80 sites in
the Vallecito Campground, north of Vallecito Reservoir, because of
potential debris flow hazards.
According to Kay
Zillich, hydrologist at the San Juan Public Lands Center , if the
area were to receive 1-1/3 inches or more of rain in an hour, there
is a very high probability that a massive debris flow would
The effect of such a
storm would release a debris flow up to 320 cubic meters per
second, which is equivalent to about 45 cement truckloads per
second. These debris flows are typically 80 percent rock and sand,
and 20 percent water.
Officials are concerned
that a debris flow in Fall Creek could divert the stream from its
normal channel and send it down an alternate channel through the
upper part of the campground. A thunderstorm of this size might
happen once every 25 years.
"We felt that closing
these sites was better then closing the entire campground," said
Dave Baker, long-term rehabilitation team leader.
In addition to the sites
at the Vallecito Campground, five campsites in the Middle Mountain
Campground will be changed from overnight camping to day use only,
and the campground host must grant permission for the day use.
Recreationists using the site must be willing to evacuate these
sites when heavy rains hit the area.
Native cutthroats to receive
Native populations of cutthroat trout
got a boost this week when a $60,000 grant was awarded to the
Colorado Water Trust to help protect the fish in the Colorado and
Rio Grande River basins.
The grant was awarded by
the Colorado Conservation Trust, a foundation focused on funding
new land and water conservation initiatives across Colorado, and
there is hope that the money can be leveraged into $180,000. The
Denver-based Colorado Water Trust, which was created in 2002, is a
nonprofit with a board composed of experts in water law,
conservation and agriculture. The Colorado Water Trust's goal is to
buy water rights on the open market for conservation benefits
including fisheries, wetlands and wildlife habitat.
Trust's funds are the first significant grant the Colorado Water
Trust has received for transactions and will allow it to begin
using a variety of market-based transactions to ensure adequate
stream flows for native fish," said Will Shafroth, executive
director of the Colorado Conservation Trust.
Shafroth continued: "
Colorado Water Trust will negotiate deals with water users on the
open market that will leave more water in streams thereby ensuring
a healthy river ecosystem. Ultimately what we're trying do is keep
water in the streams for fish and overall stream
John Carney, executive
director of Colorado Water Trust, said the grant funding should
have a major impact on fisheries throughout the state.
"This is important seed
money for us," Carney said.
County seeks moratorium
La Plata County commissioners will be
soliciting public comment on issues related to the development of
the Grandview area early next week. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe
has proposed 2,400 new units in a dense new urbanism configuration
on the property immediately east of Durango. The proposal prompted
the commissioners to enact a six-month moratorium on development in
the area late last year.
Now the county is
considering extending that moratorium for a maximum of three months
so its planning and engineering departments can evaluate existing
plans and propose appropriate regulations for new development in
the area. In addition to comment on the moratorium, the county
would like the public to weigh in on a proposed intergovernmental
agreement with the city of Durango. The agreement would revise
existing regulations with respect to county development in close
proximity to the city.
The meeting will take
place in the County Courthouse, Anasazi Room, on July 7 at 9