A-LP opponent suffers legal defeat

As construction on the Animas-La Plata project continues near Santa Rita Park, efforts to derail the controversial water project are going forward in court. Last week, District Court Judge Gregory Lyman ruled in favor of the project in one of numerous lawsuits being pushed by the Citizens' Progressive Alliance, a Colorado and New Mexico watchdog group.

The CPA is currently pursuing six separate lawsuits against the Department of Interior and the Animas-La Plata project. One of them charged that after 1964, Bill Eakes served as the attorney for the Southwestern Conservation District, advocating for A-LP, at the same time he served as District Court Judge. On Nov. 15, Lyman ruled that there was no conflict of interest.

Phil Doe, of the CPA, replied, "I don't know if we're going to get any justice out of this legal system." He added that the project seems to be untouchable inside the courtroom.

"It's disappointing to us that we can't get the court to examine the improprieties surrounding the A-LP project," Doe said. "We'll continue to fight it but it's disappointing.

The fight continued Nov. 19 as the CPA went back into Lyman's court with the most significant of its legal actions. The suit alleges that the Bureau of Reclamation has failed to do the necessary upkeep on the A-LP water rights, also known as diligence. In fact, the group has asserted that the bureau has failed to do diligence on the water since A-LP's initial approval in 1968. The rights were initially agricultural and have not been changed into municipal and agricultural water rights. In addition, he said that the point of diversion has changed since 1968 but not been officially adjusted on the water right. As a result, Doe said that legally, there is no water for the reservoir that's currently being constructed in Ridges Basin.

"They have to amend the water right and then they have to open it up to objectors," Doe said. "I don't know how they'll get around this."

Doe said he expects a decision in the near future, noting, "This might be a landmark"

Joy ride destroys local BMX track

Late on the night of Friday, Nov. 14, a four-wheel drive vehicle left the highway and went off-roading on the Durango BMX track. Estimates put damage to the volunteer-built and maintained track at roughly $10,000.

Danny Myers, president of Durango BMX, said he discovered the damage on the following afternoon. "I was previewing the track to see if we could race on Sunday," he said. "Instead, I realized that we're done for the season."

Myers said not only did the late-night adventure devastate the track, it also managed to smash a hose bib and destroy plumbing. "Everything at the track has been donated including manpower so it's hard to put a value on the damage," Myers said. "I'd say it's about $10,000."

Myers said that the season officially ended for local BMX riders Oct. 26. However, two local riders, Chris Blevins, age 5, and Ashley Grubb, age 16, are still training for grand nationals, which take place on Thanksgiving.

"It's going to be up to that person to understand what he did to people like Chris and Ashley," Myers said. "Hopefully the person who did it will step up and admit he made a mistake, and we will forgive him. He might have to come work for me."

As for rebuilding the track, Myers said it will have to wait until next spring.

"I'm afraid we're done," he said. "It's going to have to wait until spring. It's too bad they caught us at the end of the year when we're out of energy."

FLC Environmental Center honored

The Fort Lewis College Environmental Center's goal to reduce energy and water consumption was recognized recently. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment presented the center with the Colorado Environmental Achievement Award.

"The work of the Environmental Center - reducing water and energy through innovative programs - is to be commended," said Douglas Benevento, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "These efforts as well as the implementation of a recycling program for the college and community as a whole are the type of results that the Department strives to recognizes when awarding the Environmental Achievement Award."

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also commended the Environmental Center for incorporating water-efficient native plants into the landscaping around such facilities as the Student Life Center and Hesperus Park.

"This is pretty big especially because we are such a small school and usually bigger schools are recognized for what they are doing," said Michael Rendon, director of the Environmental Center. "We are doing some pretty big things here, making a difference with what limited resources we have."

DMR breaks ground on second village

The second Durango Mountain Resort village in as many months has received final approval from the La Plata Board of County Commissioners, and construction began recently. Located just south of Purgatory Village on the east side of Highway 550, Engineer Village phase 1 consists of 36 single-family homesites.

"This is the first single-family village to be developed under the new master plan," said resort CEO Gary Derck. "After three years of planning, we are extremely pleased and excited to finally break ground, and the initial sales pace has been exceptional."

Several lots have sold and a further 15 contracts are expected to close in the next few weeks. Lot prices start at $154,900, and Derck said that with other homesites in the area selling for more than $500,000, demand for the homesites has been strong.

John Salazar announces candidacy

State Rep. John Salazar, Democrat, stopped over in Durango to announce his candidacy for Republican Scott McInnis' House of Representatives seat on Wednesday. The announcement came on the heels of State Sen. Jim Isgar from Hesperus' decision to not run for the seat. Bernie Buescher from Grand Junction and State Sen. Bill Thiebaut from Pueblo also had expressed interest in McInnis' seat but instead now support Salazar.

"I'm very excited to continue my service to the people of Colorado," Salazar said. "An opportunity like this does not come along everyday. So, after consultation with family, friends and colleagues, I have decided that the time was right for me to run."

Salazar is the brother of Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar and lives in the town of Manassa, south of Alamosa. Recently, he led a bipartisan coalition to defeat Referendum A, the proposed ballot measure that would have created $2 billion dollars in new debt for unspecified water projects

- compiled by Will Sands





News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index