Local babies pull for the polls

A Durango group has taken an innovative approach to getting out the vote this November. The same locals who fashioned a large peace sign near the La Platas from nude bodies have turned to the next generation. Last week, Durango babies were assembled to spell out the word "Vote." The photograph's subtext reads, "For their sake! For their future!"

Tami Graham helped pull the project together and said that intent is to increase awareness and get more people to the polls.

"The big push for so many people is to get out the vote for our collective future and especially for our children," she said. "We're hoping to inspire people to get out and consider the repercussions of voting or not voting."

Graham said that, like the peace sign, the group has sent the "Vote" photo to the website www.baringwitness.org, an international movement to create change with similar photos. The group also hopes to produce a poster to sell locally.

The baby shot was the group's most ambitious effort yet, according to Graham. "It was quite a production getting all those kids to pose for the shot," she said.

Graham said thanks go out to Barb Klema, who donated space in the Wild Sage Yoga Studio for the shot, and photographer Kit Frost.

Trust blames bikes for degradation

A national organization is pointing the finger at mountain bikers for allegedly degrading the quality of the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument west of Cortez.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management charging that mechanized vehicles, and specifically bicycles, should not be allowed "off road" in the relatively new national monument. The letter goes on to blame cyclists for cultural degradation of the area that represents the highest density of Puebloan artifacts in the world.

LouAnn Jacobsen, monument manager, said the issue has come to light because of semantics. "The letter points out what the National Trust sees as a discrepancy between the language in the monument proclamation and the language in the state director's interim management guide," she said.

The proclamation prohibits all motorized and mechanized vehicles, including bicycles, off road. The current management plan calls for established roads and trails to remain open to their present uses.

"The difference is really between the definition of a road and a trail," Jacobsen said.

Bill Manning, executive director of Trails 2000, attended a Tuesday meeting of an advisory committee. He said the charge that mountain bikers and trail users are destroying the integrity of the monument is misdirected.

"Our group went over yesterday, attended the advisory committee meeting and we advocated for inclusiveness, allowing as many trail users as makes sense," Manning said.

"We pointed out that as far as the archaeological resources, the most worrisome activities are pot hunting and vandalism. We expressed our doubts that the average trail user is of big concern, regardless of his or her mode of travel."

Manning added that the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is a relatively new creation and needs some ironing out. "We've got a new monument, and there are a lot of things that need to happen," he said. "There are a zillion roads, there are a zillion jeep trails, and there are a zillion trails all throughout the monument."

Jacobsen said that the issue has been referred to the Department of the Interior's regional solicitor.

"We are anticipating an opinion in about a month, and at that time, we'll set up a meeting with the trust," she said.

Fee Demo program suffers setback

A coalition based on Colorado's Western Slope is celebrating a national victory over the Recreation Fee Demo program this week. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has passed an act that makes recreation fees permanent for national parks only. There had been pressure to make the fees permanent on Forest Service, BLM, and Fish and Wildlife Service lands as well.

Robert Funkhouser, president of Western Slope No Fee Coalition, said that the decision is a "remarkable victory" for the public. The coalition and numerous other groups throughout the country have challenged Fee Demo as a form of double taxing the public for use of public lands.

Another long-time opponent of the fee program, Alasdair Coyne, of Keep the Sespe Wild, added, "The Tide has turned, and with a growing groundswell for ending this ill-conceived recreation fee program, it is becoming even more clear that we will soon see the end of fees to take a hike in the woods."

With the exception of the Anasazi National Heritage Center outside Dolores, which charges $3 a day, there are no Fee Demo sites on the San Juan National Forest. However, elsewhere in the region, fees have been collected as part of the demonstration project for the last eight years. The Western Slope No Fee Coalition has fought a $6 Fee Demo at the Gunnison Gorge. And in April of last year, the group celebrated the first victory against Fee Demo in the nation when Ouray County commissioners voted to put an end to the fee station in Yankee Boy Basin.

DMR launches Jr. Freeride Team

Durango Mountain Resort is looking for the best skiers, snowboarders and telemark skiers ages 7-13 to make up DMR's first Jr. Freeride Team for the 2004/05 winter season. One of these young athletes will also compete in the Sports Illustrated for Kids' nextXsnow national finals this April.

This Saturday, Feb. 21, the resort will hold team tryouts in conjunction with the Sports Illustrated for Kids' nextXsnow search qualifying competition. Five athletes will be invited to join the DMR team, and the top skier or boarder will be the nextXsnow qualifier for the April 2 finals in Keystone.

Aspiring free riders can register on the day of the competition in the DMR ski school office. Competition will start on-mountain at 10 a.m. Athletes born between 1991 and 1996 are eligible for the DMR Freeride Team, and athletes born between 1990 and 1994 are eligible for the nextXsnow finals as well. Tryouts will be held simultaneously.

The nextXsnow and Freeride Team tryouts are for well-rounded youngsters who can conquer all corners of the mountain. Judges will awards points to athletes in freeriding, gate racing, jumping and jib categories. All athletes also need to bring a 100-word essay on"My Best Day on Snow."

Membership on the Jr. Freeride Team include a 2004/05 Season Pass, entry into Expression Session events, team hoody, team jacket, deals on equipment and free french fries. For more information, call 247-9000 ext. 237.

-compiled by Will Sands





News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index