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Surrealism and snowmobiles


The recent story on snowmobilers' efforts to invade another backcountry refuge of peace and quiet was informative, provocative and a taste of George Orwell's 1984 all at the same time. That the off-road motorized vehicle community feels somehow entitled to use every inch of public lands, even though thousands of acres of public land are already open to them, is somehow not surprising.

Most snowmobilers are undoubtedly nice, neighborly, law-abiding folks just out for a good time. Corey Corbett, acting chairman of the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition, is probably one of those nice folks. But characterizing his organization as "good guys in this" for wanting to invade one small, remaining island of quiet is a bit like calling Richard Nixon a "good guy" for helping clean up corruption in government.

Nearly as surreal is recreation forester Nancy Berry's observation that restricting motorized traffic from a small, 200-acre area around Andrews Lake has resulted in violations only "once in a while." She's likely to get a much different definition of "once in a while" from nonmotorized users who frequent the area.

Monitoring the Andrews Lake area clearly is tough on the financially strapped and short-staffed Forest Service. Maybe the agency should provide incident logs on-site, at backcountry gear stores and with snowmobile clubs and outfitters. That's a cheap way to generate more data and get a better read on the situation. The Telegraph could help out by providing info on who to contact at the Forest Service. Heck, maybe the Forest Service should open its own incident records to the public. Might be an eye-opener.

No doubt snowsleds can be handy, fun tools for work and play. There's also no doubt their engines are noisy and the exhaust noxious, in short, the antithesis of pristine backcountry solitude. If the motorized camp wants a taste of what it's like for everybody else when a horde of cranked up sledders revs through the quiet, its boosters should take a comfy seat by the fire and spend an hour or two listening to the ear-twisting shriek and whine of two-stroke engines while inhaling a cocktail of carbon monoxide and oil fumes.

Price Colman, Durango

Mountain bikes not meant for monument

To the Editors: As a resident of Southwestern Colorado, a lover of the outdoors and an avid hiker, I appreciate the incredible and varied recreational opportunities that our public lands offer residents of this area. I also recognize that there are some places that are inappropriate for certain kinds of use. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is not an appropriate place for mountain biking off-road.

The proclamation that created the Monument declared what many of us who live in the area already know; Canyons of the Ancients is a special place with rich historic and natural values that deserves special protections. The proclamation represented a huge conservation victory.

Now, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is trying to make sure that the BLM follows the proclamation, including sensible limitations on the use of motorized and mechanized vehicles in the Monument that prevent dirt bikes and other vehicles from tearing across the Monument. In the article "Trust blames bikes for degradation" the Telegraph calls the Trust's effort to maintain the proclamation finger pointing.I call it protecting the Monument.

Canyons of the Ancients still faces serious threats.It wasn't that long ago that giant seismic thumper trucks tore through the Monument looking for oil and gas. Those of us who care about the Monument need to insist that BLM follows the proclamation without it the Monument wouldn't exist even if it means that we have to leave our bikes at the trailhead.

Brian O'Donnell, Durango

Clarity and the monument

Dear Editors,

In response to your "Quick & Dirty" news story with the headline, "Trust blames bikes for degradation" in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, I would like to clarify the National Trust for Historic Preservation's position. We are concerned that the Interim Management Guidance for the area allows for the use of mountain bikes on trails in direct contradiction of the Presidential Proclamation establishing the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

In order to ensure that the monument's cultural landscape and its archaeological and historical resources will be protected, the Proclamation specifically prohibits use of all motorized and mechanized vehicles off road. Our concern is that the number of mechanized and motorized vehicles on off-road trails has been on the rise in recent years, which continues to damage the resources that the Presidential Proclamation was meant to protect. We believe that there is a distinction between what constitutes a "road" and what constitutes a "trail;" we have raised this issue with the Bureau of Land Management and are awaiting a response.

Allowing trails to be used by mechanized and motorized vehicles would mean that a clear directive handed down by the President of the United States via the authority granted to him by Congress in the Antiquities Act of 1906 is being ignored. In short, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument was created to preserve and protect in perpetuity the significant cultural and historic resources including the complex cultural landscapes that abound there, and protective measures, especially those made clear in the Proclamation, should come first.

Paul Edmondson,

vice president and general council,

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Hand off torch to Kucinich

Dear Editors:

Howard Dean ended his presidential campaign but wants "to continue the effort to transform the Democratic Party and to change our country." Appropriately, Dean urged his supporters to send "progressive delegates" to the Democratic convention.

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has long taken its progressive wing for granted. In my opinion, the worst thing progressives could do right now is jump on the Kerry-Edwards bandwagon.

Moreover, rather than voting for ex-candidate Dean, his supporters would be much more effective if they joined forces with the most progressive candidate still in the race, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (www.kucinich.us).

Kucinich, largely ignored by mainstream media, would benefit greatly from an infusion of Deaniac energy. In turn, Dean supporters would have Kucinich, an active candidate, espousing their shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous future for all Americans.

Bottom line: With Dean out of the race, Kucinich is the candidate to carry the progressive torch and delegates to the Democratic convention.

Mary Forthofer, via e-mail





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