|Nothing up his sleeve: Regan Patno hams
it for the kids during the Tweaksters theatrical variety
show at the Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall on
Sunday afternoon./Photo by Todd Newcomer.
Navajo pipeline suffers setbacks
A massive new water project proposed
just across state lines in northwest New Mexico is facing
difficulties. The Navajo Nation and New Mexico State Engineer's
Office have been working to fast track a settlement that would
enable the tribe to build a nearly $900 million pipeline to siphon
322,000 acre-feet of water out of the San Juan River each
The pair had wanted to
have the settlement before the U.S. Congress on March 1 for a vote.
However, that deadline has come and gone. As the group looks to an
April 1 date, word has come down that funding for the project this
year is highly unlikely.
Steve Cone, of the
watchdog group Citizens' Progressive Alliance, said that Sen. Pete
Domenici, R-N.M., has indicated that Congress is likely to approve
the project's $871 million budget in the current fiscal
"It sounds like, from
what Domenici is saying, that he cannot muster the kind of
Congressional support to drive a bill through given the state of
the national economy," he said.
Cone said that this and
the missed March 1 deadline make for good news for the American
public. "They've already let one deadline come and go," he said.
"If the April 1 deadline comes and goes, it's a safe bet that they
won't be able to get Congressional support until next year at the
The CPA hopes that the
delay will allow the process to open, according to Cone. To this
point, he said that the taxpayer is being asked to nearly fully
fund a project whose settlement was negotiated in
"The Navajo Nation and
the Interstate Stream Commission have yet to take any action on the
settlement agreement," Cone said. "But there are ongoing
negotiations being held by a federal negotiating team. They
continue to meet behind closed doors, and we cannot get any
information at all about the negotiations."
The combination of the
secret meetings and the fast-track are both highly suspect, Cone
said. "This federal team has not in fact followed federal policy,"
he said. "They're winging it and making up the rules as they go
along to satisfy who knows what special interests."
Wolf Creek development pitched
A development that opponents are
calling a Vail-sized city has been proposed at the base of Wolf
Creek Ski Area. A Texas development company has proposed the
"Village at Wolf Creek" on 287.5 acres at the base of the Alberta
quad. The "village" would include 2,172 units on 162 lots, 5,176
bedrooms and 222,100 square feet of commercial space including 12
restaurants, multiple hotels and a convention center. The Rio
Grande National Forest is currently soliciting public input on the
Already the "Village at
Wolf Creek" is drawing serious opposition. A group called Friends
of Wolf Creek has formed and includes representation from Colorado
Wild, San Juan Citizens' Alliance, the American Lands Alliance and
the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council.
Jeff Berman, executive
director of Colorado Wild, said that the proposal is particularly
damaging given Wolf Creek's location. "This new city proposed at
the backside of Wolf Creek Ski Area is a terrible location
ecologically," he said. "It sits between the wildest wilderness
area, the South San Juans, and the largest, the
Berman argued that this
wilderness value should be preserved. "Everyone that lives here
should be proud of the fact that this is the wildest terrain left
in the Rockies. We should preserve its wildness rather than letting
it turn into another Vail."
Berman said that the
development will have far-reaching impacts, citing potential damage
to wetlands, sensitive species, water quality, traffic levels and
more. "Unfortunately, we're going to see a whole host of
environmental and social impacts from this type of development," he
Berman also said the
proposal is a direct result of a "sketchy" land exchange in 1989.
At that time, the Rio Grande National Forest denied a proposal by
Texas billionaire and Minnesota Vikings owner Red McCombs to
privatize the 287 acres of public land. It was determined that
creating private property surrounded by public lands was not in the
public interest.However, two weeks later an order from
Washington, D.C. reversed decision.
The Rio Grande National
Forest is currently undertaking an Environmental Impact Study of
the proposed development. Field tours of the area will be conducted
by the Wolf Creek Ski Patrol on March 24-28 and written comments
are due by April 5. For more information, call Stephen Brigham,
NEPA Coordinator, at (719) 657-6035 or log onto
Phelps announces commissioner bid
Republican Roger Phelps has announced
his candidacy for Josh Joswick's La Plata County commissioner seat.
Phelps joins Democrats Wally White and David Black, and fellow
Republican William Holmes in the race for the seat.
Phelps is a 44-year-old
lifelong resident of La Plata County and is employed as the guest
services director and facilities manager at Sky Ute Lodge and
Casino and operates his own cow and calf operation. Phelps is also
a member of the La Plata County Budget Advisory Committee, Colorado
Cattlemen's Association and the president of the Colorado State
Phelps said that
managing growth, maintaining the rural feel of the area and dealing
with water issues will be the key issues of his campaign. "As a
lifelong resident of La Plata County and a father of three children
I feel a responsibility to ensuring that our quality of life in La
Plata County is preserved," he said.
Task force nets two drug ring busts
In recent weeks, the Southwest Drug
Task Force has dismantled two area local drug
distribution/trafficking organizations and taken five defendants
On Feb. 13,
investigators searched the Ignacio home of Connie Silva-Servin and
Cruz Soledad Morales. The search revealed methamphetamine, cocaine
and several weapons. Servin was booked into La Plata County Jail on
charges of distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine. Pagosa
Springs resident and Mexican national Hector Garcia also was
implicated and is being held on charges of distributing cocaine.
Morales, also a Mexican national, is still at large.
On March 3, members of
the task force netted another large bust accompanied by Durango
Police officers. They searched the home of Durango resident
Kimberly Hill, where they recovered methamphetamine packaged for
sale. Hill was booked into La Plata County Jail on charges of
possession of methamphetamine.
In addition, Delta
residents Eugene Salazar and Rose Salazar were implicated in the
network and arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine
with the intent to distribute.
The Southwest Drug Task
Force is comprised of Investigators from the La Plata County
Sheriffs Department, Colorado Bureau of Investigations and the
Ignacio Police Department.
compiled by Will