Local's team wins Divide
The inaugural Red Bull Divide &
Conquer got off to an exciting start last Sunday. In just under
eight hours, Team Nike ACG/Balance Bar crossed the finish line and
took top honors for the first-ever mountain sports relay. Durango
local Mike Freeburn helped the team to victory during the kayaking
leg of the race.
The race took place in
the San Juan Mountains north of Durango and is modeled on the
long-standing Dolomitenmann race in Austria. Starting in Silverton,
the race began with a trail run up Kendall Mountain. The second leg
entailed paragliding off the peak's summit. A kayaking leg down the
long, Class V stretch of the Upper Animas followed. And the final
leg entailed mountain biking on singletrack from the Rockwood
take-out to Durango Mountain Resort. All told, the course covered
60 miles and more than 7,000 vertical feet of climbing.
Along with Freeburn,
Team Nike ACG/ Balance Bar included trail runner Mike Tobin,
paraglider Othar Lawrence, and mountain biker and team captain,
Mike Kloser. Freeburn's team finished less than eight minutes ahead
of the reigning Dolomitenmann champions, team Internet
BillBoard/OpavaNet from the Czech Republic. Freeburn was able to
hold off his Czech counterpart during the paddle down the Upper
Animas. This feat was exceptional given that Kamil Mruzek is the
current World Cup Champion of wildwater kayaking.
"It was long and hard,
and I knew where I was going and he didn't," Freeburn said. "That
was the difference. He is so much faster than I am."
When he got to the
take-out, Freeburn had the fastest split time for the kayaking leg
of the race. "The big thing for me was having that fastest paddle
split," he said. "I knew I had a shot, but there were some tough
guys in the field."
In hindsight, Mruzek
said that the kayaking leg of the race was the most difficult he
has ever seen. "This was the most technical race I've ever taken
part in," he said. "(The kayak leg) was six times longer and much
harder than the Dolomitenmann race."
long-standing adventure racer, said that the difficulty of Divide
& Conquer made last Sunday's victory a good one.
"The difficulty of this
course isn't something you see in adventure racing," he said.
"Winning at this level is something to relish because it's hard to
Durango's Ned Overend
and the Specialized/ Riversports crossed the finish line third.
Freeburn's team will head to Austria this September to compete in
the 17th annual Red Bull Dolomitenmann.
Immigrant safety zone' pitched
Efforts are under way to make Durango
a "safety zone" for immigrants. The measure would ease relations
between local law enforcement and both legal and illegal
Los Compa`F1eros, a
local immigrant-advocacy group, has asked the Durango City Council
to adopt a resolution declaring the city a "safety zone" for
immigrants. Olivia Lopez, the group's program director, said that
the resolution would improve civil rights for a portion of the
"The main point of this
resolution is to respect the dignity of every human being," she
The resolution would
increase understanding between the Durango Police Department and
the immigrant community by letting Immigration and Naturalization
Services deal with immigrant issues. Municipalities like Boulder,
Santa Fe, Albuquerque and San Francisco have created similar
"safety zones." Lopez noted that the resolution would help heal
strained relations between law enforcement and
"Our experience shows
that immigrants, whether they are documented or not, do not have a
strong relationship with law enforcement," she said. "First they do
not call the police whether they are victims or witnesses to a
crime. Second, they do not access municipal services that are
Lopez said that the
"safety zone" would not turn Durango into haven for illegal
immigrants. She added that it would not take the place of federal
or state laws.
"This resolution is a
proposal where we're asking the municipal resources to let the INS
do their job," she said. "We believe that this resolution will
encourage immigrants to come forward and report crimes."
The Durango City Council
will consider the resolution during a meeting on July 6 at 7:30
Middle Fork Fire allowed to
Fire managers are allowing a fire to
burn into the Weminuche Wilderness northwest of Pagosa Springs. The
Middle Fork Fire has grown to more than 40 acres in size and is
being managed under the Wildland Fire Use strategy. The approach
allows fire to play its natural role in the ecosystem with as
little interference as possible. Managers will access and evaluate
the fire frequently.
"The Middle Fork Fire is
an excellent fire use candidate and will provide excellent
ecological benefits. We're excited to have this opportunity," said
Fire Use Manager Alan Farnsworth.
The Middle Fork Fire is
burning at 9,720 feet where fire danger is still considered to be
moderate and is burning mainly through dead material on the ground.
Thefire was reported last Tuesday and is believed to have been
ignited by lightning.
Meanwhile, two more
lightning-triggered fires were reported northeast of Dolores in the
Stoner Creek area. These fires were burning in mixed conifer and
aspen and also in a remote area predetermined for Wildland Fire
Use. The fires are currently smoldering and creeping slowly through
dead and downed material onthe ground.
HD Mountains meetings
The Forest Service and Bureau of Land
Management are opening a controversial proposal for new natural gas
wells to public comment. The agencies will host eight public
involvement meeting on the Northern San Juan Basin Coalbed Methane
Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The touchiest element of the
EIS is proposed drilling in the HD Mountains, a roadless area
southeast of Bayfield.
The Northern San Juan
Basin Coalbed Methane Draft Environmental Impact Statement studies
a proposal by the companies BP America, Pure Resources, XTO Energy,
Elmridge Resources, Petrox Resources and Exok to develop
approximately 300 new coalbed methane wells in the region. More
than 100 of these wells would be located in the HDs.
Conservationists and residents charge that these gas wells would
threaten stands of old-growth ponderosa pine, abundant wildlife and
the very health and safety of their homes and families. The
proposal would also put 60 miles of new roads into a designated
The first meeting will
be a public hearing on July 14 from 6-10 p.m. at the Bayfield High
School. Additional informational meetings will take
19 from 4-7 p.m. at the San Juan Public Lands Center in
20 from 4-7 p.m. at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds in Pagosa
21 from 4-7 p.m. at the Bayfield High School
28 from 4-7 p.m. at the Able Atencio Community Room in
meetings are also planned for August. For more information on the
meetings or the draft EIS, contact the San Juan Public Lands Center
compiled by Will