HDs drilling opened to
The Forest Service and
Bureau of Land Management have opened a controversial proposal for
new natural gas wells to public comment. Next Wednesday, the public
will have its only opportunity to make comments in person on a plan
that includes gas 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 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
On Wednesday, July 14, from 6 to 10 p.m. a public hearing will
take place at the Bayfield High School. Though there will be other
information sessions on the proposal, this will be the only hearing
where the Forest Service will record oral comments. Sign-in for
those wishing to speak will be from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Comments will
also be accepted in writing through Sept. 13.
Mark Pearson, executive director of San Juan Citizens' Alliance,
encouraged people with concerns to attend. "This is the one and
only public hearing," he said. "It's the only chance for your
comments to be formally recorded other than writing a letter."
Pearson added that the agencies desperately need the public's
input on drilling in the HDs.
"I think the Forest Service is honestly concerned about the
impacts of this project, and they really want a better solution
than they have come up with on their own," he said. "They are
desperately seeking our help."
He concluded that now is the time to speak up about the
potentially damaging proposal. "This might very well be the last
chance for the HDs, so we can't stay home and sit on our hands," he
For information, go to www.nsjb-eis.org or call
Immigrant safety zone'
Efforts to make Durango
a "safety zone" for immigrants have paid off. Last Tuesday, the
Durango City Council unanimously adopted a resolution that eases
relations between local law enforcement and legal and illegal
Los Compa`F1eros, a
local immigrant-advocacy group, had asked the Durango City Council
to adopt a resolution declaring the city a safety zone for
immigrants. The measure was intended to improve civil rights for a
portion of the local population by keeping local law enforcement
out of immigration enforcement. According to Olivia Donaji-Lopez,
program director for Los Compa`F1eros, the resolution would not
take the place of state and federal laws. It would merely give
local immigrants a measure of comfort when contacting local law
enforcement for services or protection.
Council members agreed
with this sentiment. "This resolution isn't about throwing the door
open to anyone, it's about making sure everyone's treated equally,"
said Dale Garland.
Council member Virginia
Castro agreed that the intent is equal treatment for all members of
the community. "This is one step in letting people know we respect
and honor their contributions," she said. "If they are a witness to
a crime and come forth, it will not endanger their
Mayor Joe Colgan
concluded that he sensed a majority of community support for the
safety zone resolution. "The city should remain a place where
people are treated equally and with respect," he said.
Hard Rock takes off this
This weekend, runners
will face the ultimate challenge in the San Juan Mountains north of
Durango. From July 9-11, the annual Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run
will take place in the mountains above Silverton, Ouray and
Telluride. Runners, including Durangoans Chris Nute, Keith Baker
and Odin Christensen, will compete at an average elevation of
11,000 feet and endure more than 33,000 feet of elevation gain and
loss in the 100-mile foot race.
The 2004 Hardrock
Hundred will be run in a clockwise direction beginning and ending
in Silverton. Race officials would like the public to be aware that
runners and support crews will be on the following trails and roads
at the listed times:
- July 9 from 5 a.m.-noon Putnam
Basin/Ice Lake Trail/Grant Swamp Pass
- July 9 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Ophir
Pass/Oscars Pass/Bear Creek Trail
- July 9 from noon-11 p.m. Jud Wiebe
Trail/Virginius Pass/Governor Basin/ Camp Bird Road
- July 9-10 from 4 p.m.-6 a.m.
Ouray/Bear Creek National Trail 241/Engineer Pass
- July 9-10 from 8 p.m.-2 p.m. American
Basin Trail/Handies Peak/Boulder Gulch Trail/Cinnamon
- July 9-10 from 11 p.m.-10 p.m.
Cataract Gulch/Pole Creek/Continental Divide Trail
- July 10-11 4 a.m.-6 a.m. Green
Mountain/Shenandoah Mine Trail/Dives/Little Giant Pass/Arastra
Few fires triggered over
The Fourth of July
weekend proved to a be mild one for local fire managers. In spite
of volatile weather and numerous people in the backcountry, only
five new wildfires occurred in the region over the holiday weekend.
The largest grew to 7 acres on July 3 on Southern Ute land. The
remaining four were an acre or less, and three of them were located
on Ute Mountain Ute lands and one was triggered on San Juan Public
Lands. One of the fires was confirmed to have been human-caused,
two were lightning-caused, and two undetermined.
Meanwhile, two fires
that are being allowed to burn as a benefit to the forest are
within control. The Spring Creek Fire is estimated at 135 acres and
the Yearling Fire is estimated at 1`BD acres. Both are burning 18
miles northeast of Dolores.
"Both fires continue to
move slowly on a north slope in spruce-fir forest," said Kevin
Joseph, fire manager. "The fires are still doing an excellent job
of cleaning up the forest floor and returning the natural fire
process to the ecosystem."
Fire managers also
checked up on the 40-acre Middle Fork Fire northwest of Pagosa on
July 3 and again on July 5. No smoke or flames were visible either
day on the fire that is also being managed for Wildland Fire
A wildfire can be
considered for Wildland Fire Use management if it is naturally
caused, does not threaten populated areas and there are sufficient
firefighting resources readily available. Fire restrictions remain
in effect in the lower elevation zone for the San Juan Public Lands
and La Plata County.
City extends free parking
Many locals benefited
from free parking in the largest municipal downtown parking lot
during the month of June. The program was so successful that the
City of Durango has extended the program into the months of July
Known as the "Car Park,"
the lot is between Seventh and Eighth streets along the east side
of Camino Del Rio. It holds up to 220 cars. About 64 percent of the
Car Park is filled during normal months. However, in June, the
occupancy rate rose beyond 90 percent. The city reported that the
lot was used by employees as well as locals doing some hassle-free
Hope Bleecker, city
transit manager, said that the move is a creative way to better
utilize existing parking spaces throughout the Central Business
District. "We are pleased that the program is successful and have
heard a lot of positive feedback," she said.
The move has had a
strong side-benefit in opening more short-term parking. Peter
Schertz, of Maria's Bookstore, noted, "When all day employees do
not park on Main, we see a direct correlation at the cash register
and a happier customer."
Donations sought for fire
Donations are needed for
interpretive signs commemorating the Missionary Ridge and Valley
fires. The signs are a partnership between the Society of American
Foresters, San Juan Public Lands Center, Colorado Forest Service
and La Plata County.
The groups have come up
a little short and need an additional $2,500 to pay for the signs.
Eventually, the signs will be placed in the new rock wall between
the La Plata CountyFairgrounds and the new ball fields. Entitled
"Summer of Flames," "Community of Heroes" and "Seasons of Healing,"
the signs describe conditions leading up to the fire, the response
of the community and the regrowth of the forest.
A dedication ceremony is
scheduled for July 28 at 11 a.m. at the fairgrounds. Donations of
any size may be sent to Society of American Foresters, c/o Colorado
State Forest Service, P.O. Box 7233,