Our letters section and your opportunity to weigh in and be heard. Send us your thoughts and profundities. You can contact us here.

A call to arms

Dear Editors,

Reading last week's top story, preserving our roadless areas and open space is an ongoing problem and constant fight. It's so unfortunate that our government is disregarding the future of our lands and allowing corporate greed to intervene. Several years ago, Earth First! members took action and started driving spikes into pine trees in the HD Mountains to preserve those old growth stands from invading oil company activity. It worked for a while, since the companies' employees were in grave danger while operating chainsaws. I think the only way our government will listen to the people of America nowadays is when we stand up to the redneck-oilman president with anything that will deter/delay development of our natural treasures. It's never good conduct in resorting to Earth First! or ELF tactics, but if guerilla warfare raises brows and concern, then so it be! A call to arms, the war has started!

DL Ortiz,
via e-mail

Safe passage to Raider Ridge

Dear Editors,

Our family lives in Hillcrest Greens. I am writing in support of the Raider Ridge Trail that is being discussed.

Being an eight-year Durango resident, I started mountain biking only a few of years ago. I had seen the "scars" (trails) above Chapman Hill area, and felt that these trails were really unsightly. I was then introduced to the Durango Mountain Park trails and some of the trails off Goeglein and up toward FLC, Animas Mountain and Horse Gulch. These trails were so well conceived, designed, built and maintained

that I did not even know they existed, and with minor exceptions, they remain so now. Trails CAN be built that are virtually invisible and are responsibly maintained.

We have two young children who can't walk very far before tiring out. My wife and I own our own business and therefore have very limited free time. Thus, if we want to hike with the kids we must drive to the Horse Gulch area, or over to the college or to the Durango Mountain Park. We love to hike with our kids but would like a trailhead within walking distance where we could actually get up on Raider Ridge, where we could see town and the beauty of the distant mountains.

As for the danger of multi-user trails, I have hiked and biked hundreds of miles around here. I have had many encounters with others, including a few "tricky" close calls, but they have all been handled with consideration, apologies and no hard feelings. I have always shared the philosophy that we are all here to respect and enjoy the outdoors, and that includes giving each other kindness and "safe passage."

Matt Falkenstein,
via email

Don't take voting for granted

Dear Editors,

I recently got back from Ghana, West Africa. After decades of military coups and dictatorships, Ghanaians finally voted in a free election in 2000. That was just four years ago. Ghana today is a vibrant, loud, argumentative democracy where everyone has an opinion and everyone considers it a PRIVILEGE to vote in elections (and not have to risk their lives to do so).

We are spoiled here in the U.S. We take our democracy and our chances to vote for granted. Most of us ignore election days: only 7 percent of Coloradoans bothered voting in the 2002 Primary. No wonder we get candidates we don't respect. This year,democracy begins on Aug. 10 when we are allowed to go to the primaries to decide on candidates for the November ballot. It is your primary right to vote on Aug. 10; 4 make it your primary responsibility.

Pick the candidate for U.S. Senate who is working unbelievably hard in this race because he is such a committed public servant, not the paid politicians or the corporate bigwig. Pick the guy who has worked his whole life as a soldier, a diplomat and an educator. Pick the guy who is a true patriot: the man who's in this race for you, not for himself. Pick the guy whose commanding officer once said he has, "Bedrock integrity, unsurpassed moral courage and standards."

Pickthe guy you can respect. On Aug. 10, pick Mike Miles for US Senate. See you at the polls.

Anne Markward-

via email

The selling of Durango

To the editor,

Referring to Mr. Evans' letter in the Soapbox of July 8,'04, perhaps "Friends" (of Animas Valley) intend to treat the valley and residents as friends, someone and something you treat as you want to be treated, not someone to manipulate or ignore, and something to profiteer from. Finding "traction" was nothing more than channeling desperation felt by people here, as they watched power brokers sell Durango out from under us. What RTR would have deprived all of us of, amongst other things, is safe passage on limited roadways of Durango. The vistas saved at Kroeger Ranch are ones that have been known for ages by those who come and deposit their money in Durango yearly.

That River Trails Ranch would provide housing for those with "moderate" income is an ongoing joke and marketing manipulation. Sounds good, too bad it is simply a store-front picture with no real meaning. Families biking to work already risk their lives in the ever more dangerous traffic accepted by most urban dwellers. The dream of a consolidated, urbanized, civilized Durango is a developer/Realtor dream, and a nightmare for common folk.

Do we want more trophy homes? I vote for taxing trophy home builders an extreme bundle for squandering our finite resources; forests (lumber), water and energy (more coal-fired power plants to satiate greed). No friend of Durango prefers this company, and it can be avoided. One of my customers remarked to me that in 1990, greed moved to Durango. I witnessed it next to me, and I still see it daily. Even too many old-timers have succumbed. Sell Durango, make a bunch of bucks. Make Durango an important star on the map. How important we are.

We've all heard the argument that this is a republic, not a democracy. OK, fine. When this government ignores the will of the people, it's time for the people to lead. We have local governments rife with "old boy" networks, selling out Durango left and right. Now that's a short-term objective with no accountability for bad outcomes. Whom can we trust? Whom can we respect?

It is the people that we have not elected, those in positions to determine our future, that manipulate those we have elected, and us, that we need to oppose. The initiative by the "Friends" is the first viable alternative I've heard of to counter the selling out of our water, our forests, our agricultural lands, our wild lands and our energy sources to satiate the power and wealth of modern marketing brokers. Let's preserve freedom for our children and their children. We can do it. You go, Friends!

Kassandra Johnson,


A different take on Los Alamos

Dear Editors,

I read with interest the letter you published last week, from Ms. Parker who reports democracy triumphant in Los Alamos.

I agree wholeheartedly with her, that elected representatives who do not fulfill their mandates should not (indeed, will not) be returned to office. I even advocated that outcome in my last letter, for those who felt that way about the present Durango City Council.

On the other hand, it is erroneous political thought to say that elected public officials must "execute the will of a majority of the people." They take no such oath and have no such obligation, political or ethical. Their elected terms, and varied responsibilities, allow them to adopt majoritarian positions sometimes, and minority positions other times. The time between elections, and the many subjects they must weigh in on, allow elected officials to make unpopular decisions sometimes, but not all the time.

This is because the founding fathers understood, what many of us never knew, that many majoritarian decisions are bad ones.

Now I have no doubt that things work differently in Los Alamos. Indeed, issues of growth and expansion which stimulate and trouble Durango are moderated there, by its remoteness and strenuous topography. The remarkable educational achievements of all those PhDs is negatively correlated with numbers of offspring, so their small families don't need the extra room that burgeoning families of less intellectual Durangoans may require. Social skills haven't been a strong suit for hyperintellectuals, so they may be a little less attractive to new neighbors than we robust and physical Durangoans. And of course, in Los Alamos they're forgetful (especially of the location of classified data, see New York Times, p. 1., July 16, 2004) and tend to budgetary largess with others'' funds (see Wall Street Journal , "Advisory Panel to Set Criteria to Run Los Alamos Lab," May 12, 2004).

These last traits might be particularly characteristic of participants in a true democracy, where there is no accountability at election time. No wonder it has sprung up in Los Alamos.

Robert Evans,

via e-mail





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