Growth initiative goes on
The Citizens' Responsible Growth
Initiative will go to the voters this November after Durango City
Council agreed unanimously Tuesday night to reject adopting the
hotly contested proposal.
Proposed by the Friends
of the Animas Valley, the initiative would require a vote on any
residential development requiring annexation of more than 10 units
or commerical developments of more than 40,000 square
In the past, councilors
have gone on the record against the intiative, saying it would be
problematic because of the lack of similar controls outside city
limits. They also expressed concern that the initiative would
actually encourage sprawl rather than control it.
In April, council member
Virginia Castro called the initative "well-intentioned but
misguided" and said on Tuesday night she stood by that belief.
Other council members echoed her response Tuesday.
More than 70 people
packed Council Chambers on Tuesday night, with many overflowing
into the City Hall lobby to watch the proceedings on closed caption
TV. Councilors listened to almost four hours of testimony from
opponents and proponents. Local Realtor Ed Andersson came out
againt the initiative, calling it "snob zoning" and a way to keep
out the working class and young people.
After the meeting, Renee
Parsons, president of Friends of the Animas Valley, said she was
neither surprised nor upset over the council's decision.
"We actually prefer the
initative be on the ballot," said Parsons. "Because we really want
the city voters to have an opportunity to let the city know how
they feel about the direction the city is going in."
Colorado tribe files for N.M.
The Ute Mountain Indian Tribe is
making water politics in northern New Mexico interesting. On July
14, the tribe, which is centered in Towaoc, filed an ambitious
claim to water rights on the San Juan River. There is fear that the
water grab will be linked to the construction of even more Four
Corners area power plants. The tribe has claimed between 7,300 and
9,300 acre-feet of water with a priority date of 1868. The claim is
being made at the same time that the Navajo Nation is working to
settle its claims on the San Juan River.
Steve Cone, of the
Citizens' Progressive Alliance, said that the Ute claims could
muddle the Navajo settlement. "This claim has just become public in
the last few weeks, and it's coming as a rather large surprise to
the other parties in the state that have claims on the river," Cone
Cone added that the
combination of the Ute claim and the federal government's yet to be
made claim makes for a frightening future for the San Juan River.
In fact, there are now concerns that there is insufficient water in
the river to satisfy all of the parties.
"There's a huge question
about whether the water supply exists to satisfy all of the
claimants in the basin," Cone said. "With this recent revelation,
that concern is heightened. Many of us are holding our breath now
to see what claim the federal government will weigh in with. Those
claims could be sizable."
Cone added that while
the filing may seem distant from the Durango area, there has been
talk of using the water for new power plants. With three plants
currently in the review process and another two attached to the Ute
water claims, Durangoans could see major impacts to air
"Now the Utes are
talking about a new power plant right across the border, and the
Navajos are talking about another power plant south of that one,"
Comment period extended for
Bowing to a mass of public and
governmental interest, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land
Management have announced an extension of the comment period for a
proposed 273 new gas wells in the HD Mountains near Bayfield. The
agencies will now accept comments on the controversial Northern San
Juan Basin Coal Bed Methane Environmental Impact Statement for an
additional 90 days.
The Forest Service and
BLM are currently studying a preferred alternative for 273 new
natural gas wells in the region, with 25 directional wells that
would be placed inside the HD Mountains Roadless Area.
Conservationists and residents charge that these gas wells would
threaten stands of old-growth ponderosa pine, abundant wildlife and
the health and safety of their homes and families. The proposal
would also put 60 miles of new roads into a designated roadless
Mark Stiles, San Juan
National Forest supervisor, said that the extension is an effort to
accommodate citizens and governmental entities. "We've heard
requests from the Town of Bayfield and La Plata County, as well as
local citizens, that they need more time to review the draft EIS,
which is admittedly, a very large and involved document," Stiles
said."I know many citizens and representatives of industry are
working hard to prepare substantive comments on the proposal and
believe our allowing additional time for them to review the
complicated issues is appropriate."
The comment period,
which began June 10, has included a public hearing, four open
houses and two public meetings. A final public meeting, during
which interested citizens will be able to submit oral comments into
the public record, takes place from 6-9 p.m. on Aug. 19 at the San
Juan Public Lands Center. Written public comments will also now be
accepted through Nov. 30. For more information, log onto
Pot hunter busted in
An apparent antiquities smuggler was
busted two weeks ago in Bloomfield, N.M. Bureau of Land Management
agents seized more than 430 Indian artifacts estimated to be
between 300 and 8,000 years old, according to the a report in the
Farmington Daily Times .
The recovery has been called the largest on record and included
hundreds of stone tools, trade items and cookware. Among the best
items were a Din`E9tah gray pot and lid; blue and purple Spanish
trade beads; a raven effigy; and decorative ocean shells. The items
were all discovered at the Bloomfield home of 38-year-old David
The BLM said that most of the items were likely stolen from
federal and tribal lands in violation of the United States
Archeological Resource Protection Act. Many of the artifacts were
in plastic bags and appeared bound for the black market.
Mtn. Studies Institute
moves on up
The recently formed Mountain Studies
Institute is beginning to make its mark. In late July, the
organization moved into a new home in Silverton, the historic Avon
"We are thrilled to be
in the Avon and revive an old building with such great history,"
said MSI Executive Director Ellen Stein. "Now that we have a home,
we can finally announce to the world we are open for business,
offering researchers, educators and students a place to meet and a
place to stay."
The institute also has
gotten a big boost from outgoing U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell,
R-Colo., who was one of the first visitors to the institute's new
home. Campbell successfully secured a $500,000 grant in each of the
past two years for MSI and is working to land another $250,000 for
the organization in the upcoming federal budget. The monies will
support the fledgling nonprofit's operations and programs, helping
MSI move closer to its goals of supporting mountain research,
science and education.
To date, MSI has
established an extensive, educational web site; opened the San Juan
Mountains Center in Silverton, a walk-in site for public lands and
mountain information; offered a Mountain Education Series in 2003
and 2004; hosted field camps; and granted $80,000 to the Center for
Snow and Avalanche Studies and $63,000 to the San Juan County
Vallecito goes back
The Durango area is continuing to feel
the aftershocks of the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire. Early this week,
work began to reduce hazardous fuels along the east side of
Vallecito Reservoir. The effort was a two-fold attempt to eliminate
dangerous debris from the 2002 fire and prevent another fire from
sparking on approximately 160 acres.
The Forest Service asked
that people recreating in the area be alert and cautious. The work
should be completed by Dec. 1, and East Vallecito Road (Forest Road
603) will remain open, through there may be short
"It will make the area
safer in terms of wildfires, and it will clean up the partially
burned material on the ground left from the Missionary Ridge Fire,"
said Craig Goodell, assistant fire management officer. "This
project will make things more aesthetically pleasing."
compiled by Will Sands and