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

Another view of Long Hollow

Dear Editors,

This letter responds to the article by Will Sands in the Aug. 12 issue of the Durango Telegraph entitled "Salazar pulled into reservoir debate."

The La Plata Water Conservancy District (District), a totally separate conservancy district from the Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District, is extremely disappointed that an article so full of blatant misstatements was published in what purports to be an independent publication, without checking the facts with the individuals attacked in the article. Because the Long Hollow Reservoir ("LHR") Project is of statewide concern, the issue has involved officials at all level of government.

The La Plata Basin is chronically water-short. Because of the current five-year drought, domestic wells are going dry, and Colorado water officials have had to shut off senior ditches that have not been shut off in decades. New Mexico water users are also short of water, which has lead to disagreements between the states. LHR is, therefore, of statewide significance as a means to help resolve interstate Compact issues and avoid interstate litigation. Colorado has been working diligently with New Mexico to resolve differences which have existed for a number of years. Mr. Doe's claim of corruption is scurrilous and without any basis in fact. The real issues revolve around compliance with Colorado water law and Colorado's compliance with its obligations under the La Plata River Compact.

The LHR Project is totally independent of the Animas-La Plata Project (ALP). After the 2000 Congressionally enacted compromise removed all irrigation features from the ALP including any additional water supplies for the water-short La Plata Basin the District sponsored a study to find methods to improve the efficiency of water use in the Basin. The study found that more storage on the La Plata River would allow better management of Colorado deliveries to New Mexico under the La Plata River Compact and more reliable water supplies for existing Colorado users.

Consequently, the District asked for and received funding to study the feasibility of the Long Hollow Reservoir project through a grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, approved in an open public meeting and then approved by the Colorado General Assembly. If the project is found feasible, the District will seek construction funding through the Colorado Water and Power Development Authority another public entity, which acts in open public meetings.

Contrary to the gross misstatements in the article, 4 the beneficiaries of the LHR Project include over 300 irrigators, who own shares or water rights in the over 18 La Plata River ditches that will receive additional irrigation deliveries with the project in place. Sen. Jim Isgar, only one of the many irrigators, owns approximately 1 percent of the water in 1 of the 18 ditches, and is only a minor beneficiary of the LHR, contrary to the mis-information reported by the Telegraph . In addition, La Plata River Basin irrigators will benefit from the LHR Project because there will be improved administration of the La Plata River Compact and basin water rights. Domestic water users, whose wells depend on ditch return flows, will also benefit.

Several agencies, which may not have understood fully the manner in which the LHR Project will be operated, provided their concerns about the LHR to the Army Corps of Engineers. Those comment letters lead to numerous productive and ongoing District conferences with many of the commenting agencies to resolve agency concerns, including the State of New Mexico, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Because some of the comments raised issues concerning interstate compact administration and the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program for endangered fish, the District consulted with the Colorado agencies most involved with those issues including the State Engineer's Office, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the Attorney General's Office.

The funds which may be used for the LHR construction project after further review in public meetings are less than one-third of the funds that the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority escrowed to provide for Colorado's share of ALP construction. These much reduced escrowed funds are designated to be used to assist the irrigators on the La Plata River, who, in 2000, sacrificed their prospects for an increased water supply from ALP in order to allow the settlement of the reserved water rights of the two Ute Indian Tribes to succeed. To achieve accuracy and maintain credibility, the Telegraph should have talked to actual La Plata River water users before accepting the definition of "common good" advocated by one man who lives in the Denver suburbs, not the La Plata Basin.

Respectfully submitted

Brice F. Lee, president

La Plata Water Conservancy District

(Editors' reply: The alleged blatant misstatements in the aforementioned article were all attributed to the Citizens' Progressive Alliance and its chair Phil Doe. The Durango Telegraph was merely reporting on what could be a significant conflict of interest and in no way was leveling charges of its own. As for the claims that the interests of La Plata River water users were neglected, Brice Lee was contacted for an earlier story on Long Hollow Reservoir and those interests were discussed in depth. In fact, the first portion of the story reported on those interests and the stated intent of the reservoir in a thorough manner.)

Initiative needs to lighten up

Dear Editors,

The Responsible Growth Initiative is dividing our community and that saddens me. I think both sides agree that what we ultimately want is to preserve the quality of life in Durango. I agree that growth needs to be managed and planned. The proposed growth initiative is asking the City to stop population growth. That is absurd. We need to wake up and face reality. Durango is a great place to live and people around the globe understand that. People will continue to move to Durango for all the reasons that the rest of us did. We can't close the door behind us. Instead we have to be smart about it and plan for the inevitable.

FACT: The population of Durango will grow. So, the Citizens for Responsible Growth need to lighten up on City Council and give them the opportunity to do their job. The City Council's job is to keep their eye on the big picture and make hard decisions based on the City's Comprehensive Plan.

If the growth initiative passes, development will happen in a haphazard manner with no big-picture perspective. The voters will be asked to look at each proposed development through a tunnel without consideration of how it affects the whole. I don't want that to happen. I want someone who has read and understands the City Comprehensive Plan making those decisions. Will the voters take on that responsibility? I doubt it!

I agree that something needs to be done to plan for growth, but it cannot be done without the cooperation between City and County officials. I believe this growth initiative will negatively impact all of us. As a citizen who will be affected, I want a voice and a vote. But because this was brought as a City-only initiative, I have to sit back and watch a small percentage of the population decide the fate of my quality of life. Please VOTE NO!

Tina Pernosky, Durango

Following in Georgia's footsteps

Dear Editors:

I first became involved with the Georgia O'Keeffe Art and Leadership for Girls Program through a friend at the Durango Arts Center. The program was established in 2002 by the DAC and the Women's Resource Center. Jules Masterjohn and Beth Christie co-created this program, and it has served over 60 young women to date. Students may attend Saturday workshops during the school year or a two-week Summer Arts Intensive in June. These classes allow middle-school girls to work with professional female artists, using high-quality materials to create a variety of projects.

This year, the Summer Arts Intensive included drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, sculpture, theatre, dance, photography and creative writing. The women I worked with are fabulously funny and creative. The G.O.A.L. Teaching Team for this year's Summer Arts Intensive included Sandra Butler (Sculpture), Kit Frost (Photography), Caroline Reeves Johnson (Printmaking), Karen Pittman (Collage), Erika Wilson Golightly 4 (Dance), Jane Steele (Painting and Drawing), and myself. We were greatly assisted by our intern, Hallie Taylor, who attended all the classes with the girls and got to know them well.

If you know a young woman who would benefit from this program, nomination forms can be found at the Durango Arts Center and the Women's Resource Center. The deadline for nomination is Sept. 11. Fall art workshops begin Oct. 2, with classes Saturdays through Nov. 20 at the Durango Arts Center.

A limited number of scholarships are available. Approximately 40 percent of the students require financial assistance. There is an ongoing need for contributions to the G.O.A.L. Scholarship Fund. Donations are tax-deductible and can be given to the Women's Resource Center or the Durango Arts Center. I urge the members of our community to become involved with this excellent program immediately. It is a life-changing experience for students and instructors alike.

Molly J. Anderson-Childers

G.O.A.L. creative writing instructor

An idea for curbing growth

Dear Editors,

With the impending "growth control initiative" on the horizon and the influx of supporting letters to thispaper, I ask to offer an opposing view.

In response to encroaching development pressures caused by rapid population increases, some communities attempt to secure their borders against newcomers by imposing growth controls. Unfortunately, these growth controls contribute to escalating land costs and housing prices in preferred locations where developmental pressures are greatest. To some extent, higher land prices are an inevitable consequence of increased competition for scarce land in growing areas. But the effects of the natural market forces are compounded by regulatory barriers, driving land and housing prices still higher.

Resorting to devices such as the voter control initiative may temporarily alleviate the problems of congestion and air and water quality and reduce the strain on local facilities and services. However, in reality, the controls merely exacerbate the problems that opponents of growth are hoping to contain. For example, when development is forced to leap-frog over jurisdictions that institute these controls, congestion in the region actually worsens because more traffic is generated by the longer trips required.

When a few select communities in an area adopt development strategies designed to minimize congestion and avoid what they see as overuse of their facilities or degradation of their aesthetic environment, they simply shift congestion and other tangible burdens of development onto their neighbors. But no one community can unilaterally reduce the total growth of its area by adopting growth-limiting policies within its own borders.

All growth-limiting policies adopted by one community simply displace the same amount of growth to other communities. Therefore, all such policies are essentially "beggar-thy-neighbor" policies. They do not solve any problems associated with or caused by growth, but simply move them around within the general area.

Although the proponents of the initiative claim that it is direct democracy in action and it gives citizens more of a voice in how the community will grow, in reality, it is a group who would throw up gates at the county line in an attempt to preserve their bucolic paradise if given the opportunity. The reality is that growth is coming, and all the voter initiatives and no-growth policies will not stop it. Statements of 40,000 potential Durango residents being unacceptable are elitist. If the Friends of the Animas Valley and other associated groups really want to curb growth, they should stand on the corner and distribute condoms.

Scott Mason, San Diego, via e-mail




News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index