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Legend of the River of Lost Souls, Part 3

Dear Editors,

On their journey down The River of Lost Souls, Boat Man, Cataraft Man and their passengers have reached Santa Rita Park, and must look across the river.

“What is this hideous thing?” asked the Valley People.

“This is The Great Absurdity – the Animas La Plata Project,” said Boat Man.

The County People cringed in horror. “Who are these huge monsters that devour our land?”

“They call themselves BuRec – the Bureau of Reclamation,” said Boat Man. “All other peoples call them the BuWreck.”

“They are the descendants of Rube Goldberg,” said Trailer Woman. “For many years, they have multiplied and spread across the West. At river after river, they brought their bulldozers to scrape the land and pile it up to stop the rivers from flowing. Now there are only a few rivers, like our own River of Lost Souls, left to stop.

“The Great Absurdity is their Holy Grail – the Last of the Big Dam Projects; the last of the Big Water Stoppages.”

“We were raised to believe the Gospel of the West,” said the Valley People. “The Gospel of the West says that dams are a good thing, for as the water falls through the dam, it makes power.  Power is good.”

“Perhaps,” said Boat Man. “But The Great Absurdity will make no power. The Great Absurdity only consumes power. For water is heavy, and it takes great amounts of power to push it up over a hill. In fact, so much power will have to be purchased to push this water uphill, it is said that each night, Ready Kilowatt turns handsprings across the Western skies.”

“Pushing water uphill is Greatly Absurd,” agreed the

Valley People. “But at least this dam will provide water storage. The Gospel of the West says that water storage is always good. When the dry times come, and all others are thirsty, the city people will be able to drink from this stored water.”

“Only if they hike up over the hill with a cup,” said Boat Man. “The water will not flow back to the city, for their use. It can only flow back down into the river, many miles south of the city.”

“This, too, is Greatly Absurd,” said the Valley4 

People, puzzled. “Of what use, then, is this Great Absurdity?”

“An excellent question,” said the Learned Man of the Law. “The Law of the Land requires that before you can stop and hold the water for yourself, you must identify a use. But here, those who stop and keep the water have found no use for it.”

“Alas, the Law of the Land does not apply to The Great Absurdity,” said Boat Man.

“For it is not water that flows in – it is money. Money from every man, woman and child in this country. First it was $350 million dollars. And then it leaped to $620 million. In the end, it will be billions.”

“But this will be a very good thing –  all this money brought to our city and our valley!”  The eyes of the Valley People and the County People glowed with happiness at the thought of all the good that these millions could bring.

“No,” said Boat Man. “For, like the water, the money flows not for the good of the people. The money flows to Those Whose Greed is Greatest – the lawyers and lobbyists called Water Buffaloes. It flows to the Dark One of Washington, who dined at finest restaurants at the expense of others for many years so that the Great Absurdity could be built.”

“In his honor, the water will be called Lake Nighthorse,” said Trailer Woman.

“This will not be a true lake!” protested Cataraft Man. “The land is too broad and flat. The water will never be deep enough!”

“It will be a fitting tribute to the man called Nighthorse,” said Boat Man solemnly.  

“A fitting tribute?” exclaimed the Valley People. “How can that be? It will be shallow, and filled with muck!”

“Precisely,” said Trailer Woman.

– Willow Woman,

via e-mail

Put an end to secret spraying

Dear Editors,

As mothers of young children, we are concerned about the unknown effects of the chemicals sprayed to eradicate mosquitoes on developing children. We would like to request that the local mosquito districts begin to post spraying times and locations in local media so we can close windows and make sure our children and pets are inside.

– Rachel Turiel Hinds, Sue Kaplan, Melanie Mckinney- Gonzales, Rebecca G. Crouch, Amy Montano, Julie Korb, Pam Marshall and Beth Christie

Turning theory into practice

Dear Editors,

It should not have been a surprise to see that we were slated as the last item of business on Monday night’s Planning Commission’s agenda. Regardless, almost a dozen neighbors and friends waited patiently for several hours to express their concerns about the proposed subdivision and added request for a parking variance for the property located at 250 East Park Avenue.

With a final vote of 3-2 against the applicant’s request, this is a moment of celebration. Though it may be for only a brief moment, due to the possibility of an appeal from the applicant, this letter is one of appreciation and thanksgiving.

Many, many thanks to all of you – Kathrene, Joe, Kerry, Jim, Mike, Julie, Jessie, Tanya, Jen, Cris, Todd, Nancy, Ryan, Kyle, Randy, Ron, Renee, Will, Tom, Bill, and a very special thanks to Alice, Marguerite, Mary Kay – for your time, energy and support to help retain this neighborhood’s integrity and to take positive steps to preserve its historic qualities.

I’d also like to thank the members of the city of Durango’s Planning Commission for their time and careful consideration regarding this application. Words of appreciation hardly seem enough to thank those members on Planning Commission who, after thorough examination, took the first step to begin to bridge that gap in favor of new and more sustainable land use codes. (The same land use codes that have been reviewed and discussed every two weeks at the city of Durango’s Residential Infill Design workshops. Dates are to be posted regularly on the city’s website, www.durangogov.org. )

With each vote, these members demonstrated their strong desire to begin to apply theory into practice to not only maintain Durango’s neighborhoods but to take the necessary steps that will ensure preservation of this historic town for future generations to enjoy.

“If we maintain the present, we are certain to lose a better future. To seize that better future, we must go beyond what is considered best today.” —Out of the Box, Gunter Pauli.

– M’Lissa Story,


Fight the power 

Dear Editors,

The current media attention to our poor air quality and the threat of additional power plants is encouraging. The more information the public gets on our polluting “neighbors” to the south the better. Our quality of air is getting worse and worse. It is especially noticeable when climbing in the La Platas or the San Juans and encountering a haze that obscures the vista from any given summit. Let your county commissioners and City Council members know that you want them to play an active role in opposing the proposed new power plants – not only for the beauty of our area but for the health of our citizens. On a somewhat smaller (but much more local) scale, there is something very simple that each one of us can do to improve our air quality – when you exit your car turn off the engine. Not only is an idling car creating air and noise pollution but it is also illegal, there is an ordinance in Durango which states that no motor vehicle can be left running while unattended. Best yet, leave your car at home whenever possible. And then there is the train …

– Linda Bunk,




In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows