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Bewildered by the Broads

Dear Editors,

WOW, the Great Old Broads for Wilderness have left me completely bewildered. They travel from Utah and Colorado all the way to little, old Tubac in SUVs, most of which don’t get 20 miles to the gallon, that cost more labor and materials to make which requires more energy, emits more emissions and take up more space. Where are their Toyota Prius’ and Ford Hybrid Escapes?

Then these GOB’s (“Great Old Broads”) have the audacity to charge $130 to be in their presence (maybe it should be ROB’s, “Rich Old Broads”) while they tell us how to take care of our already well-cared-for Tumacacori Mountains.

This past Saturday, April 8, the GOB’s, absentmindedly led by members of the “Sky Island Alliance” in eight 4X4’s drove through the gate and right past the “Don’t Drive on Numberless Roads” warning sign. Forty to 50 of these well-intended but ill-informed intrepids tromped all over an area that is home to four sensitive and endangered plant species looking for equally endangered jaguars, I suppose. A bit pompous to stand a mile or two off of the freeway like Coronado, on the most convenient perimeter of the Tumacacori’s, past judgment on all of the land and claim it for themselves.

These mountains have only been ours since 1848 when the Guadeloupe Hidalgo Treaty made them U.S. property instead of Mexican land. Before then and even afterwards, they were Pima, Tumacacori and Apache Indian land as well as the multi-generational home of many there to fore Mexican families, some of whose offspring, 158 years later, still fill this community. Since then it has been miners, Jesuits, Franciscans, ranchers and farmers. In more recent times, the Tumacacori’s have become public lands and national forest. All of these people cared for the land. They always have, and they still do.

They don’t look for acclaim, get involved in political meanderings or try to fix something that isn’t broken. They just care for them in a practical way. They remove trash left by the illegals, clean out the springs, stem ero

sion along the roads and keep the underbrush from covering them.

Have the GOB’s also visited the devastation that is the Organ Pipe National Monument or the equally4 trashed Cabeza Prieta Protected Wilderness or for that matter the fire hazard known as the Superstition Wilderness? Do they know much about borderland life, of illegal aliens crossing right through areas unchecked by Border Patrol or National Security because their restrictive protectionist laws have made vehicular travel illegal?

Have they witnessed the trash, stepped in the defecation or smelled the rotting corpse of one of the many who died of exposure while trying to make a better life for their families?

Not one of the 40 or 50 people in the Sky Island Alliance Saturday unmarked trail SUV adventure bothered to get more than 300 feet away from their air-conditioned, luxo-cruisers and walk to the sights that they wish to prevent all of the rest of us from going near. “Lead by example” apparently isn’t a part of the morality that Program Director Veronica Egan professed to have in her article in the Green Valley News.

No offense intended, because I encourage last Saturday’s outing of the GOB’s. It may be the largest event of its kind ever. How often has anyone seen older women experiencing the wilderness from anything other than a passing vehicle or a Discovery Channel special?  

I salute these Great Old Broads for their energy and good intentions, but I pray that they will seek the truth and use their passion to help to preserve these beautiful mountains in a way that they can be enjoyed be all Americans, not just the ones seven generations in the future. Make all of the roads safer, preserve Rock Corral, Nuevo Corral and Camp Loco and General Crook’s heliograph sites. Identify the peoples of this land, how and where they lived, their trails and why they were useful, the archeological and natural sites, the plant and animal life and the springs. Consider balance, and intelligent management. National forest access may still be the best approach as it allows most of the best and restricts the worst. They, too, are ingrained in this very special and sacred land.

– Mike Ryan,

via e-mail

Deitch the Village

Dear Editors, Abuse or depletion of common-property resources is referred to as the tragedy of the commons. From an environmental perspective, the Village at Wolf Creek is a classic example of this tragedy. As most are aware, the Village is a huge environmental threat on many levels (e.g., biodiversity, water, etc.). This threat calls for aggressive responses and priorities. To face this threat, we need a state representative who can see the big picture, who understands the critical importance of resource protection and the relationship between environmental support systems and the economy.   We can decide to stay with politics as usual (Plan A) and hopelessly watch our beautiful commons destroyed. Although I appreciate his service in office, Joe Colgan is Plan A. Plan B is state representative candidate Jeff Deitch. For Deitch, the village is top priority. Now, more than ever, we need a seasoned litigator in office to represent the commons.    

History judges political leaders by whether or not they respond to the great issues of their time. We desperately need a leader to step forward and to rally mobilization. Jeff Deitch is that leader. I urge you to join me in voting for him. For those of you who are registered unaffiliated or Republican, please consider registering Democrat and vote in the primary. Time is of the essence – saving the commons is not a spectator sport.

–Denise Rue-Pastin,

Pagosa Springs

Keep local health care alive

To the Editors,

In the days leading up to the second of May this year, the registered voters of La Plata County have the opportunity to make one of the most important decisions about health care ever placed before them. The outcome of this election for the Health Service District will impact all of us for years to come. It is truly a historic time for the county.

As health-care providers with Durango Primary Care and Southwest Children’s Health Clinic, we comprise the doctors, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners who will provide health-care services for the La Plata County Community Health Center. The survival of this nonprofit center is at stake in the coming ballot. If the ballot initiative fails, our 8,000 patients may not have a reliable source for health care.

We see everyone regardless of their ability to pay, or the payer source. Adult medical care is our greatest challenge and is one of the main reasons the Health Service District was initiated. At Durango Primary Care, about a third of our patients have commercial insurance, 28 percent are Medicare, 11 percent Medicaid and 30 percent are either uninsured, self-pay or part of the Colorado Indigent Care Program. That 30 percent, and Medicare, result in collections that are well below what it costs to provide services. This is the reason why our clinics have lost money consistently since the mid 1990s. It is also the main reason why private practices have to limit the number of patients in those categories.

An important element of the Health Service District is about the survival of primary care and improving access, particularly for older adults. A high priority will be the recruitment and retention of adult medicine primary-care providers. By doing this, and putting a local guarantee on the quality of primary care, health care will improve for everyone. Tax dollars will go to the system, to the clinics and to the patients. And for the first time, county residents will have local control over how that happens.

Health care is like air. You cannot “opt out” of the quality of the air you breath, nor can you opt out of the quality of primary care, when your time comes to access the health-care system. If there is a flaw anywhere, it can have a serious impact on the entire4 atmosphere. And right now, primary care, the basis of our health-care system, is in serious jeopardy. The Health Service District is the only logical solution, especially if we want local control over quality and resources.

We urge all county residents to vote in favor of the Health Service District. The future of health care is at stake for us all.

– Signed: George Maxted, MD; Irene Rooney, NP; Bob McGrath, MD; Jennifer Lachman, MD; Marilyn Cieszykowski, NP; Luke Casias, MD; Marje Cristol, MD; Ellen Martin, MD; Jeff McElwain, PAC

Pioneering step for health care

Dear Editors,

Durango and the West were settled by pioneers – people with the courage and spirit to face the challenges of this part of the country and triumph. While a fundamental principle of the pioneer spirit was self reliance, an equally fundamental principle was to help your neighbor when they were in need. The people who came here before us knew that life had its challenges and adversity could strike anyone. That is why they depended on each other. That is also why we depend on each other today, and that is why the subtitle of the Health Service District campaign is “Local People Solving Local Health Care Problems.”

Will the Health Service District cost property owners more? Sure – for an entire year it will cost all of one tank of gas or one dinner out. Will property owners bear the cost of this? Sure, but a sales tax base in not legally possible and sales tax revenues go up and down too much to provide the stability of support needed.

Will the value of the Health Service District to our community be worth the cost? One call to the “Ask-a-Nurse,” the peace of mind knowing that if your doctor leaves another will be there to take you right away, one mental health crisis contact, a couple of days of in-home care – use any one of these and you have gotten more than your money’s worth.

Nothing will happen to you and you won’t need any of these resources? Maybe not, and I hope not. If we or our three children do not ever need any of these services we are still proud to support the Health Service District because our neighbors will need it. We are all in this together. The healthier everyone is, the better and healthier our community is economically and in terms of our collective quality of life.

Let’s take care of each other. It is part of our heritage and part of what makes our country great. Please join us in voting to create a Health Service District for the benefit of us all.

– Bern and Deb Heath,




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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

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January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows