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 Broad appreciation from AZ

Dear Editors,

They came from Utah and Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Idaho, from California and Massachusetts, 27 Great Old Broads for Wilderness eager to enjoy the beauty of the Tumacacori Highlands in Southern Arizona. No motor homes or campers for this hardy group, they slept under the stars or in small tents. They shared a love of the outdoors and wild places and a concern for our public lands.

On a recent long weekend, I was privileged to participate in a memorable event. Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a nationwide wilderness advocacy group, held a “Broadwalk” (camping event with hikes, talks by people knowledgeable about the area and a service project), at a beautiful U.S. Forest Service campground below Pena Blanca Lake. It was organized by the small central office (two employees) of Great Old Broads in Durango with the help of local volunteers. What a terrific job they did! Our food was prepared and served by Paracutin Restaurant out of Nogales. We were so pleased to support a local business, and the food was terrific. The evening of our arrival, Don Garate and Anita Badertscher, from Tumacacori National Historic Park, gave a living history presentation, made especially effective in the dark with just a couple of lanterns for light. After a talk by Keith Graves, district ranger for the Nogales District of the National Forest Service, on the first morning, we did a service project for the Forest Service consisting of fence mending and trash pickup. Keith Graves and employee Rudy Ronquillo were so very helpful to us. We had a bird talk and walks presented by Larry Leisle, of the Tucson Audubon Society. There were wonderful talks by two people from Sky Island Alliance, Mike Quigley about the Wilderness Proposal for the Tumacacori Highlands and by Sergio Avila concerning the jaguars in Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora. There were talks by Melyssa Watson, of Wilderness Support Center; Rod Mondt, with the American Lands Alliance; Jen Schmidt, with Campaign for America’s Wilderness (and a GOB Board member); and Kate McKay, of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition, bringing us up to date on some current issues. Kevin Dahl, executive director of Native Seeds/Search, based in Tucson, talked with us regarding that organization and the chiltepin (native chile plant) population in the Tumacacoris. Native Seeds/Search has been studying that population for years and was instrumental in getting protection for that local population.4 

These plants are rare in the U.S. and reach their northern populations here and in the Baboquiviris to the west. We piled into the few SUVs members of the group had and carpooled to the area in Rock Corral Canyon where these plants are found. Kevin and Native Seeds/Search have a special-use permit so that they may drive into the area. He also took Bob Edwards, of NPR, into the area recently. We were able to find plants with the tiny chiles remaining from last year. The remainder of the time was spent in hikes to Atascosa Lookout, Sycamore Canyon and other local areas. There were enough local volunteers to guide us in small groups, which gave us the opportunity to get to know each other and enjoy the spectacular wild country. I was privileged to hike to Atascosa Lookout with a small group that included the oldest member of the event and the founding “mother” of Great Old Broads. She climbs mountains, river rafts and hikes. When we arrived at the lookout she was sitting, enjoying the view as the rest of us panted up the trail.

I have always wanted to attend a Broadwalk, having been a member for many years. What a treat to meet these strong, older (50 and over mainly) women from all over the country and with such different backgrounds – a hospice nurse and others in the health field, retired teachers, a retired real estate broker, an outfitter, a computer person and many others. It was an unforgettable experience.

– Roberta Stabel, Tumacacori, Ariz.

Protest is for the troops

Dear Editors,

Characterizing peace marchers as being pro Saddam is naïve to say the least. I personally know no one who is not glad that Saddam has been incarcerated and is on trial. That said, the end does not necessarily justify the means. Lincoln lost his second bid for Congress in all probability because he cast a dissenting vote on the Mexican war. He went on, as we all know, to become commander in chief in America’s bloodiest war.

Harry Truman relieved Douglas MacArthur of command in Korea because he crossed the 38th parallel in defiance of UN mandates and briefly brought China into the war. Truman, a WWI veteran, was no coward and certainly not a friend of Chairman Mao’s, but he knew a land war in Asia would be folly. Three presidents and Winston Churchill refrained from going to war with the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin even though he annexed several countries and was infamous for his purges that left millions dead or unjustly imprisoned. They instead opted for containment and Churchill coined “Iron Curtain” to describe the policy that became also known as the “Cold War.” They were all aware that the cost in blood and treasure after WWII was priced way too high.

Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq veteran and double amputee from Illinois, will be running against her former commander in chief’s policies in November’s elections along with dozens of other returning veterans including Jay Fawcett of Colorado.

The real irony is that the Bush Republicans support their financial base, not the troops. Americans that make over a million a year got their tax cuts, shifting the burden for paying for this war to the poor and middle class citizens. China and our other foreign creditors are financing the Iraq war in the short term. In the long term, our grandchildren will pay. The administration is for the first time in our history cutting taxes during a war. The good news is that people are starting to get it.

– A Colorado Veteran for America, Jim Mooney, Durango

Enhance local health care

Dear Editors,

I urge everyone to vote yes on the issue of the Health Services District. Although both the issue that has been studied and the response proposed in the Health Services District plan are necessarily complex, the outcome of voter approval will be simple – more health-care services will be available.

The initial problem has been well documented, both quantitatively and anecdotally. A study completed last summer by a nationally recognized evaluation firm has confirmed that our area is lacking in providers of adult primary care services and in urgent psychiatric care. Nearly 10 hours of testimony heard at three public hearings convened by the La Plata County commissioners provide dozens of examples of individuals who could not get primary care or mental health services because those services did not exist in our communities. It could well be that this problem is national in origin, but to believe that we can not or should not take action locally is to badly underestimate the character of the citizens of La Plata County.

The Health Services District will accomplish what it is designed to do: increase the availability of primary care, mental health, and preventive care services for residents of La Plata County. The district will be a modest investment with a tangible positive result for everyone. Please take this step to improve the quality of our lives in La Plata County. Vote yes on the Health Services District.

– Eileen Wasserbach, via e-mail

Vote ‘yes’ for the children

Dear Editors,

Are you interested in helping every single child in La Plata County have the best start possible? Do you realize that when parents are poor or irresponsible, children may suffer in ways that cost us all later? Then, I ask you to vote yes for the Health Service District.   If passed, the services funded will greatly benefit children because: sickness and injury are the top reasons children miss school, and health-prevention programs work; immunizations services in the outlying parts of the county will be expanded Colorado ranks 44th in immunizations and credible sources cite under-funding of public health systems as the top reason; prenatal care and in-home nurse visitation services to new parents will be improved, especially for families experiencing some type of difficulty such as substance abuse, domestic violence or other factors that place babies and very young children at significant risk; parents will have more places to seek assistance to ensure the health and well being of their children other than the emergency room, which is a very costly place to seek such services; prenatal care and immunizations are good investments as they save millions of dollars in later health-care costs; the proposed Ask-A-Nurse hotline will be invaluable for new parents wondering what to do in an unknown health -are situation; and mental health problems are being identified in too many children and teens (yes, in La Plata County) and often, their families lack insurance or resources for counseling – the Health Service District plan lays out strategies to keep sliding scale fees reachable, especially for uninsured families.

The La Plata County It’s About Kids Advocacy Network has worked for over eight years to improve the lives of all children, and we support the Health Service District. It’s good for kids. It’s good for working families. It’s good for you! Please vote yes to establish the District and fund it with a 1.7 mill levy.

– Barbara Dodds, It’s About Kids Advocacy Network, Durango

End the local health care crisis

Dear Editors,

As a retired nurse I am increasingly disturbed by the worsening health-care crisis not only nationally, but more specifically here in La Plata County. Many patients can not access a primary care provider even though they may have coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. Psychiatric patients needing inpatient care are being transported out of the county. Preventive care at San Juan Basin Health has suffered from continuing budget cuts.

Locally, these are issues the proposed La Plata County Health Service District will address. A detailed service plan exists to create a special district with a stable, dependable revenue source. A modest tax increase of 1.7 mill is proposed. Careful accountability measures are built into this plan so funds are used wisely. A specific budget exists. Visit the website www.hsdlaplata.org to get the facts, to read the answers to the “Frequently Asked Questions,” to become familiar with the committee of concerned citizens who created this proposal and care about health care for everyone. Be informed. And vote YES to establish and fund the La Plata County Health Service District.

– Dianne Donovan, Durango

A vehicle for solutions

Dear Editors,

The upcoming vote on the Health Service District is an important one for La Plata County and deserves your support. Yes, it means a small increase in your property taxes. More importantly it provides a flow of funds and an open process that allows the County’s residents to have a voice in addressing the pressing health-care problems they face each day. It provides local people a vehicle to create local solutions to our specific needs and takes health care out of the political realm of Denver and Washington. I believe that every resident of La Plata County will benefit from the increased availability of services in primary care, preventive care and mental health, if not now someday in the future. I encourage you to vote “yes” on May 2.

– Richard Risk, Mancos