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Get a grip on predator control

Dear friends,

The idea of predator control in the Weminuche Wilderness termed, “Internal Housekeeping,” has got to be one of the most idiotic proposals I have ever heard of (Well, give or take a few other government actions concerning planet Earth). I damn-near spit my coffee out through my nose when I read this article this morning (Telegraph, July 13).

Our tax dollars going to subsidize the aerial sniping, poisoning and ATV hunting of the wondrous furry critters that call this beautiful forest their home is just plain wrong! I can’t even comprehend what on God’s green Earth these numbskulls are thinking. This is murder!!!

Forest Service? Wildlife Service? Shouldn’t the word “service” imply some sort of beneficial action, or type of stewardship, to the parties that they oversee, such as a forest or wildlife?

Everybody knows, or should know, that life exists through predator-prey cycles, whether you kill your own food or buy it already killed and packaged. Wildlife, in conjunction with such predator-prey systems, is quintessential to ecosystems in the wilderness, duh! See the pretty doe munching on the flowers?

I strongly believe, in fact I demand, that ranchers who choose to lease public lands for cattle grazing should assume the risk of losing a few livestock members to wild animals without compensation. After all, these wealthy beef producers have chosen to place their cash cows in a forest where predators lived before them. It’s as simple as that.

I myself have been subject to the dangers of living in close proximity to wildlife. A bobcat recently chased my kitty through my front yard, and on one occasion it even jumped on my dog. Luckily, everybody survived, including Felis rufus. No, he didn’t get shot. Just the other day, a big, baby bear ripped apart my humming bird feeders to swill delicious nectar that I put out in his kitchen.

Well, now we do things differently. Our dogs wear bear bells when we carouse in the woods on pleasure walks, and I climb a ladder to hang the bird feeders, hopefully out of reach. Also, in the early morning, I check the grounds with an occasional “yahoo!” before letting the pets run out into the forest to play.

Hopefully, the bears and wildcats will have gone away before the humans arrive. These are just simple adaptations people have to make when we choose to interact with wildlife.

Oh senators and congressmen, please heed the call! Don’t let them murder all the wild critters that make the wilderness such an awesome place to see. Please make them stop.

– Love, Siobhan Hammack, La Posta Canyon


A dramatic and visionary step

Dear Editors,

Kudos to the city staff for taking the initiative to apply for a recreational water right for the Animas River. Historically, water in Colorado has been controlled and manipulated by a club of traditional users who believe that the only good water is that which is taken out of the river. On July 24, a dramatic and visionary step was taken by the City – one that looks to the future rather than the past. It is unfortunate that the Colorado Water Conservation Board and several protestors do not have the ability to look beyond their rear view mirror.

The hearing was a proforma exercise as it is widely believed that the CWCB will deny the City of Durango’s application for a recreational water right for the Animas River. But it was interesting theatre as the usual cadre of water engineers and lawyers proclaimed impending ruin. Not likely unless the Front Range lawyers get their way and divert our water upstream. The next step will be water court, which will cost you and me money that does not need to be spent. Lawyers will get riche, and the river will wait. Neanderthal thinking about water takes time to change, but an amazing convergence of events occurred to give hope. Young people, parents, conservationists and concerned citizens stood up and spoke for the Animas River during the public comment period.

While it is impossible to predict what will happen to the City’s efforts to protect the future of the Animas River and the economy it generates, it is important to realize that people will step up against bureaucracy and entrenched interests and speak up for doing the right thing. We got beat up pretty bad by the A-LP debacle, but this is our town, our future, and the RICD makes good economic sense – to the tune of $19 million annually. I can only hope that some members of our community listened to what the people were saying and realized that they need to look forward and not backward if we are to provide a legacy for generations to come.

– Dave Wegner, Durango

The real predators

To the Editors:

Predator damage in the wilderness? Who’s the predator?

Please, take 10 minutes – a coffee break – to send your comments to the Forest Service on its proposal, “Predator Damage Management in Wilderness Areas.”

You can read the proposal by Googling “Federal Register” and inputting “page 32915-32918,” and reviewing a summary of points at www.wawild.org/action/action_helicopterhunting.html

Less than 3 percent of continental U.S. lands remain wilderness, 5 percent when Alaska is added. This is the extent of the land we’ve chosen to leave future generations so they might know what once existed. But at least we’ve preserved something, thanks to the Wilderness Act of 1964.

Now enters the U.S. Forest Service. The agency wants to allow use of poisons and aerial gunning of bears, bobcats, mountain lions, wolves and other animals. It wants to land aircraft and move motorized vehicles into wilderness terrain. This includes the San Juans.

The Forest Service is proposing that predators be controlled for commercial interests, to achieve “game management,” which ignores all the taxpayer-funded scientific studies over the last 20 years fully illustrating how predators enhance the numbers of healthy game animals, while increasing the health of ecosystems. Yellowstone is a stellar example.

Further, authority for decisions would be given over to Wildlife Services, (an Orwellian rename of Animal Damage Control) and other unnamed “collaborative groups,” which means the public would lose the ability to comment on or appeal decisions.

Wilderness, defined in the Wilderness Act as “untrammeled by man” and preserved in trust by the federal government for the American people “in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness” will be lost to management for contemporary special interests.

Oppose this proposal in its entirety. Comments must be received by Aug. 7. An extension of the comment period has been requested, but this can’t be counted on. You’ll be writing the director of Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Resources. Contact: PDM@fs.fed.us

– Nancy Jacques, Durango

Thanks for the cyber-scoop

Dear Editors,

Great job for scooping the Durango Herald

Having lived in Durango, and having children there, I anxiously looked for a story this afternoon about the El Rancho fire. You were the first one with one on line.

– Thanks, Arthur G. Pulis, III Wickenburg, Ariz.

Of fire and fate

Dear Editors,

Why couldn’t it have been Joel’s?

– Kynan Kelly, Durango

View from Rally in the Rockies

Dear Editors, Recent articles in several local newspapers present the view of those that oppose the Four Corners Rally in the Rockies Motorcycle Rally being held at Echo Basin Ranch. We are taking this opportunity to present the facts behind the story and to provide answers to several issues that have not been accurately reflected in the comments of county officials and representatives of the Southern Ute Tribe. Since this response is lengthy and we have several documents to support our view, we have posted them for all to see on our website at www.rallyintherockies.com/issues. We invite you to take the time to see our view.

– Dan Bradshaw, Four Corners Rally in the Rockies, and Dan Bjorkman, Echo Basin Ranch                 

Give dad the vote

To the editors:

There are some people in this world whom you just know can be trusted and will always do the right thing. One of those people is my father, Joe Colgan. He is working to be elected as the next state representative from the 59th District.  

 My father is an amazing man. He is always willing to give of his time, expertise and resources for the things he believes in. He knows what needs to be done to ensure the highest quality of life for us and for future generations. And more importantly, he knows how to get it done. He is an inspiration to his five children and nine grandchildren. He has been an excellent role model for hundreds of children and students through the years. The citizens of Southwest Colorado could not ask for a finer gentleman to represent them in Denver. Please vote for Joe Colgan in the Aug. 8 Democratic Primary Election and in the Nov. 7 general election.

– Amy McNitt (Colgan), Tucson, Ariz.

Straightforward, active, positive

To the editors and voters of the 59th District, As a social studies teacher for over 25 years, I have continually stressed to my students the importance of participating in our democracy. By voting in primaries and general elections, by voicing our opinions to our representatives, and by being aware of issues and the forces that influence laws, citizens use the tools to guarantee our democracy truly reflects the desires of its citizens. I therefore urge all registered Democrats to vote on Aug. 8 in the Democratic Primary for Jeff Deitch, for I believe he is the candidate that will best serve the people of the 59th District. 

Through the course of several forums and discussions, it has become clear that Jeff has the interests of our citizens at the core of his campaign and has stated those interests consistently since he announced his candidacy. Jeff is not a newcomer to the concept of conservation, the real crisis of global warming or protecting our precious environment. Jeff is also astute in his description of the need to permanently fix TABOR, not just “...lurch from crisis to crisis.” (Herald 7/23/06) 

He is also willing to challenge the multi-billionaires who consider our part of the state their private playground, ripe for big time development and more billions for their pockets. Jeff is also a strong defender of public education and believes, as many educators do, that we are currently over-emphasizing the standardized testing of our children with the heavy-handed CSAP and No Child Left Behind dictates. 

I believe that Jeff Deitch will be a straightforward, active and positive member of the Legislature, willing to represent the voters as opposed to special interests, and will try to help the voters by his actions in the greater body that is the Colorado State Legislature. I urge you to vote for Jeff Deitch on Aug. 8.

– Gene Orr, Hesperus

Action instead of talk

Dear Editors,

I’m voting for Joe Colgan in the primary election Aug. 8. What impresses me most about Joe is his dedication to improving education. All candidates in this race talk about improving education. The difference is Joe actually follows through.

For 18 years, I worked at Fort Lewis College, mostly with minority support programs, and currently serve on a 9-R School District task force working to improve minority students’ achievement. In my experience, I have found that Joe Colgan’s reputation as a hard-working, honest person follows him everywhere. Joe was a leader amongst the faculty at Fort Lewis and served as an advisor to student government. Joe also serves on the Adult Education Board of Directors, where he works to ensure new opportunities for area residents.

As our state legislator, Joe Colgan will remain dedicated to addressing the needs of Colorado students from kindergarten through college. Joe understands that building success starts early and has pledged to invest more in preschool. Joe Colgan is also committed to reducing classroom sizes, improving our colleges and universities, and attracting the best teachers by giving them the compensation they deserve.

I’m not the only one who has noticed how strong Joe is on education. I recently learned that Joe Colgan was endorsed by the Colorado Education Association, which is a state branch of the largest teachers union in the country. This endorsement alone speaks volumes about Joe’s accomplishments.

If you’re like me, you don’t want more talk, you want action when it comes to the issues important to all of us in Southwest Colorado. If education is one of those important issues, I urge you to join me and vote for Joe Colgan on Aug. 8 in the primary and again thisNovember.

– Shelly Hartney, via e-mail



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
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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