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Frank fires back

(Editors’ note: The following letter is in response to the March 6 editorial, “Cocktails with Frank.)


Saw your recent snarky piece and would love to tell you a few things you forgot:

1) I have worked on a number of power plant-related issues and nearly every one of them has been a rational argument for finding and walking the fine line between growth, economics and environmental protection. There is a need to understand all sides of issues and find the right balance that will not only protect the environment, but meet community needs and protect its economy as well.

2) Before you go reading “Source watch” and take it as gospel, you should always check what else people work on. The climate group, when I worked with it (1998-2002), was widely recognized as credible business group that had a strong influence on the economic debate surrounding whether policies like the Kyoto Protocol would work or what they would cost. I think 10 years later, history has shown we were right about Kyoto. Also, I never did any work for the nuclear industry – although I would be happy to since Sen. Harry Reid doesn’t like me already anyway.

3) Perhaps you should investigate my involvement building wind turbine projects. In fact, by the number of quotes I have in the media, one might argue I have been more active on renewable projects than I even have been on Desert Rock or any coal power project. I suggested building wind turbines around the ridges of Durango just as we have in other regions to air permit and EIS meeting-goers, but surprisingly (not), I got a similar response as in those other places: “Not here”... Funny how that seems to happen.

4) I live within 15 miles of two big, coal-fired power plants, both of which are much closer than Desert Rock is to Durango. By the way, both are older than San Juan and Four Corners and have less emissions controls. Both of them are also close to the Chesapeake Bay, a relatively large, significant water resource ... even by Durango standards. By the way, my three small kids are growing up happy right here playing their sports, playing with friends, learning about the environment in our state. I think the power plants and car emissions (which are a much bigger problem here) may have affected their ability to hear though, because many times they don’t listen to me when I tell them to do things.

5) While I might have offered to buy you a beer, I don’t drink or smoke, so we wouldn’t be able to hang out and progress to heavier drinking. Sorry, not any particular reason, just never did. That way my judgment remains sound always.

6) I don’t drive Cadillacs .. .In fact I like to drive hybrids like the Prius – especially when I am on the road.

7) I do travel to Las Vegas often because, in fact, we are building another state-of-the-art, advanced coal plant just north of Las Vegas. I don’t think it’s my place to tell people how they ought to live, though. But certainly Las Vegas and the entire Southwest continues to grow rapidly and needs power. And it’s not just Las Vegas. St. George, Utah, is the second-fastest growing community by percentage in the U.S., according to recent census numbers. These power needs must be met. By the way, don’t gamble either. Just don’t like it.

8) Why shouldn’t the Navajos – who are aren’t as fortunate as those living in Durango – get opportunities to make a better life for their families as well. You might remember, the Nation will get hundreds of jobs, millions in revenue from taxes and royalties and new opportunities for economic development. It was their idea to do this project, and they invited us to help them build it better than any coal plant ever built before. I know nobody in Durango really cares about the Navajo Nation, but they should. Out of sight ... out of mind.

9) I’ve been to the plant site plenty of times ... have you? If not, I would recommend it. I think for the most part, you might find it to be a pretty darn good place to put a power plant – especially since it will have virtually no emissions of regional haze pollutants and use 85 percent less water than a typical plant (most of which goes to pollution control). And with the Navajo’s coal mine right next to the plant, not much use for trains, trucks or other items which have fuels costs and emissions as well.

10) Well, no smoking, drinking, gambling or girls. Sounds like your mapped out excursion might be pretty boring after all when you add me into it. Nothing but rational policy wonk talk and bragging on my kids’ sports, packed into a hybrid driving across the desert. At least we could get some Tony Hillerman novels on tape. I still have a few more to read (I love those books). Too bad you didn’t join us last time ... Anyway, the offer is still good.

– Sincerely, Frank Maisano spokesman, Desert Rock

An artist and a gentleman

To the Editors: As a former Durango resident and Telegraph employee, I had a very pleasant surprise this weekend in Denver when I attended the annual awards banquet for the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. I had just taken a sip of wine when the host started announcing the winners of the Illustration category. The silver went to...Shan Wells for the children’s book Hug a Bug! I choked on my wine as a woman at my table got up to accept the award for Shan. It turns out that she was Nancy Mills, the book’s author and publisher at Pie in the Sky Publishing. When she got back with Shan’s EVVY award, my husband Bryan and I started sputtering at her: “We know Shan ... we used to live in Durango ... we LOVE Shan!” She was very tolerant of our excited babbling and after the banquet, she told me, “Shan is a quintessential artist, not to mention, a scholar and a genuine gentleman.” Then she added with a grin, “He cooked dinner for me, and he’s an incredible chef. His culinary skills are second only to his illustration skills. I just love Shan! I’m really tickled.”

Anyways, congratulations to theTelegraph for employing a fabulous cartoonist who is also an award-winning illustrator! Yay Shan!

– Much love, Jen Reeder, via e-mail

A proven leader

To the Editors:

It is good news that Wally White has announced that he will seek a second term on the Board of County Commissioners. He has been an outstanding public servant, and serving for a second term will give the county the benefit of his experience and knowledge of the system. I feel confident that he will continue to work for those values and goals that are so important to a majority of people in La Plata County, specifically the finalization and implementation of a new strategic plan for the future. In this era of expansion, our very quality of life depends on the wise management of growth, and this is strongly advocated by Wally White.

Wally is grounded in the rural and agricultural heritage of La Plata County and will continue to seek to preserve that way of life. With regard to the oil and gas industry, he works for protection of surface owners’ rights, which benefits the county at large.

As he showed during his visit to various residents of the county recently, Wally is a good listener and responds truthfully to questions. He will take our concerns to the county for consideration.

I encourage voters in La Plata County to support Wally White in his bid for re-election to the Board of County Commissioners. He is a proven leader with a vision we can believe in.

– Marilyn Leftwich, via e-mail

Shredding for safety

To the Editors,

Just a warning for everyone … no matter where we live or how good a person we are, there is going to be someone with ill intentions. Please learn from my naiveté.

While away with my son during spring break, I came home to find out that I had been a victim of fraud and identity theft. I received two notices that credit card checks were being returned because they were over the credit limit. “I never wrote those,” I told myself, then realized that I had made a grave mistake last week when cleaning out junk and papers from my car I put everything in a bag and put it in the recycling. Lesson learned? Shred or tear up all paper from your household before putting in the trash or recycling.

Hopefully whoever did this will feel the ill effects of the bad juju that I have placed on them. Yes, this was my fault, but come on, it’s just downright malicious.

– Liz Potter, Durango

A wilderness recommendation

Dear Editors:

I would like to emphasize that these remarks are personal, and not those of The Colorado Trail Foundation. The foundation is studying the forest plan and will be making its own comments prior to the April 11 deadline.

I am a member of The Colorado Trail Board of Directors, a trail crew leader and the current adopter for that portion of The Colorado Trail that lies inside the Weminuche Wilderness from Elk Creek to the Continental Divide. I do most of the cartography work for The Colorado Trail Foundation, and I have traveled the trail in its entirety from Denver to Durango (or reversed) a total of five times. Three of these times were by hiking with a backpack and two times were with mountain bike with packs. My last two transits of the trail were on foot and occurred during the summers of 2005 and 2007. The 2005 hike was to re-write the guidebook trail descriptions, and the 2007 hike was to improve signage, study conditions and interview other long distance users for the purpose of improving outdoor experiences.

Being the adopter for the Weminuche segment, I am a wilderness supporter and a strong advocate for creating congressionally mandated protections. However, this particular proposal would cause some unique logistical difficulties for trail users, maintainers and supporters. At the same time it does not do enough to protect the Hermosa roadless lands.

The current proposal is too small. It sacrifices the lands on the westerly side of Hermosa Creek in favor of those on the east. I would like to see the protected area doubled in size to include the entire Hermosa Creek watershed lands that are currently listed as roadless. We shudder at the thought that the Hermosa Creek trail could someday become a road to a mine, but under the current proposal, it could become just that. A mine, oil well or timber harvest couldn’t be located on the east side of the basin but it could be on the west.

The Colorado Trail currently passes through six wilderness areas between Denver and Durango. Bicycles are routed around these areas via alternate routes then rejoin the main trail after it leaves the wilderness. The entire trip takes most cyclists 12 to 20 days, with a fantastic final, mostly downhill, day culminating at the trailhead in Durango. When I first made this trip in 1990, I arrived at the Durango terminus just before dark. I had lost 25 pounds during my 18 self-supported days along the trail. I felt a fantastic sense of achievement, like I had just swum the English Channel or some similar feat. I had a passing hiker take my photo in front of the sign there. This memorable experience led to my becoming first an active donor, then a trail worker, and eventually a member of the board of directors. I have spent literally thousands of hours working on behalf of the trail since then.

A huge problem with the current proposal is that there is no viable alternate route around the 5.5 miles that would be within the boundaries of the new wilderness. Bicyclists would have to leave the trail at its intersection with Hotel Draw Road, ride down the road to Hermosa Creek Trailhead, ride Hermosa Creek to CR203, then ride the pavement to Durango. The 5.5 miles of wilderness would block them from the final 41.1 miles of the trail. They would never make it to the terminus of The Colorado Trail. For me, this would diminish or ruin the experience for many, would erode important support, and is unnecessary.

There are several mechanisms by which areas such as this may be congressionally protected and preserved without the onerous restrictions of a wilderness designation. These include designations such as Special Management Areas, Recreation Management Areas, and National Protection Areas. (16 CFR 539g-539k). These designations protect lands by preventing mining, drilling, logging or other extractive uses and the road building that accompanies them. They are enacted by congress, making the protections just as permanent as in the case of a wilderness designation.

The re-designation of portions of the Hermosa Roadless Area to wilderness status is unnecessary in light of other protection remedies available. Probably the best fit for permanent, meaningful protection and continued access would be as a “Special Management Area” that has been expanded in size to include the entire Hermosa watershed area, not just one side of the drainage.

–Sincerely, Jerry Brown, via e-mail