Stakeholders honored in Washington

The Animas River Stakeholders Group celebrated Earth Day in the spotlight. On April 22, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne honored the effort to restore the Animas watershed with a coveted Cooperative Conservation Award.

A total of 21 awards were given to recognize the work of more than 700 groups and individuals who achieved excellence in conservation through collaboration and partnerships.

“These outstanding partnerships and cooperative efforts represent a fundamental way in which our department provides stewardship for America with integrity and excellence,” Kempthorne said. “They embody a broad spectrum of conservation work from restoring wetlands, rangelands and mine lands to protecting wildlife, conserving water and fighting invasive species to teaching conservation values to the next generation.”

The award recognizes the partnership’s outstanding contributions to improve water quality and turn back the ravages of hardrock mining in the Animas watershed. Due to the potential health hazard posed by runoff from mine tailings, the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies had considered declaring the area a Superfund Site in the late 1990s. However, the progress made by the stakeholders group in reducing pollution levels has convinced the agencies not to take formal action as long as the group continues to demonstrate significant results. By leveraging resources, the group has raised more than $35 million for remediation activities and more than $3 million of in-kind volunteer support.

“The group completed approximately 50 mining remediation addressing drainage from mine entries and waste-site concerns,” the award noted. “Nearby communities have seen benefits from the group’s remediation activities, including an overall increase in water quality, the downstream establishment of two species of trout, and signs of resurgence in recreation-based tourism.”

The Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award recognizes conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of individual landowners, citizen groups, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and federal, state, local and/or tribal governments.

After bestowing the award in Washington, D.C., Kempthorne commented, “This is a fitting start to a week of Earth Day activities. If anyone were to ask me why America is the world leader in conservation of natural resources, I would simply point to the people in this auditorium. You are the spirit, and you are the hands of cooperative conservation.”

 

700 Block starts to bounce back

The 700 block of Main Avenue is well on the road to recovery. This week, demolition of the three buildings that burned in the downtown fire in late February was completed ahead of schedule.

“We are pleased that the demolition finished ahead of schedule,” said Assistant City Manager Greg Caton. “We look forward to the pedestrian and vehicular traffic returning to normal.”

The contractor, Interstate Restoration, is now repairing the sidewalk and building a wall between the sidewalk and the properties. While the wall is under construction, the pedestrian walkway will be moved from the middle of the street to the curbline. By moving the pedestrian walkway to the curbline, pedestrian and vehicle traffic will be less impeded. The sidewalk will reopen once the wall is constructed.

Demolition began in early April, and the contractor had initially estimated it would take between 15 to 30 days, depending on weather and winds. To ensure the safety of the public and the employees in the area, a very strict cleanup protocol was followed to handle asbestos. For example, the demolition ceased when the wind blew more than 12 mph. In addition, water misters were used to eliminate dust. Additional containment measures are also being implemented.

Construction of the new buildings will begin shortly and could be complete as early as this fall.

 

Climbers to clean up Turtle Lake

Durango climbers are giving something back this weekend. A climbing area cleanup, hosted by Pine Needle Mountaineering, is set for Sat., April 26, at the Turtle Lake bouldering area.

Due to its close proximity to town and short approach, the Turtle Lake bouldering area is a popular after work/school destination. The area has also seen an increase in climbers over the last decade, and its natural state has deteriorated from heavy use. The majority of the boulders have never been cleaned.

Ian Allison, event coordinator, commented, “A proactive attitude is required of climbers from the U.S. and overseas to make sure that our favorite playgrounds remain open.”

In addition to restoring the area, the cleanup hopes to raise awareness about the importance of cleaning the boulders regularly. The event will include picking up trash and scrubbing chalk and rubber off the boulders in order to revitalize the area. In addition, the event aims to make a strong statement.

“As well as cleaning the area, this project can demonstrate to the community and land managers that climbers can be responsible,” said Keith Roush, owner of Pine Needle Mountaineering.

Supporters of the project include the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and the Access Fund, a U.S.-based nonprofit that works in advocacy of climbing areas.

Volunteers are asked to help by bringing nonmetallic brushes (nylon), large water jugs and spray bottles for water, ladders, and of course, their picnic basket. Cleaning materials as well as swag will be donated by Pine Needle Mountaineering.

The cleanup will get under way at 9 a.m. For more information call Pine Needle Mountaineering at 247-8728.

 

Library launches green database

The Durango Public Library’s new state-of-the-art and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified facility is expected to open late this year. In the meantime, the local library is taking another step to help the environment by adding a new environmental database.

GreenFILE is an online resource designed to for those interested in increasing the positive impact and reducing the negative impact they have on the Earth. The database includes information on installing solar panels, recycling, green agriculture, hybrid cars, waste management, environmental laws, regulations and studies. GreenFILE contains nearly 300,000 records, full text for certain titles and searchable cited references for more than 200 titles. Its goal is to be a practical tool for everyday information as well as a resource for academic study and classroom activities.

Access to GreenFILE is available at the library web site www.durangopubliclibrary.org by selecting “Information Databases” and then scrolling to the database category “General Research/Interlibrary Loan.” More information can also be obtained by calling 375-3380.

– Will Sands

 

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