Our letters section and your opportunity to weigh in and be heard. Send us your thoughts and profundities. You can contact us here.

A shrinking oasis

Dear Editors,

As a big game hunter, co-chair of the Colorado Backcountry Hunters Anglers and member of the Colorado Mountain Club, over the years I have climbed all of the fourteeners in the San Juan Mountains and hunted elk in the West Hermosa Creek area, and I’m concerned about the few remaining wild places in our state, like the proposed 51,000-acre West Hermosa Creek Wilderness.

One of the things I’ve learned from these experiences is that there are few places left in Colorado very far from a road or trail. Today in Colorado, only 8 percent of our national forest acreage lies beyond 1 mile of a road (only 4 percent for BLM lands). Nancy Berry, an employee with the San Juan National Forest says, “There are a bazillion logging roads up here.”

As of the late 1990s, across the 1.8 million acres of the San Juan National Forest, there were already 2,817 miles of roads and 1,125 miles of trails. Today, the San Juan Mountains are filled with enough dirt roads to stretch from Durango to Honolulu and back again. More than 6,400 miles of road lace San Juan public lands, and more than half of those miles are either user-created (i.e. illegal) or no longer maintained.

Clearly, there is no shortage of roads or trails in Colorado’s national forests and other public lands. Some of the most vocal opponents of protecting wilderness and roadless areas do so because they are unwilling to expend the effort required to experience them and learn from them as our forefathers did. They seek to make wilderness and roadless area travel easy by opening them up to motorized vehicles or other mechanized means.

Durango-area outfitter Mike Murphy has an answer to people who oppose preserving roadless and wilderness areas in national forests and say public land should be open to everyone driving or riding anything: Look at the satellite images of this corner of Colorado on the internet. “You take a look at that map and look at all the roads in Southwest Colorado and Northwest New Mexico, and you won’t want to see another road for a long time,” Murphy says.

Murphy knows that roadless and wilderness areas are vital to the hunting and fishing future of Colorado. “The viability of nearly every outfitter here depends on roadless areas,” Murphy said. “They are the heart and soul of our country.” From the standpoint of big game hunters and wild trout fishermen, the amount of key habitat being lost each year on public lands in Southwest Colorado and elsewhere is making the American hunter and angler an endangered species.4 

Places like the proposed West Hermosa Creek Wilderness Area are a shrinking oasis in a rising sea of roads, trails and drilling rigs. The state of our public lands watersheds, wildlife habitat, and the species that live there should be everyone’s primary concern. If that means letting the mountains reclaim some roads and trails, so be it. All public lands users (hikers, climbers, anglers, OHVers, mountain biker, and hunters) should be willing to sacrifice a little today to ensure future generations of outdoorsmen and women have the same backcountry opportunities we have.

– David A. Lien, via e-mail

‘Vagina Monologues’ are back

Dear Editors,

Vagina. Vagina. Vagina. That’s right, it’s that time again, time for Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues,” once again to be performed in Durango on Valentine’s Day. For those of you who are unaware of or have never seen the “Vagina Monologues,” they are an accumulation of real-life women’s stories that delve deep into the realm of women’s sexuality. Every monologue somehow relates to the vagina, covering issues such as love, sex, menstruation, rape, birth, hair, orgasms, masturbation and mutilation. There is a recurring theme presented through out each separate piece acknowledging the vagina as a tool of female empowerment and the ultimate embodiment of individuality. If you are planning on seeing the “Vagina Monologues” prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions that crosses all boundaries and leaves no barriers beyond the voices of the women performing.

The “V” in V-Day stands for Valentine, Vagina and Victory, linking love and respect for women to ending violence against women and girls. The proceeds from these performances go to programs that work to end violence against women and girls, such as the Southwest branch of the Sexual Assault Services Organization and other crisis centers and women’s shelters. In Colorado, 24 percent (one in four) of women and 6 percent (one in 17) of men have experienced a completed or an attempted sexual assault. This equates to more than 11,000 women and men each year experiencing a sexual assault in Colorado. In 1997, there were 1,794 rapes reported to Colorado law enforcement. When compared to the 1998 Statewide Survey, these reports constitute only 16 percent of sexual assaults. (“Sexual Assault in Colorado: Results of a 1998 Statewide Survey,” 1998, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault.)

In order to raise awareness and promote ending violence against women, the “Vagina Monologues” will be performed at the Smiley Building on Valentine’s Day at 7 p.m., Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. It is important to spread awareness and stop the violence because one of these women could potentially be your grandmother, mother, sister, girlfriend or spouse.

– Mera Wren Debenham, via e-mail

Smell your own tailpipe

Dear Editors, Even though I consider myself an “environmentalist,” I am guilty of sometimes not doing all I can to help with pollution and recycling, I admit it.  However, for a “green” town, Durango sure has an enormous amount of big, stinky, loud diesel trucks. As a person who exercises outdoors a lot, I sometimes come home after exercising with both the taste and smell of exhaust on me. It sometimes seems as bad as living in a giant ashtray! Having left the Front Range last year for cleaner, fresher air, I am sometimes disappointed that the air quality here doesn’t even seem all that much better than the big town I left, as much as I really love Durango (believe me, I feel very lucky to live in this town). I just wish the people driving these nasty vehicles would smell THEIR tailpipe and, if they are at all environmentally minded, put the environment and their fellow citizens above their own needs to drive these behemoths.

– Sincerely, Julie C. Meadows, Durango

A picture-perfect ticket

Dear Editors,

I watched the last Obama/Clinton debate before Super Tuesday and “recame” to a conclusion I’ve had for months now. That these two comfortable, attractive, vibrant and in my book politically healthy, well-educated (Harvard and Wesley respectively) professionals remain the picture perfect Democratic ticket, period. Surely any serious observer can see this. And no 100-year war John McCain will be able to come close. Of course, the mutual Superegos (understandable) will have to be submerged and/or somehow put aside for the sake of both their party and the people they claim to represent.

The coolest of cool Democratic heads must facilitate this by any means necessary. It is called being P-R-A-G-M-A-T-I-C and it is called winning the White House in November. Hey Barack and Hillary, get pragmatic and get pragmatic soon please ’cause we sure are counting on ya.’

– Grant D. Cyrus, via e-mail

A fear of good news

Dear Editors,

The Global Warming Challenge expired on Sat., Feb. 9. It will probably be several days or more before the final result is available. Meanwhile I would like to share with Telegraph readers a brief perspective on the year-long experience of presenting a large body of factual information in opposition to warming catastrophe dogma.

A salient but strange characteristic of the global warming movement is its distaste for good news. One might expect that people would rejoice when presented with finding after finding indicating that humanity has at most a small effect on climate and that the disastrous predictions are not happening nor are they likely to happen. But instead there is denial of fact; there is

anger, name calling, avoidance and the continual raising of non sequiturs; … nothing at all like, “Gee, I hope that’s right,” or “That’s good news” or “Tell me more.” These people are so invested in disaster that they have developed a kind of immune system response to good news. Their metaphorical “white blood cells” attack it lest these contradictions be allowed to spread.  

The famed social psychologist Leon Festinger, developer of the concept of cognitive dissonance, conducted early studies of the good news rejection phenomenon. One study looked at people who bought bomb shelters during the Cold War. It was found that such people tended to exaggerate the threat of nuclear war, and nothing could dissuade them. Good news about relaxed tensions and peace initiatives was rejected. Such developments brought about cognitive dissonance, bizarrely almost as if they were invested in nuclear war. The psychological model is that their belief system became part of their identity, their self, and information at odds with that belief system became an attack on the self. This helps explain why such people can be resistant to information that would be judged positive on a rational basis. Festinger’s book, When Prophecy Fails, tells of a group of doomsday believers who predicted the end of the world on a particular date. When that didn’t happen, the believers became even more determined they were right. And they become even louder and proselytized even more aggressively after the disconfirmation. All this sounds familiar.

Let us hope that global warming advocates will ultimately be able to accommodate to the real world where human-induced climate disaster does not occur.

– Roger W. Cohen, Durango

Get the lowdown from Denver

To the Editors,

On Sat., Feb. 23, the League of Women Voters of La Plata County will hold its annual “Legislative Lowdown” in the Peaks Room at the Durango Recreation Center, 2700 Main Ave., from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

State Sen.Jim Isgar, Senate District 6, and State Rep. Ellen Roberts, House District 59, will share the podium as they discuss highlights of the current legislative session, which convened Jan. 9. They will also outline bills they are sponsoring, all of which are of special interest to us.

There is considerable buzz in Denver regarding key areas being addressed during this session, among them the Colorado Constitution, severance taxes, health care, transportation, immigration and education. We may see bills eventually passed on to voters as referenda in the November election.

Our legislators hold committee positions in areas relevant to residents of La Plata County.  Sen. Isgar chairs the Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee, and is a member of the Finance Committee and the Legislative Audit Committee. Rep. Roberts is a member of the Health & Human Services Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Legal Services Committee.

Following their informal presentations, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide input on topics that impact you.

Please join us for this informative event. As always, snacks will be served.

– Ellen Park, president, League of Women Voters of La Plata County


In this week's issue...

July 18, 2024
Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale