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

The middle of the trail

Dear Editors,

I have tried to avoid the debate about the proposed Hermosa Wilderness area in the Soapbox section. However, after reading several letters misunderstanding most mountain bikers’ concerns and seeing the name calling begin, I have to respond. I understand how some may view opposition to the Hermosa Wilderness Area over a few miles of mountain bike trail as selfish and short-sighted. But it’s not about the 5 miles of affected Colorado Trail or even the more-than 50 total miles of trails affected. The problem is the loss of crucial connections that make hundreds of miles of loop trails possible.

Every mountain biker I have talked with is torn by this proposal. We cherish this area as much as anyone and want permanent protection for the Hermosa area. The size of the Hermosa Roadless Area makes it possible for a mountain biker to find solitude and a “wilderness” experience that exists nowhere else on the forest. If anyone seeks a non-mechanized experience, we need look no further than the Weminuche, which at twice the size of the next biggest wilderness area in Colorado, dwarfs the Hermosa area. Fortunately there may be a solution. Trails 2000 has brought several interested parties to the table including the San Juan Citizens Alliance and the Wilderness Society. The goal is to look at the map and see if proposed wilderness boundaries can be adjusted to allow some loop rides to continue, while still protecting the resource we all love. I and most mountain bikers are willing to sacrifice trails for the greater good, if a few changes can be made. It may even be possible to add protection to the east side of the drainage, while maintaining a few key routes. We should all focus on positive compromise and leave the negative polarizing stereotypes out of local issues. Trails should be a refuge from the ugliness in politics.

– Mark Ritchey, via e-mail

Not all Diné support Desert Rock

Dear Editors:

The contentious Desert Rock issue on Navajo lands has been successfully delayed by a broad spectrum of civil opposition for three years. The title of theDurango Telegraph article, “Desert Rock heats up: Navajos threaten EPA with lawsuit amid rising concerns over cost” (Feb. 14, 2008) confuses the public by implicating that the Navajo people are lockstep proponents of the Desert Rock project. The article does not present the intermix of Desert Rock opponents who live both on and off the Navajo reservation. I ask, “Where is the Navajo voice?” Frank Maisano may be the spokesman for Desert Rock on Navajo lands but he is not a direct representative of our communities and environmental awareness.

There is a large distinction between the Navajo community members and Navajo Tribal officials; we do not comprise a collective body ready to stand in litigation against the Environmental Protection Agency. As evidenced at 100 percent of the DEIS public hearings around the region last Summer, 99 percent of Navajo community members oppose Desert Rock given the existing disproportionate conditions from clustered industrial facilities in the Four Corners. These issues are not made known by isolated voices separated by geopolitical boundaries. Large numbers of regional citizens are voicing their opposition to Desert Rock and this must be acknowledged in the media to avoid further confusion about the Navajo stance about Desert Rock.

There are major developments against Desert Rock because of local citizen voices. City councils and government officials are taking positions against the project because people and the environment must not be sacrificed for cheap electricity. We recently released a report, “Energy and Economic Alternatives to Desert Rock,” which comes directly from Burnham community members, to show that wind, solar and energy-efficiency technologies can allow the Navajo Nation to pursue sustainable development options. Desert Rock as a merchant coal plant cannot sell electricity to California because consumers choose to buy power from renewable energy sources and not coal plants. Individuals are making conscious demands for clean energy and they are, as Mike Eisenfeld from San Juan Citizens Alliance says, creating a “huge paradigm shift.”  This takes a collective effort that includes the Navajo grassroots.

– Dailan J. Long, Burnham, N.M.

(Editors’ reply: TheDurango Telegraph recognizes that the Navajo Nation Tribal Government and many of its members have a difference of opinion on Desert Rock. In fact, we have outlined Navajo opposition to the power plant in more than a dozen news stories over the past several years. Last week’s story was focused on the tribal government’s threatened lawsuit against the EPA, not the ongoing opposition to the planned power plant.)

Refuting the $5,000 challenge

Dear Editors,

I see Mr. Cohen is at it again, this time, with a dramatic $5,000 challenge. He wants to focus attention on “what’s really important,” then reduces the whole climate matter to a betting game, with “caveat emptor” and all – fitting for the Wall Street perspective Cohen champions. I bring this up because Cohen’s overriding, you could say blinding, concern is: “...attempts to mandate worldwide restriction on energy use, with major consequence to economic and health progress.” Cohen consistently paints this picture of corporations and their world economic progress being great benefactors for humanity. This stance may have held some merit in the early days. Today, it’s patently false. Corporations have become singularly concerned with making profits over profits and to keep accumulating more power. Corporations use the cloak of “fiduciary responsibility” to justify ignoring health, safety and environmental concerns (unless extraordinary outside forces mandate otherwise). They eliminate longstanding pension and health plans with a casualness that’s sinful (though making sure to protect their own golden parachutes). They’re even trying to establish intellectual arguments that their private property accumulation rights trump all else, even governmental prerogatives and societal needs.

Cohen speaks of continuing health progress, when in fact over the past half century our corporate system has diminished America’s general health care to the point that in various professional/governmental surveys, America now ranks at the bottom of developed nations health list. It’s frightening, but these days corporations resemble a junky trapped in a self-destructive spiral, in deep denial and unwilling to change no matter how many signals of trouble surround him, more than a constructive member of society’s future.

Cohen goes on to write: “... the IPCC assignment of recent warming primarily to anthropogenic causes is scientifically shabby, intellectually dishonest and skewed. Empirical evidence points to a much smaller human impact on climate (and our earth).”

Regarding “scientifically shabby, intellectually dishonest and skewed,” the website http: //gristmill.grist.org/skeptics takes on all of the naysayer arguments head to head. The site provides nuanced and supportable information – time spent on this site, along with its many links, is a journey of discovery. As for humanity’s impact, spend a little time on Google Earth, travel this world map and zoom in on the population centers, agricultural, forestry, mining centers, river drainages, newly created waste lands – the image reveals humans’ impact upon our Earth as nothing less than massive and dramatic. A couple recent books do an excellent job of illustrating anthropogenic impacts: The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, and Robert Busko’s picture book, Earth Then and Now. For an interesting overview of what we are injecting into our sky look up the California Air Resources Board site at http: //www.arb.ca.gov/html/gloss.htm. The available resources go on and on. To minimize the reality of our impact upon this planet is an act of unhealthy denial and shows wanton disregard for our grandchildren’s future.

United Kingdom’s Metoffice (center for climate change research) site athttp: //www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/myths/index.html, reviews and vanquishes the following myths in clearly understandable, scientific detail: Myth 1 - Ice core records show that changes in temperature drive changes in carbon dioxide, and it is not carbon dioxide that is driving the current warming. ~ Myth 2 - Solar activity is the main driver of climate change. ~ Myth 3 - There is less warming in the upper atmosphere than at the surface, which disproves human-induced warming. ~ Myth 4 - The intensity of cosmic rays changes climate. ~ Myth 5 - Climate models are too complex and uncertain to provide useful projections of climate change. ~ Myth 6 - 1998 was the warmest year in the global annual temperature record and this has led some to claim that temperatures have been decreasing ever since. ~ Another authoritative site is: http: //www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/

I can agree with Cohen that there is some humbug within the Global Warming camp – but, it’s usually with the politico/media end, rather than the scientific process. For an excellent history of this global warming controversy, read Chris Mooney’s Storm World. I also understand Cohen’s fear of economic hardships. Still, we can’t afford to forget that Earth’s dynamic systems are what actually trumps all else, and they don’t care one fig for our world economy or the thinking of its elite, therefore we should stop pretending that difficult revelations and knowledge can be ignored.

– Sincerely, Peter Miesler Durango

Why the pillory at Purgatory?

Dear Editors,

Well, it was Happy Valentine’s Day from DMR. On Feb. 14, the resort had a rather large ad or notice called a “Safety Violations Update,” prevalently placed. As much as I have skied not only all over Colorado but in many U.S. resorts, I have never seen nor heard of such a thing and was rather puzzled and miffed. The piece stated that over 102 skiers/riders had lost day privileges, four lost them for five years and 14 individuals were charged criminally. I would like to ask DMR publicly, what is this about?!

As I am a local and ski this area regularly, I would like to know the list of possible violations for which I could be charged. Spitting off the chair life? Swearing? I have a friend who ducked a rope just to ski to his car and was threatened with a call to the police. This to me seems rather Gestapo. The ticket operator I questioned recently stated that it was about people using other people’s passes. This does not have anything to do with safety. And doesn’t every ski area grapple with the same problems? Yet to pursue this so publicly seems unusual, unfriendly and excessive. I would really appreciate a response from a spokesperson from the resort.

– Thank you very much, J. Meadows, Durango

Calling all bleeding hearts

Dear Eds, In order to vote in California or Colorado, you have to be 18 years old and a U.S. citizen. One of the many requirements necessary to become a naturalized U.S. citizen is a basic command of the English language. So, perhaps one of the bleeding heart liberals reading the Telegraph can enlighten me as to why it’s necessary to print direction signs and ballots in any other language than English.

– Dennis Pierce, Durango

A brief history of immigration

Dear Editors,

Immigration was a hotly debated topic in 2007 and is playing a major role in the campaigns of the presidential candidates in 2008. Take advantage of an opportunity to learn the historical context behind the current issues on Thurs., Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. in 130 Noble Hall, Fort Lewis College, when John Baranski, PhD, will review with us the history of immigration in our country. Baranski, an assistant professor of history at FLC, will speak on “They Take Our Jobs: Looking Backward at Contemporary Immigration Debates.” The program, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of La Plata County, is part of the Life Long Learning Series sponsored by the Professional Associates of Fort Lewis College.

Baranski’s topic is very timely for the LWV of La Plata County as we have just completed a nin-month study of immigration issues as part of a grass roots program initiated by the National League. Our results have been submitted and will be consolidated with the results from all other LWVs across the country. A national position will be available later this spring for use in advocating at the local, state and federal levels for policy solutions to our immigration problems.

During his presentation, Baranski will discuss his findings that the rhetoric of immigration has not changed much over the years with jobs, national security and Americanization being perennial issues. He will explore the evolution of immigration policies and their consequences for domestic politics and society.

The program is free and open to the public. The one-hour lecture will be followed by a question and answer session.

— Ross Park, League of Women Voters of La Plata County, Professional Associates of FLC


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High and dry

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