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Bring the RAT out into the open

To the Editors:

I smell a RAT on the San Juan National Forest. A Recreation Access Tax, that is.

SJNF officials have decided in a secret process to charge recreation fees for seven sites: Lower Hermosa Trailhead, Little Molas Lake, Molas Pass Overlook, Aspen Guard Station and the dispersed camping areas at South Mineral Creek, La Plata City and Miner’s Cabin.

The process is called Recreation Facility Analysis. It is impacting all 155 national forests. Every forest must conduct an inventory and ranking of developed recreation sites and produce a five-year plan making each one financially self supporting. Those that cannot pay their way in fees are to be closed.

Fees are only one troublesome issue in the SJNF’s five-year plan. They are also planning to obliterate five recreation sites, remove six toilets and eliminate three drinking-water systems. Electrical hookups (and increased fees) will be added at Junction Creek and Cayton Campgrounds and at the remaining sites in Haviland Lake Campground that don’t already have them, making the cheapest campsite at least $21 per night - plus the Ticketmaster fee if you reserve online. All these changes and more are contained in a complicated report, hidden behind a coding system that raises more questions than it answers. Yet not one public meeting is scheduled, and the deadline for comments is June 16, barely 30 days after the plan was released.

This analysis has been under way since at least December 2006, when theHerald quoted a Forest Service spokesman as saying “The next step is public involvement. We will do a lot of public involvement in this.” In the intervening 17 months, they have declined repeated requests to release it, and now they are giving the public less than 30 days to figure it out and comment on it.

To preserve your access to the San Juan National Forest, act now. Send a comment, even if you only say that you need more time to comment. Don’t do nothing, because silence is interpreted as support. You can read more about Recreation Facility Analysis by clicking Forest Service Fee Watch at www.WesternSlopeNoFee.org.

– Kitty Benzar, president, Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, Durango4

Two-wheeled ticketing

Dear Eds,

There’s a win-win situation for bicyclists regarding filling the pot holes on Florida and sweeping junk off the north and southbound shoulders of Highway 550 by using the fine money generated by bikers who feel they don’t have to obey traffic laws. 

First off, post law enforcement officers on Trimble Lane at CR 250, CR 203 and Highway 550 to write tickets for running stop signs and stop lights. Since it’s against the law to operate a motor vehicle wearing earphones or ear buds, write up the bicyclists pedaling to tunes. Finally, throw a $500 fine at the weenie waggers that relieve themselves on the side of the road. And don’t forget the big-time fines on Tuesday from the group riders that fail to yield the right of way.

All of the fine monies generated by bicyclists must be earmarked for Florida Road pothole repair and sweeping the shoulders on 550 on a regular basis. Based on my observations, there should be enough money in the till to start these projects by the middle of next month.

– Dennis Pierce,


Rapid dollar devaluation

Dear Editors,

It was with great dismay the other day that I read a headline on theHerald that stated President Bush couldn’t convince the Saudis to increase production of oil to decrease our fuel prices at home. What a bunch of “huey.” Once again the American public is being led down a path of outright untruths probably to justify more military action. Let’s review what is really happening: The dollar is in the middle of a mandatory devaluation of at least 50 percent. By whom, you may ask … why, the Federal Reserve, of course.

According to Fed rules, when our trade deficit reaches a certain percentage, a 50 percent devaluation of the dollar is mandatory. Our huge trade deficit is with China, so when we buy cheap goods here at home from China, the

low prices you are paying are subsidized by the USA.  The USA pays China in American dollars every time a boatload of product goes to Walmart, Rite Aid or even local shops like our outdoor supply shops. So now the United States has given the Chinese government over a trillion U.S. dollars to offset the trade deficit. Secondly for every decrease of interest set by the Federal Reserve, the dollar is further devalued. Guess what??? The Federal Reserve is a Private Corporation, so who really benefits from this fiasco? The owners, of course.

What does a 50 percent devaluation mean? Let’s take a look at fuel prices locally, average price for unleaded last year was about $2.50/gal right? Take that amount and add 50 percent and now we have a price of $3.75/gal. The price has again increased because of the further devaluation of the dollar related to low interest rates. It has nothing to do with supply. Let’s look at another example. Some friends of mine operate a local diner. The price of all their supplies has gone up at least 50 percent, so now they are taking a hit of $2,500 a month. But, because wages haven’t gone up 50 percent, they in reality can’t raise their prices. They depend on locals and many are like family. So local vendors are now trapped as well. So look at your own dollar this way. What you could spend with $1 last year now takes $1.50.

So Atmos Energy is asking for a 25-27 percent increase in natural gas prices. Look for another 25-27 percent increase in another six months because the gas

company needs to offset the 50 percent devaluation of the dollar just to break even.

Who or what can we trace this disaster back to? For sure Pres Bill Clinton for signing NAFTA and WTO. The idea has been pushed for many years by other administrations.  In reality it is designed to bring the American way of life and standard of living down to Third World country status rather than the other way around. So right now, Americans are trapped into buying from large companies, trapped into false low prices while the dollar they are paid and use loses value.

I’ll explain how other countries are coping next time.

– Oliver Nelson,

via e-mail