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The business of road construction

Dear Editors,

Your story about the Bodo Park highway project paints a picture of how worth it it is to have undertaken and accomplished this mammoth project to construct a wonderful highway.

The chapter that is missing is how a project of this size and duration has nearly bankrupt many of the merchants or businesses on the frontage roads in Bodo Park. Missing is noting poor traffic control that has unnecessarily limited access to the frontage road businesses and lacked directional signage to show motorists how to get to the businesses on the frontage roads.

We have owned and operated a business in Centennial Center since 1983, and nothing this devastating has ever happened in those 26 years. I myself spent over four months communicating with Lawson and CDOT to get the very first, very small, blue sign that says “Business Access.” Following that, it took a couple more months of struggling with CDOT and Lawson to put the sign in a place that made sense. Never once has there been any signage with an arrow to show motorists the way to where they may want to go. The misinformation and nonsensical messages put on the lighted message boards has done more damage and added to the mismanagement of traffic control. After numerous calls to CDOT numerous times, CDOT has had them turned off, but that did not fix the damage already done.

The irony is that most of the traffic just returned to taking old Highway 3, which is the old way in and out of Durango. When the main way into Durango was moved from Highway 3 to Bodo Park, we had a business on 8th Avenue we had to close because we lost 80 percent of our business in three days. When a business loses a substantial number of customers for something like a year or more to a project like this, it will be a struggle to get those customers back. Customers have simply found another way to travel, and another merchant that’s more convenient.

We have lived in Durango since 1969 and have had a business in Durango since 1971. The end of the real story is sad. This new and improved highway was not worth it.

– Elaine Brown, Durango

A case of bad gas

Dear Telegraph Readers:

The writer of “Stop the gasoline madness” makes a good suggestion for drivers to stay at home and drive less. There are certainly multiple benefits of reduced driving. Perhaps while staying at home, she can do a bit of research and become better informed on the topics that she addresses on her soapbox. I would like to counter two of her topics: profits and responsibility.

Profits: She complains about the price of gasoline, while on the same page of the TheDurango Telegraph, beer is advertised for the equivalent price of $24 per gallon. Actually, I paid much more than that for a pint of amber with my lunch on Friday. That was my choice, as was filling up my vehicle with diesel. She might study which liquid costs more to produce and which produces the greater profit for the producer. Do not mistake me, I am as fond of beer as I am of diesel, though I avoid using both simultaneously. From there she could Google to find the profit margins of flavored water (soft drinks), drinking water in plastic bottles, medicines, banking services, gaming, and even the internet access and software enabling her research. A starting point could be http://biz.yahoo.com/p/sum_qpmd.html

There you will find, when ranked from highest profit margin to lowest, Major Integrated Oil and Gas ranks #60. That is, there are 59 industries more profitable than oil. 

Responsibility: The oil companies are not the mineral owners, they lease rights from the mineral owners (private, tribe or state) to take the risk of drilling, and then share any profits and pay substantial taxes. The state and/or federal government regulates drilling patterns and environmental practices. The multinational companies apply their own independently certified and audited environmental management systems, and their environmental performance is published annually. Has the writer been to her unnamed Third World Country for which she claims social ruin and environmental destruction by Exxon? If she does make such a visit she will find a different situation than she imagines. If she researches the history of social impacts, she will most likely find an irresponsible or corrupt government that siphoned off lease payments and royalties while denying their people a proportionate share of the benefits.Yes, I’ve been there and done that. Of course there have been irresponsible industry players that have not been the environmental or social stewards that we would like them to be. This is unfortunately true in many industries, and should be a focus of informed consumers.

A free soapbox is a tempting venue, but soap is slippery and one can fall flat if not well grounded in facts.

– Joseph Donnaway, Durango

The mourning elk

It was a pre-dawn hike beginning at first light a half hour before sunrise. I was hiking with my lab, Jack, straight up through the scrub oak trying to reach some meadows before the elk and deer left them after their night time feeding. An hour later coming upon the last rise before some meadows, I suddenly heard a cacophony of elk barking. My first thought was, how did they see me? I’m still below a 30-foot ridge. How did they smell me? The wind is blowing straight down the hill into my face. How did they hear me? The ground and leaves and needles are wet with morning dew.

As the massive numbers of barking elk subsided, I crept over the ridge to take a peak. As I came over it, I saw two cow elk about 100 yards away on the other side of the meadows looking in a different direction and barking. Following their line of sight, I saw a mountain lion dragging away a calf elk into a grove of aspen. The cow and a yearling elk keep barking not far from the mountain lion, but wouldn’t go any closer into the trees. I watched as the mountain lion dragged the calf over logs and through the 3-foot grass and under brush, periodically out of sight, and up the mountain. The cow never quit her anxious barking in an appeal for help. Finally, I circled to get a better view, occasionally seeing both the mountain lion and the calf. About an hour after my first encounter, the cow and the yearling finally left. I nervously walked up to where I had last seen the mountain lion. I never saw him leave, but suddenly there was the dead calf. Only 20 yards away! I decided now was the time for prudence, so we continued hiking not being able to amend the event that had just happened.

We saw a couple of more groups of elk over the next hour. Stopping we had a bite to eat, took a rest, then headed back the same way we came hoping to catch another glimpse of the mountain lion. I had the wind in my face as we walked closer and closer, so we walked very quietly. As I got near to where I last saw the calf, I caught a glimpse off to my left, and looking down, I saw the mother elk trotting toward the original scene. She ran right back to where she had left an hour and a half before. When she reached there, she started barking all over again. I stopped and watched and glassed with my binoculars for the mountain lion, wishing I had my video camera. Finally after a half an hour barking, the cow elk trotted back to where she had come from. I walked over and saw the calf in the same place I’d seen it. Jack and I quietly left the area and headed back to the truck.

Three days later, I hiked a trail near the incident and coming within a mile of the spot, I couldn’t resist the urge to go back and take a look. As I snuck back to the meadow, I was amazed and saddened to see the mother elk again at the same place. She was barking futilely for her calf. I never realized that their loss would stay with them as was apparent here. I wondered if she’d been coming back several times a day, mourning for her calf. Finally after I’d been there for almost an hour, she left. I snuck into where the calf had been. The calf was no longer there. But I was able to follow drag marks further up the mountain until I lost them.

After that, Jack and I left knowing that I had seen nature in action but feeling very sorry for the cow elk. I couldn’t help hoping that the kill was a result of a mother mountain lion trying to feed her cubs and keep them alive. This is the price of nature and the circle of life.

– Bill Vaughn, Durango



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows