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Up in arms at Elmore’s

To the Editors,

I could have spit nails after reading your article “Explorations at Elmore’s” last week. It is a good promotional piece for proponents of unbridled development but it is a poor piece of informative journalism. If any of your readers have had concerns about the impact of Twin Buttes, Grand View, Ewing Mesa, Horse Gulch and others, you should be equally concerned about what is sliding by up on Florida Mesa. It makes those look like small potatoes.

Appallingly, your article downplays the extent of the proposed development by promoting the proponents’ percentages and says “40 percent of the total acreage” would be “preserved” as open space. What that really means is 60 percent will be covered with pavement and buildings and 100 percent of the original 640 acres of natural space will be significantly affected. Take a look for yourself at the proposed “alternatives” and you will see.

What is worse, is the disparaging opening line: “A dusty parcel of land north of Elmore’s Corners … .” Holy smokesTelegraph, get out of the car and take a look at what you are writing about! If you go there, this is what you will see: bluebells in the dappled shade of gambel oak, turkeys roosting in towering ponderosa pine, mallards nesting in languid waters of the canal, cow elk with calves nipping cottonwood leaves by a pond, berry-filled bear scat trailing to Horse Gulch, bobcats prancing across grassy pastures, mule deer browsing fragrant squaw apple shrubs, coyotes pouncing on mice for their pups, barred owls in piñon tops silhouetted by the moon, and so on. This is a rich natural ecosystem at work – so much so the

Division of Wildlife lists it as important habitat. You can call me crusty, but don’t call this vital landscape dusty.

Here is the significance of this development issue: 1)

It is a natural expansion of Durango’s sprawl into the county, and we should cash in on it; 2) It is the last intact parcel of land buffering the country from the4 urban. The significance of No. 2 has been totally overlooked, including by your article.

We have a chance to weigh in on this issue at the open meeting at Three Springs on June 14 at 5:30 p.m. If you love land, wildlife, agriculture and apple pie you should come and weigh in. This industrial development does not need to happen at this place.

– Craig Leggett, Durango

Doggone it

To the Editors,

OMG!!! Re your May 27 issue - the “High Water” photos. That poor dog in the top photo!! He looks scared to death! And his genius human thought it was a good idea to tether the poor dog to the raft???? Doesn’t he realize that if it flips, the dog could very well be stuck under the raft with no chance of getting out of the water?  

You know - our dogs don’t have to go EVERYWHERE with us. Sometimes the smartest thing is to just leave them at home - where they’re SAFE!

Please tell me you know, for a fact, that the dog is OK!

– Jola Schraub, via e-mail

(Editor’s note: We checked with our photographer, Stephen, and rest assured, the dog was not strapped into the boat. The strap in question was from the table secured to the frame. Shoddy rigging aside, the yellow lab made it safely to shore with the help of several nearby kayakers. As for the guide, we hear he was left to self-rescue.)

The blame game

To the Editors,

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana on April 20, millions of gallons of oil were not the casualty: some of our rationality appears to have been blown up as well.

Consider, for instance, the comments of MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews: “Why doesn’t the president go in there, nationalize an industry and get the job done for the people? There’s a national interest in this, not just a BP interest.” (“Hardball with Chris Matthews,” May 17.)

Nor was nationalization the only item on Matthews’ hit list: “In China, it’s a more brutal society … but they execute people for this. Major industrial leaders that commit crimes like this.” And the system Matthews would blame as being responsible for it all? “Everybody says ‘Capitalism is great. Unbridled free enterprise is great.’ Look at it. This is great, isn’t it?”

That’s quite a bit to chew on, so let’s digest it a piece at a time.

Nationalization is the worst possible response we could make to this disaster and would achieve nothing but more disaster. The feds, after all, have been overseeing the oil industry for well over a century – and they still don’t have it right. Shouldn’t we be wondering why not? What makes anybody think total government ownership instead of mere regimentation will improve things?

For example: “Though federal regulations require offshore drilling locations to be inspected by the Department of the Interior’s Mineral Mining Service every 30 days, those inspections have repeatedly not happened … including one out of every four months since President Obama’s inauguration.” (“Political punch,” Jack Tapper, ABC News, May 18.)

The only thing nationalization would accomplish would be to (a) engage in one of the greatest thefts of private property in history; and (b) obliterate any remaining incentives for anyone to produce any oil at all. How’s the 2001 TSA nationalization of airport security been working out for us? Feel any safer today than you did nine years ago?

As for the executions: sounds like Mr. Matthews could find a job in his beloved Red China with no problem.

More of Mr. Matthew’s collectivist premises highlight themselves in regard to his comments on the “unbridled free enterprise” of oil production, however, for the reality is that the oil industry is one of the most heavily regulated in U.S. history, with millions of pages of legislation covering every aspect of oil operation.

And those laws are in spades for offshore drilling – where, through a series of acts such as the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (1953) and the Coastal Zone Management Act (1972), the federal government established total sovereignty over all coastal waters, and currently makes billions of dollars yearly by “leasing” a portion of those waters back to oil producers. (And then charges more billions in “royalty fees” on the results.)

And none of it, in any way, shape or form, is consistent with the private property dictates of capitalism. If Mr. Matthews is searching for a social system to blame for this crisis, he needs to turn to either socialism, where the government actually owns the means of production (and which he advocates with his call for nationalization) – or to fascism, which leaves the deeds in the hands of “private” owners and where the government controls production instead (what we currently have).

No, the answer here is to increase the freedom to produce, not diminish it. To establish more private property, not less. An offshore oil-drilling company ought to be able to own its location just as surely as one owns one’s house, and for the same reason: by virtue of the fact that they were the ones who engineered and developed it.

And it is only through the strict definition and enforcement of private property rights – which do not grant anyone the “right” to pollute the property of their neighbors or the rest of the planet – that we can have any hope of arbitrating and resolving disputes, accidents, mismanagement and catastrophe. That is the role the government plays in a free society, and the only role4 

it should be playing.

And, as final proof of capitalism’s ability to meet that demand, you need only ask yourself one question: who responded to this debacle by mindlessly dispatching SWAT teams (!!) – and who is currently working away on the ocean’s floor?

– Bradley Harrington, via e-mail

Trading places

Dear Editors,Coming back from the State Democratic Convention, I finally had the time to do something I’d wanted to for years – track down and actually look at the land I’ve always treated with derision. A derision based on long ago secondhand stories of what someone else thought they knew and my own opposition to developing Alberta Park.Although the land trade information is fairly obscure, Forest Service personnel were very helpful. After hop-scotching a couple people, having a little patience, there it was, the legal descriptions to nine parcels that Mr. McCombs traded for Alberta Park. Armed with that information, I detoured to the Saguache County Court House & Forest Service Field Office where everyone was friendly and helpful in translating the legal descriptions into rough locations on the map.I knew my notions were in trouble before leaving town in search of the “traded parcels.” They cluster around CR 41G, about 10 miles west of Hwy 285, south of Saguache, very nice, mid-elevation country.I wound up driving near or past six parcels feeling chagrined. I could see how the foresters out of Saguache district rejoiced at stitching those inholdings into the protection of the National Forest. I could even see how Mr. McCombs probably felt it was a square deal. In fact, when imagining what went on, back in 1986 in that Washington office (where the Interior Dept. overturned RGNF’s rejection of the land trade,  a whole new layer of intrigue appears.But then, from a citizen’s perspective, it immediately begs the question: why must Alberta Park be sacrificed to gain protection for these other worthy parcels? None of the virtue of what McCombs traded justifies Alberta Park being bulldozed for a doomed speculation. Especially not in the face of the challenges we will be grappling with these next years. Precious, clean mountain water is a commodity we can’t afford to squander.

– Peter Miesler, Durango

Let’s target terrorism

To the Editors:

The recent attempted car bombing in New York City by Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen who was born and raised in Pakistan, reveals the susceptibility of this country to acts of terrorism.

Although the explosive devices planted in New York City did not work, this event serves to point out that New York City continues to be a target for terrorism. Other cities could be potential targets for Taliban and al Qaida terrorists emanating from Middle East countries or by a minority of U.S. citizens with loyalties to these groups.

We have to carefully screen people trying to enter the U.S. from high threat countries. We have to infiltrate agents into terrorist organizations outside and inside this country. We should report individuals who threaten this country or profess loyalty to countries and organizations that espouse the destruction of the U.S.

We need to tighten up and enact laws that will allow us to document individuals who gain naturalized American citizenship by marrying U.S. citizens and who might be threats to this country. Particular attention should be paid to applicants from countries that house, support, train and promote terrorism.

– Donald A. Moskowitz, via e-mail