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

Closing out the public

To the Editors:

I am writing this letter in regards to the proposed road closures here in the San Juan National Forest of Southwest Colorado. I have two concerns about this project.

The first goes back to the 1960s when I worked seasonally for the USFS as an engineering aide. At that time and before, the concept of the Forest Service was multiple use. This concept included logging, livestock grazing, mining and recreation. Over the last 40 years, I have watched that concept dwindle away until little is left except recreation.

Today, the steady increase in grazing fees has driven most wool growers out of their summer ranges and, subsequently, out of business. The same process is slowly driving the cattleman out of the forest and, subsequently, out of business.

For those cattlemen that are left, those two-track roads that are slated for closure are used during the summer to gain access to their cattle. Water sources, condition of the range and fences as well as dealing with any health problems or injuries are only a few of the reasons that certain roads need to remain open. I wonder if the responsible Forest Service personnel who decide which roads are to be closed have even bothered to consult with all of the permittees.

The second area of concern has to do with those federal laws that preclude the legal closure of any road that was built prior to 1976. Permanently closing these roads involves the use of a large D8 bulldozer which begins its work by ripping the road in much the same manner as a farmer plows his fields. The difference in the case of road closures is that the “rippers” aren’t discs. They have large iron claws that can rip through the soil and rock as deep as 2 feet. After the rippers do their work, the dozerswitches ends and pushes up large berms of dirt along the length of the road to be closed. Generally, this is where government agencies stop because after such4 extreme soil disturbance, the National Environmental Policy Act (1969, NEPA) would require the disturbed area to be rehabilitated by reseeding with native shrubs and grasses; this is expensive.

The other factor has to do with cultural resources. Within NEPA, cultural resources are covered by The National Historic Places Act (NHPA) and before that, the Antiquities Act of 1906, which established penalties for damage or destruction of antiquities on federal land.

There are other and more recent laws protecting our cultural heritage. The point here is that the Forest Service has not performed a cultural resource inventory along the corridors of all the roads slated for closure or those that have already been closed. This in itself is a violation of all federal laws dealing with cultural resources. As an archaeologist, common sense tells me that whatever archaeological sites were present in the right-of–way of constructed roads has probably already been destroyed long ago. However, many of these roads that are slated for closure are of the so called two-rut variety and were not constructed nor maintained. These roads certainly need a cultural resource survey because the light travel they receive has probably done minimal damage to a prehistoric site.

Along these same lines, most of the roads, if not all of them, are historic roads in and of themselves. There are historic wagon roads, trails, logging roads and railroad grades which were built in the late 1800s and early 20th century and are still utilized today.

Admittedly, there are some roads that could and should be closed, but no road should be ripped up and decommissioned unless all of the federal laws have been observed. Also, a well-advertised public meeting should be held so the social impact of those closures can be addressed and brought to the attention of the USFS. I emphasize a “well-advertised” public meeting because at least one important announcement was placed only in TheDurango Herald and buried as a small blurb on page 3. It is obvious that the USFS wants to maintain a low profile on its closure project and get the deed done without following any of the natural and culture mandates set forth by their own Department of Agriculture.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, the management of our natural and cultural resources is the responsibility of federal employees who are transient, non-local individuals whose prime objective is reaching the next higher G.S. pay level.

– Joel Brisbin, Dolores

A free market energy economy

To the Editors,

Even though the premise of human-caused global warming is not on the table for discussion, that premise is what is driving the entire Climate Energy and Action Plan. When half of the scientific community believes there is not enough science to prove that any climate change is human caused, that is a very clear indicator that more research needs to be done in that area first, before we proceed with drastic, expensive, lifestyle changing, mandatory regulations. I believe CEAP is a costly and premature reaction to what may or may not even prove to be a reality. Climate does change and go through cycles, but that does not necessarily mean that the actions or reactions of humans contribute to that cyclical change.

That’s not to say that energy conservation is not a good idea. My husband and I have just built a home, and we have tried hard to make it as energy efficient as possible. And we did it without government mandates. My suggestion is that private industry, through the private enterprise system, continue to develop innovations in energy conservation and make the benefits of them known to the populace at large, just as they are already doing. If government wants to be involved in the process, offer tax incentives and credits – no gigantic spending of tax dollars to create and expand government bureaucracy and no punitive action for “noncompliance.” Let the free market economy work through education not regulation.

– Sandy Wallace, via e-mail

Disenchanted with DHS

Dear Editors,I have been really unhappy with my daughter’s experience at Durango High School. Escalante did a much better job. Yes, I voted to give them more money. Wow, I blew that decision – cost me a couple more hundred in taxes and got the children NOTHING!

Now catch this, on next Friday they have decided to let all the kids out at 11:15 a.m., but figure it out or let your kids wander the streets until the bus will pick them up after 2 p.m. So you can just skip out of work to come get your child or they can roam the streets. The teachers have to have 4½ hours of meetings – couldn’t they have done this during the hour they steal from our children every Friday? I find it amusing that spring break starts Monday. Must be some important info at this meeting – better get the press there!

– Poppy Harshman, Mayday


Vote for grandma

To the Editors,

I’m excited that my grandma, Connie Imig, is running for City Council. I think she would make a good City Council member because she is creative, nice, funny and very great at running things.

– Joshua Joseph Whidden, sixth grade, Durango



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Uphill climb

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March 10, 2022
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New health care studio takes integrated approach to healing