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The Wildcat bites back

To the Durango Telegraph Editor:

On March 17, 2011, an article entitled “Wildcat Mining appeals to public,” by Will Sands, had many inaccuracies. The well-attended public meeting held last week was in conjunction with a land-use permit submitted by Wildcat Mining for the May Day Idaho Mine Complex to develop its historic gold and silver mines near Hesperus. More than 50 local residents attended and participated in the La Plata County Neighborhood Compatibility Meeting. At this time, Wildcat Mining is working diligently with the State of Colorado and La Plata County to ensure all appropriate permitting requirements are met. Until those permits have been reviewed, finalized and approved, no operations can or will take place on the May Day Idaho Mine Complex. In fact, the only authorized site activity over the last year has been related to the collection of environmental baseline samples and general housekeeping activities on the site – all as approved by the State and after notice to the County.

Mr. Sands first suggests that Wildcat Mining is seeking to substantially expand its operations. This is not true. The reason behind changing the permit from a 10-acre Section 110 permit to a Section 112d permit with a project area of 274 acres, which follows property ownership lines, is to provide more transparency of all operations, greater environmental review and increased regulatory input and monitoring. The Section 112d permit process allows the State to consider this additional information during the permitting process. Wildcat Mining’s Section 112d permit does not however entail more surface disturbance or more mining than was originally requested or in places other than in its initial request. There will only be about five additional acres of land disturbance from historical mine-disturbed areas and there is approximately another 40 acres identified as a buffer zone for the areas where mining activity is proposed. The rest of the project area is considered “buffer land.” Only a small part of the 274 acres included in the proposed Section 112d permit application will be disturbed or affected because the majority of all operations will be conducted underground.

Another reference in the story claimed that Wildcat Mining has an abandoned mill. The mill was moved from the Idaho Mine to the May Day Portal Number 1 but was never abandoned. Wildcat Mining will be utilizing this mill once the appropriate permits have been put in place and will work closely with all regulating agencies to ensure the health of the land and the safety of the community. There is an old mill building at the Idaho site that will now be used for storage.

Mr. Sands also claims that Wildcat Mining engaged in illegal blasting of an adit. This is factually incorrect. The only adits on site are those that  existed when Wildcat Mining acquired the mines in 2006. Wildcat Mining utilized a dozer to perform work in response to orders issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for a highwall of the Chief Portal to mitigate the risk of this material falling on miners once they are permitted to work in the Chief Portal. The Chief Portal will be used as an emergency escape man way.

Similarly, the claim that the Wildcat Mining road cuts through the bank of the La Plata River is not accurate. The road in question does not go through the banks of the La Plata River. At its closest distance, the road is 50 feet from the river. Engineering design and construction will be done on the road and all efforts will be made to protect and improve the surrounding wetlands, and surface and ground water. Wildcat Mining is committed to protecting and enhancing resource value and use.

It is also incorrect that Little Deadwood Creek has been dammed. Mine rock material has existed in this location for decades and a culvert lies under this material allowing drainage. Wildcat Mining has provided historical aerial photographs to the Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety (DRMS) reflecting these pre-existing conditions. In early 2010, material from maintenance activities at the Chief Portal and adjacent roads was inadvertently placed near these existing materials. Wildcat Mining submitted a plan over a year ago to DRMS for approval to remove and reclaim these materials.

Mr. Sands’ claim that Wildcat Mining has constructed tailing ponds is also incorrect. Wildcat Mining proposes to store all tailings underground in a stope (room). Since it acquired the mines in 2006, Wildcat has not produced any tailings nor stored any tailings outside of the underground mine.  

Finally, since 2006, DRMS has determined certain of its Mining Rules were violated at the May Day and Idaho mines, and in each instance it took enforcement action resulting in the issuance of a penalty and a cease-and-desist order specifying steps to correct the violations, where necessary. Wildcat Mining has paid all penalties which were assessed and is in compliance with all of these orders.  

Our new management team, under the leadership of President Roger Tichenor, is committed to developing precious and strategic minerals in a manner that is compatible with the County land-use development plans. We are working very closely with all levels of regulatory agencies and will continue to communicate openly and honestly with the community. We respectfully request a correction of all the inaccuracies and unfounded claims in Mr. Sands March 17, 2011 article published in the Telegraph.  

– Sincerely, George M.L. Robinson, project manager May Day Idaho Mine Complex

(Editors’ reply: While Mr. Robinson may have us on semantics, the fact remains that the road, mining portal and mill in question were all constructed illegally. With this in mind, we find Wildcat Mining’s efforts to downplay its past transgressions disappointing. It also bears remembering that Wildcat Mining has always cast itself as an environmentally friendly mining company and never lived up to the claim.)

Doing great things for Durango

Dear Durango Telegraph,

I recently moved to Durango from Steamboat Springs. My company asked me to relocate to Durango so I could open up their new office in the area. We had purchased an existing insurance brokerage firm in La Plata County with the intentions of further growing our quickly expanding organization.

The first week I arrived in Durango was an absolute disaster. The task of organizing this new office and fixing all the mistakes of my predecessors was monumental. I was very stressed.

I was a little concerned of what I had gotten myself into. I had fire after fire to extinguish, and I hadn’t really met any of our new clients in person. I didn’t know what to expect from the people in Durango, and I was truly hoping they would be as pleasant as the wonderful clients I left in Steamboat. I was really beginning to miss the clients I left behind. I had worked hard for my Steamboat clients, and they had become more than my clients, they were great friends.

A young guy named Max came in to speak with the lady that runs our personal lines department about his personal auto policy. I walked up front to introduce myself. I was absolutely relieved at how down-to-earth this young guy was! We talked about skiing in the area, amongst other things.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that Melanie and I realized this guy was Max Wanatka, Emil Wanatka’s son.

It may sound silly, but my interaction with Max was the first time I really got excited about being here. It was a relief to know that I had relocated to a place full of nice, down-to-earth people.

Anytime a move is made to a new community it can be a closed door until people get to know you. It isn’t easy making friends in the insurance industry, and I value each and every relationship I’ve made in this town to date.

Emil Wanatka, currently running for City Council, and his family, welcomed me with open arms. He and his son were truly my first contact here in the Durango community. This interaction really set the tone as to what I could expect from other members of the community.

I believe Emil Wanatka is a great person, who could really do great things for Durango. He absolutely has my vote, and I hope this letter will help others understand the type of person he is.  

– Sincerely, Richard J. Rende, via e-mail

An engaged team player

To the Editors:

I have had the pleasure of working closely with Durango City Council candidate Dick White during my time on City Council, the Natural Lands Board, and the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee. I know Dick to be smart and engaged. He is a positive team player who will serve Durango well.

I appreciate Dick’s pledge to support Durango’s ongoing economic development efforts and our city’s sustainability and affordable-housing programs. I encourage the citizens of Durango to join me in supporting Dick’s candidacy and voting for him for City Council.

– Scott Graham, Durango

A quality of life candidate

Dear Editors,

Durango is fortunate this year to have four capable people running for the two open positions on the City Council. We have also had several recent forums, during which we could compare the candidates’ knowledge, approach and creative ideas on the current issues facing Durango.

While these forums are certainly helpful, three broader qualities should be considered prior to selecting the two candidates we intend to vote for:

1)  Long-term involvement with (and commitment to) downtown Durango

2) Achieving a balance of backgrounds and viewpoints among City Council members, and

3) Proven ability to listen to and work collaboratively with other people in a committee format.

Sweetie Marbury meets all of these criteria: as a local resident for more than 36 years, she has always been very interested and active in our community, and successfully mobilized her neighbors toward some very laudable results, including saving Brookside Park on North Main Avenue, and promoting the Existing Neighborhood Design Guidelines.

As our local community eases out of this economic recession, we need City Council members who can simultaneously attract new business opportunities to Durango, while protecting the small-town quality of life that many of us moved here (and stayed here) to enjoy. Sweetie Marbury is our candidate!

– Carolyn A. Hunter, Durango

Support for the big fight

To the Editors,

My mother, Dawn Mayberry, was recently (in February) diagnosed with uterine and breast cancer that has metastasized to her brain and lymph nodes. She is 48, has been married to the love of her life for 30 years and has six children – four still live at home and

she has homeschooled them since moving to Durango several years ago from California. She has always put others first and is the strongest and most caring person that I know. Due to a work-related injury a few years ago, she was not able to get insurance with an affordable premium (it was upwards of $600 a month for a high-deductible, high-risk plan) and chose a savings plan offered through Assurant Health that only covers $250 in doctor visits for the year and $700 in medications. The good thing about that now is that there are some contractual savings associated with that, however the self pay discount offered by the doctor’s office or hospital is often more favorable.

Now she is faced with fighting this cancer with no insurance, having to pay out of pocket. She has had CT scans and PET scans. She had some ER trips before the brain mets were diagnosed. She had several weeks of radiation treatment to her brain, which were just completed. She had a lymph node biopsy, then a lymph node removal surgery. She started chemo, and has had surgery for the port to be placed. Each chemo treatment – which she gets every three weeks – costs in the tens of thousands of dollars.

She and my father have been active with little league previous years – my dad has been a little league baseball coach and mom has been one of the team moms – and they are disappointed to not be able to participate this year.

I’m going to have a silent auction fund-raiser coming up soon and am collecting donations for this. It can be an item or service, or help volunteering at the event or collecting donations. I have also set up a website www.gofundme.com/DawnMayberry where donations can be sent to (there is a 5 percent fee taken by the site). I also keep the site updated, daily when possible, with info on her treatment and progress and photos for family and friends. Donations can also be sent to Pine River Valley Bank – Dawn Mayberry Fund. She is fighting hard, every day, but needs support!

– Jasmine Mayberry, Durango

The Soapbox is closed

Sorry folks! TheDurango Telegraphis no longer accepting candidate endorsements for the 2011 Durango City Council election. The slate is full and we have more than enough words to carry us through to Election Day on April 5.   


 

 

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