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The underside of Wildcat

Dear Durango Telegraph

As a Mayday resident and front row observer of Wildcat Mine Corp.’s attempt to mine in La Plata Canyon, I would like to comment on George Robbinson’s letter to theTelegraph printed on March 24.

To begin with, the reason Wildcat Mining Corp. permit was changed from a 10-acre, 110 permit to a 274-acre,112 permit: Mr. Robinson states it was to provide more transparency of all operations, greater environmental review, and increased regulatory input and monitoring. In fact the reason was the Colorado State Mining Board’s determination that Wildcat Mining Corp. had committed so many violations outside it’s original permit application that the permit area had to be expanded to encompass and prosecute those violations, address changes to the reclamation plan and change the financial warranty.

Mr. Robinson also stated that the 112 permit does not entail more surface disturbance or other mining then was originally requested. The illegal mill installed in the Mayday Mine was never on the original application, the illegal road connecting the Incas mine to the Mayday Mine wasn’t either, and the illegal portal was also not included.

Mr. Robinson also states that the majority of all operations will be conducted underground. In a question I submitted to Mr. Robinson, he replied that the mill and crusher will reside at the Mayday portal entrance, which is not underground. Mr. Robinson also failed to mention the generators to supply electricity that will be running continually during operating hours.

Mr. Robinson’s reference to the mill that was moved from the Idaho mine to the Mayday mine as not being an abandoned mill is incorrect. The Idaho Mill was in fact brought in from outside the canyon along with many of the processing plant’s components and illegally installed in the summer of 2006. Wildcat Mining Corp.’s use of the illegal mill in the Mayday Mine will be converted from a violation (illegal) to a permitted mill if the application is approved by the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety.

Mr. Robinson’s claim that Wildcat Mining didn’t engage in illegal blasting of an adit is also incorrect. I would refute the statement with the photos on the website www.stopwildcatmine.com. These photos were taken by inspectors from the state and also show the subsequent collapse on the illegal mill inside. A Division of Reclamation inspector’s report describes the blasting that occurred while he was approaching the site.

Wildcat Mining Corp.’s claim that the road does not cut through the banks of the La Plata River is somewhat confusing to me. The photos of the their illegal road down to the river may not be cutting into the banks of the river, but it looks like the ponds connected to the river have been smothered by the road and continued sloughing of debris into the wetlands to this day by the poorly constructed  road. This has resulted in the Army Corps of Engineers turning over action to the EPA for enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

While Wildcat Mining was working on the northern access to the Idaho Mine in 2006, they did cut into the river bank with a backhoe in order to transport heavy equipment. I personally witnessed and have photos of the backhoe in the La Plata River disturbing the river bed and flattening the banks to get a semi truck and multiple cement trucks across the river. This was all done illegally with no permits for access or construction.

Mr. Sands’ claim of tailings pond construction is quite correct. In a 2006 letter from the United States Forest Service, Wildcat Mining Corp. was notified that the tailings ponds it had dug were on Forest Service land and would need to be remedied.

Mr. Robinson claims that all penalties have been paid, but review of the MSHA site shows 21 violations with many delinquent fines and others under appeal.

Finally, Wildcat Mining’s new management’s claims of commitment to responsible environmental practices, working with the regulatory agencies and respect for the community sound like the same old, false, public relations story.

– Phil Vigil, Mayday


A candidate with creative solutions

To the Editors,

With budget cuts, loss of jobs and declining real estate values, there will be many difficult decisions for the new City Council to address. I think that all of the candidates are equally concerned with the future of Durango and maintaining the quality of life that we all enjoy as well as the need for moving toward a more green society. What is more necessary right now is addressing our more immediate needs. With more limited funds, we need to be more efficient with public projects as well as to determine whether or not we can afford them. We can also reduce the budget by improving the efficiency of city services (snow plowing would be a great place to start).

Affordable housing sounds like a reasonable goal to achieve, but what does that mean?

Currently, the City taxes local businesses to provide a small amount of housing at below-market prices. The number of units created are few, and average working people in Durango can’t afford them anyway. Supporting agencies that assist people attain home ownership is good for the community, but depending on them to solve the problem will never work. Nor will the small number of below-market housing units created by taxing local businesses. Its time that the City became more proactive and started attracting new businesses to Durango that are able to pay better wages so that working people will be able to afford homeownership. The City can also partner with development to create more affordable projects and, through the use of incentives, promote the use of alternative energy.

We are fortunate to have Emil Wanatka as one of our candidates. He is someone with the experience and skill sets to address these issues. His willingness to study the issues to a level of detail that are necessary to accurately understand them is impressive as are the number of creative solutions he provides. And we will need creative solutions to get through the difficulties that lie ahead while maintaining the quality of life that we all came here to enjoy.

Please vote for Emil Wanatka.  

– Loren Rowton, Durango

Sweetie’s record

To the Editors:

Sweetie (Anita) Marbury is running for Durango City Council, and it is my hope that you will give her your vote. She is notably experienced in the issues with which City Council has been and will be involved. As a teacher for more than 36 years, she has served the citizens of Durango and La Plata County as an educator and a mentor. She has seen many of you grow up!

Her interest in the welfare of our community has prompted her to become part of many City boards and commissions, including Comprehensive Land Use Code Plan and Advisory Committee, Established Neighborhood Design and Review Board, League of Women Voters, AAUW, Kiwanis and many others. Her interests are in recycling, infill within the city to enhance smart growth and protecting local resources and historical character.

Please study Sweetie’s record, talk with her and others with whom she has worked, and cast your vote for her for City Council.  

– Marilyn Leftwich, Durango

An asset to the community

To the Editors,

Dick White is a thoughtful and articulate person who I believe would be an asset to our community as a Durango city councilor. I worked together with Dick4

and a diverse group of stakeholders for several years to conceptualize and garner support for the Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency (4CORE). Throughout the process, Dick showed tremendous patience, humility and a sincere desire to work collaboratively. He is a champion of our local sustainability movement and is tireless in his commitment to fostering community self-reliance. He does his homework, is detail oriented and has a keen analytical mind – qualities that are important for a city councilor. I trust Dick to keep a watchful eye on the future of Durango and wholeheartedly endorse him.

– Greg Phillips, Durango

To the benefit of all

To the Editors:

As a 2011 Business Administration graduate from Fort Lewis, I notice more and more homes and shops going up for sale or rent. While wanting to stay in Durango is my overall goal, I worry about the stability of the city I work, play and live in. With the upcoming City Council elections, I feel the necessity to explain why Connie Imig is my No. 1 choice.

While being the executive director of Habitat for Humanity and being on the Board for the Natural Lands Preservation are essential jobs, managing the Spaaah Shop and Day Spa is an adventurous challenge. Being one of Connie’s employees, I am able to see her functioning in her day-to-day life. Connie has an air about her that draws people to her and her business.

Connie is a strong-willed, determined person who is committed to listening to her community and advocating for what the people want. Having been to Connie’s “Friendraisers” at the Durango Arts Center and Carvers, I know that she has strong beliefs that she is willing to fight for, but believes above all else in collaboration of the community. She will listen to the people of our community and fight for what WE believe is best for our town, our people and the surrounding areas. “What is right for one person, may not be right for everyone; that is why we need to work together and come up with a decision that hopefully benefits all,” Connie Imig.

With the restoration of the economy, Durango needs someone that can keep up as our economy grows and someone that continues to do right by us. We do not need the same old, outdated ideas that lead to foreclosed homes and empty store fronts. We need an innovator who will change things for the better. We need someone like Connie Imig. She has the experience, the knowledge, and the drive to change Durango for the better.

I choose Connie as my voice for Durango because she has the background experience needed; the will to change Durango for the better and the understanding that Durango needs an open-minded thinker who will listen to the different sides of an argument and, based on the facts and what the community needs, choose a solution.

Connie Imig is a strong leader that will move Durango toward a prosperous future.  

– Tuesday Schween, Durango

Extensively experienced candidates

To the Editors,My motto is to think and act responsibly. When I endorse Sweetie Marbury and Dick White as candidates for Durango City Council, I have researched their background experience, considered their work ethics and ability to listen to others. They tirelessly attend City Council and other meetings and participate in one-on-one discussions, week after week! They stand up for what they believe in, they are not beholden to any group or businesses, and they are problem-solvers.

Attending council meetings since 1980, Sweetie has been asking questions and waiting for answers, as she did in December 2010, when she was the only person asking budget questions. She worked to solve differences on the Mercury Village project. With her small family business background, she advocates for shortening the process for new businesses. She has petitioned the Council: to write the EPA to protect our air shed coming from the Four Corners Power Plant, to expand our recycling to become single-stream with recapture and composting components (which is good for the environment and creates jobs), and to support the Affordable Housing’s Fair Share Ordinance and Accessory Dwelling Units for homeowners. Sweetie has the experience to help guide the City because of the breadth and depth of her involvement. She is not a one-trick pony!

Dick White took early retirement from research and professorship in astronomy and moved to Durango, seeking public involvement in his passion for sustainability. He has led many committees to foster community self-reliance (in conjunction with the local food movement), collaborating for the good of all citizens, building the economy by streamlining the Land Use and Development Code, developing and implementing a Sustainability Action Plan, improving energy efficiency and more renewable energy generation, supporting Local First (the alliance of local independent businesses), and endorsing the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. Dick encourages investment in public-private partnerships for economic development, housing and resource efficiency, and for increased collaboration between the City of Durango and other local jurisdictions. Dick strongly believes “Our vision for the future must embrace everyone.”

Hopefully, you now see why Sweetie Marbury and Dick White have the most extensive experience in dealing with the real issues of the City of Durango and keeping Durango the best place to live!

– Cherry Miloe, Durango





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January 26, 2024
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