Soap Box

Train could fund trail remediation

To the editor,

The D&SNGR train destroyed Hermosa Creek wilderness and one of the best trails in the Durango area (voted one of the top 10 blue trails in the United States). This is a call to all lovers/users of Hermosa Creek Trail to lobby the train to fund all the efforts toward Hermosa Creek trail remediation. This is the least D&SNGR can do! Contact the D&SNGR using their web site contact form or email the train’s spokesperson at:

It's time the train switched tracks

To the editor,

I am Emmett. I am 6 years old. I live in Durango. I do not like this wildfire. I think they should run the steam trains on electric to heat the water. They can use solar panels on days when it is sunny. Why I think they should do this is because I don’t want the train to cause fires. We need to protect our air and our forests and our firefighters.

– Emmett Kane, Durango (*Submitted by Emmett’s dad, Jeff, with Emmett’s permission.)

Get proactive on climate change

To the editor,

I appreciate Rep. Tipton’s recent letter “Key takeaways from the 416 Fire,” highlighting steps we can take to mitigate future wildfire risk, stating “We need to be proactive, not reactive” and “We can do more to prevent wildfires from occurring in the future.” I couldn’t agree more.

While past forest fire suppression has increased wildfire threat, so has a warming climate. The Forest Service website/Climate Change forecasts a bleak future for the Southwest with higher temperatures, less snow and an expected decrease in precipitation. They state, “The effects of climate change include more frequent wildfires that burn larger areas.”

Wildfires and climate change are bipartisan issues affecting us all. I encourage Tipton to take the recommendation of the Forest Service – “Use alternative energy: By reducing the use of fossil fuels, fewer greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere.” By joining the Climate Solutions Caucus in the House, Rep. Tipton could make sure that any legislation that moves forward on climate solutions would include representation from Southwest Colorado. Let’s be proactive, not reactive about climate change, and reduce the severity of our future drought and wildfire risks.

– Tim Thomas, Durango

Love the train, hate the coal

To the editor,

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a bedrock in our community. Much of our town’s prosperity is due to the approximately 200,000 passengers per year it attracts. I am grateful for the firefighting efforts they have employed up to this point, costing them money and man-power. Due to our “exceptional” drought conditions, it clearly is not enough, not now and not for the future. The sparks emitted from the coal-powered engine and the carbon greenhouse gas emissions have worn out their welcome, the cost to the community too high. It’s time for a common sense, level-headed conversation about alternatives to power the train that are safer and cleaner.

Electric trains have been employed in Europe and Asia for years and can be powered by on-board energy storage such as a battery system or used in conjunction with other fuels. Electric locomotives benefit from the high efficiency of electric motors. Additional efficiency can be gained from a regenerative braking system on the downhill trip from Silverton. Amtrak has employed clean diesel electric engines in California. Clean alternatives do
exist. Al Harper: We love the train, we need the train, we can’t risk more wildfires.

– Susan Atkinson, Durango

Stop believing the NRA's lies

To the editor,

When the National Rifle Association talks, Rep. Scott Tipton listens. Why? He received substantial campaign contributions from the NRA. In return, he cosponsored the Concealed Carry Act of 2017 which would allow anyone licensed to carry a concealed weapon in one state to carry it nationwide. The bill has passed the House of Representatives.

The NRA claims that we have a Second Amendment right to bear automatic weapons. Not true! Seven states and the District of Columbia have legally banned automatic weapons. After the Sandy Hook school massacre, Connecticut banned the sale of 183 types of weapons determined to be “weapons of war.” The United States Supreme Court has ruled that banning assault weapons is constitutional because Second Amendment protections do not apply to weapons of war. In other words, the Constitution does not enable we the people to arm ourselves as if we were in the army.

The NRA is wrong and when Scott Tipton listens to them, he is wrong, too. Federal bills to ban assault weapons are now in both chambers of Congress; the House bill is HB 5087. Now is the time for Tipton to listen to the people. Now is the time for Tipton to show integrity. Congressman Tipton, support the assault weapon ban or we will elect a congressman who will.

– James Cunningham, Durango