Soap Box

Playing 'Masters of the Universe'

To the editor,

I have a message for the people who want to relocate wolves to Colorado – and those who don’t. Leave native fauna (and flora) alone! If wolves return to Colorado on their own, fine. If they don’t, fine. Native animals have challenging lives as it is and don’t need our interference to make things worse. We need to:

1. Stop destroying habitat;

2. Unless you plan to eat what you kill, stop shooting, trapping, poisoning, experimenting on, feeding and relocating wildlife;

3. Remove domestic livestock from public land and leave it to wildlife. Take responsibility for your animals without public subsidies. Maybe meat should cost $40 a pound;

4. Quit playing “Masters of the Universe” as if humans know what’s best for every other living thing. Our hubris is appalling. Will species go extinct? Yes; they already are and will continue to do so at an alarming pace (and once they’re gone, we will go, too). Why? Because humans have determined that everything else on Earth was put here to serve our every greed, including the “right” to reproduce ad infinitum.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, everyone. (If I haven’t pissed you off, you’re not paying attention. Wake up!)

– Eilene Lyon, Durango

Board doesn't reflect county folks

To the editor,

Congratulations to the city of Durango for having captured all three seats on the Board of County Commissioners! Going back 24 years, the Democrat county commissioners representing District 3 have yet to win a majority of the voters in that district that includes Bayfield, Ignacio and Vallecito.

In the last election, results showed that the current county commissioner for District 1 received 5,869 votes and his opponent got 5,155 votes within the precincts for that district. That’s a 714-vote margin for the current District 1 commissioner that lost the overall tally by 23 votes!

In May, a bill allowing counties of 70,000 population or less to elect commissioners strictly by districts was passed with bipartisan support in the senate. The Democrat-controlled house killed it. House hearings on the bill included testimony by phone from FLC. The only two La Plata County residents testifying against the measure were Jean Walters, former head of the La Plata County Democrats, and Durango’s mayor Sweetie Marbury.

According to 2017 population statistics, La Plata County had 55,589 residents, and the city of Durango had 18,465 residents. In other words, a third of the county residents (those living in the city of Durango) elects 100 percent of the county commissioners.

Beginning in January, we’ll have three Democrat county commissioners, two of which couldn’t even win the majority of votes in the districts they were “elected” to represent. How is that representative government?

– Dennis Pierce, Durango

Make safe & secure shelter for all

To the editor,

Homelessness was identified as one of the top three issues for our City over the next five years by residents in Durango’s Community Satisfaction Survey of April 2018. The City needs to listen to the community by taking the survey to heart and prioritizing collaboration and cooperation with the County and nonprofits to work on the challenge of homelessness.

Homelessness is a complex and long-term issue. It must be addressed by the City by actively supporting the development of a safe and secure shelter for all homeless. This may mean different types of housing or shelter for the different situations of individuals and families that are homeless.

The City has a model that supports community service nonprofits (i.e. Manna Soup Kitchen, VOA) which could serve as an example for a way forward. The City contributes by providing a location, and the nonprofits use their expertise to create, manage and operate the services. Why not do this for all homeless?

Perhaps, the nonprofit and faith-based communities could help in the short term by each providing temporary shelter for just one or two individuals.

Recognizing that it will take time to create housing solutions for all, the City must take action now.

– Kim Baxter, Durango

Forethought not higher taxes

To the editor,

The defeat of the 2A tax issue in November was not a “no” vote for police, streets and infrastructure but a “no confidence” vote on the way the city is run.

I attended the “Wicked Problem” meetings held by the City, and I consider myself an informed citizen. I was not surprised by the vote. The lack of foresight and planning is a major factor. The 2015 Park and Rec (P&R) sales tax should not have been brought to a vote four years before it was set to expire.

Other departments have been going begging for a long time. That tax should have been allocated among P&R as well as the non-sexy streets and infrastructure and then put up for vote. Why not put that up for re-allocation now?

It could be that people are seeing the cost and cost overruns of P&R projects. For example, the soccer fields at FLC and the Whitewater Park both had to be re-worked after “completion” totaling another $1.5 million in tax dollars. The P&R Advisory Board just voted for a new $4.5M parking lot at Santa Rita Park. All this is paid from sales taxes that are now desperately needed for other City departments.

It should be pointed out that another increase in sewer and water fees looms in 2019. Quit draining the same sources for revenue and instead look to areas that have, for some reason, been sacrosanct. Overall, we need long-range planning, forethought and fairness not higher taxes.

– Alma Taylor Evans, Durango

Ranchers miss point of symposium

To the editor,

I read the OpEd in the Dec. 6 issue of the Telegraph from the La Plata County Farm Bureau and La Plata County Cattlemen’s Association titled “Wolf Symposium left ranchers out in the cold.” My impression was precisely the opposite. The entire symposium appeared to be designed to address the concerns of ranchers should wolf reintroduction take place in Colorado. Speakers were brought in who addressed the experience of ranchers in the northern Rockies where wolves currently reside. Presentations included specific information on livestock losses due to predation by wolves. Perhaps the letter writers weren’t listening. More likely they have a closed mind.

The symposium was not short on details. I found it to be a well-balanced discussion of what we might expect if wolves were deliberately reintroduced to Colorado. Ranchers will be affected by the presence of wolves. However, ranchers have no more say in the use of public lands than the rest of us. We already kill wildlife to benefit ranchers, a sad reality.

Ranchers are an important part of Colorado culture. In Durango, it’s very impressive to me that I can go into a restaurant and eat local produce and locally raised meat. Private ranches also provide valuable open space and form an important part of the ambiance of this incredible landscape. I’d like to see ranching remain viable and local farm-to-table programs grow.

But ranchers can also be closed minded and resistant to new ideas. They hold too much sway over the use of public lands. Ranching is steeped in public subsidies. Public lands belong to all of us, and their primary purpose is not to feed private cattle and sheep. Livestock have a negative impact on public lands. Yet ranchers and special interest groups like the Farm Bureau hold undue influence with  decision makers about the use of our public lands.

The Wolf Symposium provided credible scientific data that can be used to restore balance to our natural landscapes. Ranchers can participate in this dialogue for the benefit of all. The letter writers cherry-picked the information, and speaker Tom Compton, representing ranchers, also deliberately used misleading information to distort the truth. There are issues that need to be addressed. Instead of griping and offering stiff opposition, ranchers could provide useful insight into dialogue leading to the successful reintroduction of wolves in Colorado. That was the entire point of the symposium.

– James P McMahon, Durango