Monday, December 6, 2010

Lake Nighthorse recreation planning process continues this week

Click pic to enlarge
A reminder: This week are two workshops on the Lake Nighthorse recreation plan:

Shared Solutions to Water & Shoreline Recreation
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
4:00-8:00 pm
Durango Community Recreation Center

Developing Shared Solutions to Land-Based Recreation
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
4:00-8:00 pm
Durango Community Recreation Center

Everyone is welcome -- and needed. Come!

And so ... in preparation, I've offer ...

my reasons why I'm in favor of an engine-free and undeveloped Campbell Reservoir and Ridges Basin

Non-motorized and undeveloped wildlife habitat and quiet open space are the basin's best use ... 

Ecologically because of its location -- low elevation habitat linking the high country and the chaparral to the south, and historically heavily used migration and wintering area. Its still relatively undeveloped condition, despite its flooding and the new county road, make it both a rare (and growing rarer) and vital piece of our region's wildlife habitat.

Economically also because of its location and undeveloped condition. As well as protecting wildlife, and thereby supporting our tourism and hunting economies, an engine-free and development-free area expands the marketable recreation options in the area. Engine-free, Ridges Basin and Campbell Reservoir are excellent and unique nearby commodities -- offering quiet water and water-side open-space experiences, feeling very remote yet very close to downtown Durango.

Aside from mere convenience, as an industrialized and motorized recreation area, though, Ridges Basin would be only mediocre among the several other, much bigger and better nearby motorized reservoir areas. And then it would always be just mediocre open space and wildlife habitat, as well. So while gas stations in town might pump some more fuel, Ridges Basin would be just a lower-level option for powerboating tourists, while it could be a top-notch unique lure for those seeking a close-to-town quiet and wildlife-rich human-powered lake experience.

Realistically because the reality is, the area is too small to serve as both: The size and amphitheatre-like natural configuration of Ridges Basin means the noise of engines precludes and diminishes the area's other values as wildlife habitat and quiet open space.

Ethically Ridges Basin should remain motorless and undeveloped because those above qualities and values of Ridges Basin were why the area was public land and a DCDOW Wildlife Area before the reservoir site was condemned and appropriated by the Bureau of Reclamation, bypassing legal challenges and dodging public input. Given that history and circumstances, there is an obligation to honor this land's historic use and the original intentions of the land: Wildlife and open space.

Morally, this is a unique opportunity to step back from visions of immediate fun and gain and think, what is the best thing to leave our kids, and our kids' kids? The ecologically healthy, economically valuable, and historically significant place readily accessible from town that a quiet and engine-free Ridges Basin would be? Or yet another motorized, industrialized, and commercialized landscape?

Looking ahead, what will our kids need more?

Bonus reason!

Quagga mussels and water quality, which threaten the intention of the Animas-La Plata Project and primary purpose of the reservoir, would be a certainty with powerboating on Campbell Reservoir.

Learn more about the Lake Nighthorse planning process here.

Find helpful information about Lake Nighthorse here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Report from Lake Nighthorse public meeting

Some of my notes from the Campbell Reservoir public meeting on Tuesday, 11/16. Feel free to pass around any additions, clarifications, corrections, etc. 

Highlight of the night: 

Ron and Randy Bodo, the grandsons of Mike Bodo, who homesteaded the basin at the turn of the last century, we present. Roy spoke, and spoke in favor of keeping the lake engine-less (or, at a minimum, a no-wake lake). "We feel the lake is too small for motorboats," Ron Bodo said. He also said they were in favor of keeping the area for day-use only, and that they'd like to see hiking and biking trails.

"We did not want to see this area developed," he said. "We were (when they transferred the land to the CDOW via the Nature Conservancy in 1974) insuring the legacy of good stewardship would carry on."

Key issues:

Park Service representative Joy Lujan explained that a "successful" plan coming from this recreation planning process will have to meet four criteria:

- Publicly acceptable 
- Economically viable 
- Environmentally acceptable 
- Technically feasible

She also noted that depending upon what the management plan ends up allowing, there may need to be a supplemental EIS.

It was re-affirmed by Lujan and BuRec people that whatever plan comes out of this process will be binding to whatever agency or group ends up managing the Lake Nighthorse and surrounding BuRec land.

It was again asserted that the boat ramp funding requires and assures engines on the lake. [But: This is increasingly looking like it's just not so (despite the long-time claims of Jim Isgar, sponsor of the move the got the boat ramp built. (Soon to be named the Isgar National Boat Ramp?)) More will be forthcoming on this issue ... ]

Other interesting tidbits:

A BuRec official said that, even before any withdrawals are made from the reservoir, water levels will fluctuate about five feet per year just from evaporation loss alone. Well, with a surface area of 1,500 feet, that's 7,500 acre-feet of water per year lost to evaporation alone (never mind groudwater seepage). That is enough water for 30,000 people (and heavy water-using people at that).

Access for ATVs, motorcyles, and snowmobiles
are issues that are still on the table.

A representative of the Animas La Plata Association, which manages the water-pumping and control facilities for ALP, stated flatly that "a safe and reliable water supply" is the reservoir's first priority. He said that quaggua mussels are a major threat to those missions, and that the reservoir is prime mussel habitat. He also said gas, oil, and parking lot drainage are a major threat to the reservoir's water quality.

A Coast Guard reservist who works at area reservoirs noted that, bottom line, Lake Nighthorse is too small to safely, or even enjoyably, use speedboats or jet skis. "This is where you can bring your kids and grandkids and not get run over by a powerboat," he said.

The reservoir has already been stocked with 50,000 trout.

Learn more about Lake Nighthorse at the official Lake Nighthorse site, and the (very!) unofficial Silent Nighthorse Wiki

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reminder: Lake Nighthorse public forum Tuesday!

Click to embiggen.
Remember: Tuesday night is the public forum for the Lake Nighthorse (more properly referred to as Campbell Reservoir) recreation management planning process.

5 - 8 p.m. at Needham Elementary School, in Durango. (Click to see a map.)

Here's what the agenda is planned to look like:
The first 30 minutes will include a fact-based presentation by the design team, an explanation of the meeting process and stage setting by Joy Lujan from the National Park Service, brief comments from Bruce Whitehead from ALPWCD, a statement from the Bureau of Reclamation, and a statement from Randy Bodo.

From about 5:30 to 7:30, will be input from the public. People will tell the gathered officials and the audience what their interests, issues, ideas and concerns are by making a statement from a microphone at the front of the room. Visual aids are welcome. 

The final half hour will be an exercise to explore people's interests further. People will be be asked and answers tabulated to general questions like what kinds of recreational uses people engage in now, what their concerns about recreation at the lake, what kinds of recreational uses they might like to see at the lake, etc.
The entire meeting will be video taped.

Learn more about the Lake Nighthorse planning process here.

Find helpful information about Lake Nighthorse here.

See you there!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lake Nighthorse recreation planning process begins

Public meetings have been announced for input on the recreation management plan for the Ridges Basin/Lake Nighthorse (aka Campbell Reservoir, at least around my house).

I spoke with the National Park Service's Joy Lujan, who is organizing the meetings, and some BuRec people at the first open house, and they assured me that the management plan that comes out of this process in the Spring will be a binding plan for whomever ultimately manages the recreation on and around the reservoir.

Click to enlargen. Or visit the official Lake Nighthorse site.

Learn useful info about the project at the Silent Nighthorse Wiki

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Robert Reich tells "the large narrative" of our economy

I was at a meet-and-greet last night with Brian O'Donnell, who's running for State Representative for District 59, and he and I got to talking about things I was feeling about Obama (what is it with his inability to articulate clear rationales and guiding visions?), the Democratic Party (how can they continue to be so staggeringly fumbling, bumbling, and timid since the Carter Administration?), the Tea Party (who are fighting tirelessly for our RIGHT to get dicked by insurance companies, to have our jobs outsourced overseas, to a crappy education and low-paying unskilled jobs!), and -- of course! -- to the economy (when will someone have the backbone to say that Free Trade has been the biggest shafting of the middle-class worker since Indentured Servitude?).

Well, I enjoyed the meeting, even if it might have been a bit heavy on the "greet" for poor Mr. O'Donnell. But he listened (or feigned listening) as politely as a ... well, a politician. Which he's not. Yet. (Despite J. Paul Brown's supporters are mailing literature accusing O'Donnell of being a "tax and spend politician," even though he's never held office. He has, in fact, been working as a wildlands advocate for Trout Unlimited.)

O'Donnell and I did end up find some shared ground, though: Our respect for economist Robert Reich.

Last night Reich reminded me why that's so, when he was interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air." In the 20-minute interview, Reich is refreshingly clear, logical, and honest as he explained his view of where we are economically, and how we got here. And where we are is where we were at the start of the Great Depression: with a historic concentration of wealth in the hands of the wealthiest few, and a crushed middle class unable to afford to keep fueling the economy.

In 1928, says Reich, 23 percent of the country's wealth was in the hands of the richest 1 percent of the population; in 2007, the had 23.5 percent. Census data released this week show that the top-earning 20 percent of Americans received nearly half the income generated in the United States.

Reich cites some clear steps in how we got here, including the mechanization then out-sourcing of the workforce, an overly indebted middle class, and an absurdly wealthy upper class that turns to speculation as sport.

And he shares the concern over President Obama's lack of skill in articulating the situation and a rationale for moving beyond it, playing into the hands of Tea Partiers and those who would keep the status quo.  "He [Obama] has failed to connect the dots," says Reich, "and failed to provide the public a large and understandable narrative."

Like Reich can.

Listen to or read the "Fresh Air" interview here.

Watch an interview with Reich about his new book Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future here and below.