Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Big Picture of the Big Threats

The future is being shaped now.

That, of course, is always true, almost cliche. But regardless, here in the Four Corners, this may never have been more true than it is right now.

Several major and enormous projects in various stages of design, decision, review and approval now would lock the Four Corners, and the entire Southwest, into a future of a deepened role as the nation's "National Sacrifice Area" -- a title the region has already earned for more than half a century. (For some history, check out this film.)

The cumulative effects of a series of projects in production right now would set us even farther down that destructive path for the next century. These include:
  • The carving of a major new powerline route across the region to ship that energy to the major cities to the west -- Las Vagas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.
  • The development of Wolf Creek Village, a mega-resort proposed by billionaire B.J. Red McCombs on southwestern Colorado's Wolf Creek Pass -- a swath of land connecting the South San Juan and Weminuche wilderness areas, and a major migration route between these two islands of wildness.
  • Expansion of the dwindling San Juan Basin oil-and-gas production into the last, most inaccessible, most sensitive and still-undeveloped and unroaded nooks and crannies -- particularly the HD Mountains in southwestern Colorado and the Roan Plateau, in western Colorado.
  • The launching of strip mining operations for oil shale, which underlies much of Colorado's central West Slope.
  • The re-opening of uranium mining and processing, including new facilities in Grants, NM, and in the Paradox Valley, along the Dolores River, in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah.
Yes, there are other big battles under way as well, of course, that would have huge culture-and-lifestyle-altering implications for the region -- the expansion of the use of ORVs into the backcountry, the dewatering of the San Juan River, the completion of four lanes of traffic between Salt Lake City and Albuquerque, and proposals for a larger airport in southwestern Colorado. But the six projects cited above stand out because their fates are being decided right now, and because, as I said, they would irreversibly seal the fate of the Four Corners as a plundered province for the wealthy and the urbanites who can't get enough.

And they would lock the region out of a brighter -- and smarter -- future as a leader in alternative energy, alternative lifestyles, affordable living, and preserved, protected, wild, and undeveloped landscapes.

The time is now to shape the future. We love what we have here now, but what will our kids, and our kids' kids -- those who'll need the kinds of places we love now even more than we do -- have in 50 or 100 years? It's up to us to decide. Now.

To get involved, check out some of these fine groups:
  • Desert Rock: There's good blog that posts up-to-date information. Also, check out Dine CARE, a Navajo-based grassroots group.

"Society is like a stew. If you don't keep it stirred up you get a lot of scum on the top."
Ed Abbey

1 comment:

  1. d00d! When I would drive back to Colorado from Cali I would take I-40 to Gallup and up through Shiprock, Farmington, and into bee-youuuu-tee-ful Colorado. Coming around the sheer rock cliff curve at Hogback I could see the two power plants, one to the north and the other east of the Fruitland area. I used to swallow hard realizing there be lots of pollutants in the 4 Corners air. Living in cities the past 10+ years has... hardened? jaded? aided my self-proclaimed need and desire to take for granted clean air... But, coming from Cali and seeing just how *messed* up the Four Corners environment is becoming made me, I don't know. Mad. Sad. Yet, I wanted to bury my head in the sand and not think of it.

    Aw, these are still things I think about after all these years post-FLC.

    I like the site and the blog. It makes me think I should start writing again. But, all the old fears and cultural, assimilation, acculturation, yada yada, issues persist.

    Cheryl from Ignacio