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.

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