Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Regarding the swap - letter to the Durango Telegraph

Coming back from the State Democratic Convention, I finally had the time to do something I’d wanted to for years. Track down and actually look at the land I’ve always treated with derision. A derision based on long ago secondhand stories of what someone else thought they knew and my own opposition to developing Alberta Park.

Although the land trade information is fairly obscure, Forest Service personnel were very helpful. After hop-scotching a couple people, having a little patience, there it was, the legal descriptions to nine parcels that Mr. McCombs traded for Alberta Park. Armed with that information I detoured to the Saguache County Court House & Forest Service Field Office where everyone was friendly and helpful in translating the legal descriptions into rough locations on the map.

I knew my notions were in trouble before Ieaving town in search of the “traded parcels.” They cluster around CR.41G about ten miles west of Hwy 285, south of Saguache. Very nice Mid-elevation country.

I wound up driving near or past six parcels feeling chagrined. I could see how the foresters out of Saguache district rejoiced at stitching those inholdings into the protection of the National Forest. I could even see how Mr. McCombs probably felt it was a square deal. In fact, when imagining what went on, back in 1986, in that Washington office (where the Interior Dept. overturned RGNF’s rejection of the land trade) a whole new layer of intrigue appears.

But then, from a citizen’s perspective it immediately begs the question: why must Alberta Park be sacrificed to gain protection for these other worthy parcels?

None of the virtue of what McCombs traded, justifies Alberta Park being bulldozed for a doomed speculation. Especially, not in the face of the challenges we will be grappling with these next years. Precious clean mountain water is a commodity we can’t afford to squander.