Ten reasons to be against the proposed Grandview connection

1. La Plata County officials can still request Oakridge Energy to preserve the back half of their parcels as open space to prevent the construction of numerous, sprawling, unregulated dirt roads and driveways with steep gradients that would fragment the Telegraph trail system. Many advocates of the Grandview Connection claim that the only way to prevent these sprawling roadways around Telegraph Pass and Crites Connection is through the concessionary measure of providing a connector road from Grandview to the developer’s property on Ewing Mesa. In reality, the County never asked Oakridge Energy to preserve the valued open space on the back half of their property before seeking out a right-of-way easement from them with the letter of intent to construct the Grandview connection.

Map of the proposed Grandview connection road that would connect Ewing Mesa with Grandview by the Mercy Medical Center. Originally the plan also called for connecting Ewing Mesa with Durango via paved road straight down Horse Gulch.

Map of the proposed Grandview connection road that would connect Ewing Mesa with Grandview by the Mercy Medical Center. Originally the plan also called for connecting Ewing Mesa with Durango via paved road straight down Horse Gulch.

2. It’s an expensive project that taxpayers would have to foot the bill for. In 2006 dollars, the project was estimated at $42.4 million dollars, not to mention the costs of condemning properties on High Lama Lane for the proposed roadway.

3. It would kill the solitude and rural character of recreating in Big Canyon and the greater Grandview Ridge area.

4. Its advocacy is based on the false pretense that it would shorten travel times between Grandview and Durango. Look at a topographic map and you’ll see why this justification defies logic.

5. Its advocacy is based on the false pretense that it would be necessary in the event that US 160 was shut down due to a bad accident occurring there. In reality, this baseless fear tactic could be used to justify the construction of a new road almost anywhere that the County wanted. Also, Mercy Medical Center already has a Care Flight helicopter in the event of such road closures or prohibitive travel times. Some people can even visit Animas Surgical Hospital or Durango Urgent Care instead depending on the injury or illness if US 160 were shut down. As an emergency responder, I can also tell you that there are alternative roadways to take to get to Mercy within the Golden Hour of emergency medical treatment when that is the goal.

6. Open space and trails high on Oakridge Energy’s property could still be protected and preserved by purchasing them outright as a strategic approach.

7. Protecting the open space around Grandview Ridge is what people in our area desire most. Our demographic in La Plata County values recreational opportunities related to dirt trails more than they value providing concessionary favoritism to out-of-state developers.

8. It would cut through a winter wildlife habitat for resting and feeding deer and elk herds—an area that’s typically closed by the BLM during the winter.

9. It would severely scar the landscape of Grandview Ridge and Big Canyon.

10. It’s the wrong approach towards addressing La Plata County’s future transportation needs. It’s time to start thinking outside the box, and start looking at sustainable modes of transportation that run off of locally harvested energy sources.

Please check out our petition to help conserve primitive open space around Grandview Ridge. You can make your voice heard by signing our petition! Here’s the link: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/oppose-the-proposed-grandview-connection

City of Durango to close on Horse Gulch property June 4

The City is scheduled to close on the 115-acre FLC Foundation property in Horse Gulch on June 4, Kevin Hall, Durango’s Parks, Open Space and Trails Development Manager, said at a meeting Monday.

Considered by many as part of Durango’s central park of open space, the property is rectangular shaped, running east to west, encompassing the southeast portion of the Meadow Loop. It also includes the very bottom of Anasazi Trail and Telegraph Trail.

The Meadow Loop

A rider on the Meadow Loop

In an effort to further protect the property as open space, the City will fund the $515,000 purchase partially with a $250,000 grant awarded by Great Outdoors Colorado, said Hall, who serves as staff for the monthly Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board meetings. The dedicated 2005 Open Space, Parks and Trail Fund will provide for the remaining $265,000 balance, he said.

After closing on the FLC Foundation property, Hall expects to work towards closing on the 366 acres of FLC Board of Trustees properties—which includes part of Raider Ridge—in the fall, using money from a recently awarded $1.2 million dollar GOCO grant.

Durango City Council approved the contract to purchase the 115-acre FLC Foundation property at their May 4 meeting. They also approved the grant agreement for the $1.2 million dollars awarded to purchase the FLC Board of Trustees’ properties.

The FLC Foundation property was given to the FLC Foundation many years ago and it obviously has not generated any income, said FLC Foundation Board President Jim Foster.

Wildflowers on the Meadow Loop

Wildflowers on the Meadow Loop

“The sale to the city is a win-win for both parties,” Foster said. “It’s a step forward for Durango’s recreational land acquisition and, for the Foundation, the cash will be invested to produce income that can be used for much-needed scholarships at Fort Lewis.”

Over the past year, the city has purchased or negotiated the purchase of about 960 acres in Horse Gulch. Combined with land previously acquired by the City, approximately 1,100 acres will be permanently protected in Horse Gulch by the end of 2010.