Save the Gulch

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EC File Photo

Durango area residents have a common misperception that the Horse Gulch area is a protected playground. Horse Gulch is used for hiking, biking, horseback riding, wildlife habitat, and it serves as an important natural classroom for the college. All these activities in this area could easily be lost.

Volunteers from Trails 2000 began work in 1991 to build an impressive trail system in this area. Horse Gulch was host to the Single Speed World Championships at the end of last summer; this is a prestigious event that takes place once a year in different venues around the world. The fact that it landed in Horse Gulch illustrates the areas importance as a recreational resource.

Much of Horse Gulch is privately owned. These areas would be worth millions of dollars if they were to be developed and turned into homes. Some of the land is owned by the city of Durango and some by Fort Lewis College but that does not mean that the private owners do not have their own agenda. If the city built a road back into Horse Gulch, which has been talked about in city planning meetings, there would be a rush for private owners to start developing. A road may be built through this area to clear congestion on Hwy. 160 near the Farmington Hill. Many of the uses would be forever ruined if this were to happen.

An interpretive guide was put together last summer explaining all of the uses of Horse Gulch and will soon be on sale at the college and around town. The money from the sales of this guide will go towards a massive cleanup effort in the spring. For more information on this topic refer to this informative guide. There are many people that use this area daily and would be willing to do what it takes to keep it safe. With community support this area can be a free and permanent part of the Durango outdoor experience.

– Royce Johnson

Think Local: Save the Frogs!

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Save the Frog - Liz Grogan

In the world of preservation all animals may be equal, but some are definitely more equal than others. We tend to focus on exotic endangered species rather than our own “mundane” local ones, even those in great danger.
There is no reason to believe that tigers are ecologically more valuable than Colorado’s own boreal toad, yet there are hundreds of “Save the Tiger” campaigns, and zero “Save the Toad” lobbyists. Plants are ignored completely. Most people don’t even realize plants can, in fact, become endangered, and are just as necessary for a stable environment as animals.

Thousands of species on this planet are facing extinction due to human destruction. The World Conservation Union lists 3246 species that are critically endangered, with thousands more endangered, vulnerable, or threatened. Less than 300 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild. 150 Iberian lynx survive in all of Europe. There are only 125 kakapos, a type of parrot, still alive. Echo parakeets are finally recovering from a drop to 10 individuals in the mid-80s. So yes, some species are more endangered than others, and most of those do not live in Colorado.

Thirty-three endangered plants and animals live in Colorado. Amphibians face fatal mutations because of our polluted rivers. Fish are dying off and unable to reproduce because of hormones and heavy metals in the water. Not to mention the effects of development and overfishing. Birds have trouble migrating because city lights interfere with their navigation. Large carnivores such as wolves, lynx and grizzly bears are either extinct in the state or nearly so. As long as we live here, we cannot forget about those 33 species. No matter how boring they may seem to us, we need to do all we can to protect them. Without them, our entire ecosystem will collapse.

You can find a complete list of local endangered animals here and plants here.

– Liz Grogan