Green Forests not Hot Cinders
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LaPlata county in southwestern Colorado does not need more forests lands burned. There has already been 106,00 acres burned since 2002. We need the Durango and Silverton train to cease running their coal fired locomotive during fire danger in it's path including Phase 2 fire restrictions as implemented by LaPlata county and The U.S. Forest Service.
We don't wish to shut the train down. We want the train owners to abide by the same rules when it comes to fire restrictions as the rest of us.
In the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, our National Forests founder, this should be our goal.
"I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."
• "Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us."
• "There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm."
• "The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value."
• "Conservation means development as much as it does protection."
Because the railroad was created by land grants in the 1870s, it falls under the authority of the Surface Transportation Board and the Federal Railroad Administration. These agencies don’t have the authority to shut down the train because of fire danger but have some oversight of operations.
Though it is unclear if the county has authority over the train, Harper said that it would never be an issue while his family owns the railroad. (We want to make sure).
Because the D&SNG predates the establishment of the San Juan National Forest in 1905, the U.S. Forest Service has no regulatory authority over the train
Joanne Spina, La Plata County manager, said the county has authority under Colorado state law to ban open fires, including the use of coal-fired engines, if there is sufficient evidence of high fire danger. (Okay then let's us it). (That's why there are fire restrictions). (Of Course those restrictions are sufficient evidence).
Because of these loopholes involving the United States Forest Service, the Surface Transportation Board, the Federal Railroad Administration and the county no one is assuming full responsibility for adhering to fire restrictions to our knowledge. The public is the only authority left after these loopholes. If enough public pressure is put on the Durango and Silverton Railroad and the La Plata county manager then they will positively adhere to the same fire restrictions as the rest of the public. Our National Forests belong to all American citizens and tax payers. Our National Forests don't belong solely to the train owners to take risks with as they so choose. They belong to all of us. Make your voice heard if you want to stop unnecessary risks in starting fires that can and will burn our National Forests, Wilderness areas, and your homes.
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