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Mining reclamation plan a good faith effort

To the Editor:

Every story needs conflict, a worthy or enthusiastic protagonist, and drama to sustain itself. Such was the case of the Independent news coverage on the proposed plan for the Pike View Quarry ("Scar blasting plan draws disbelief," Jan. 20). This story may have been a tasty tidbit for the conspiracy theorists, but lacked a great deal of accuracy in the facts and figures of the real story behind this proposal.

The mining claim for the Pike View quarry was first made back in 1906, and it wasn't until the 1970s that the current owners of Castle Concrete inherited the site that sits near the Air Force Academy. Both the company and community benefited from a good nearby supply of aggregate that helped to build NORAD, the AFA and tons of new houses and roads. Extracting this much-in-demand resource with little reclamation experience or science also left behind one of the greater challenges in local Colorado mining history.

Back in the '40s and '50s, when the mine was largely opened up, mining and reclamation were not the two sides of the same coin they are today. The art and sciences of reclamation are greatly advanced from what they once were, when they did not play a large part in the industry or among lawmakers. Consequently, this quarry was sliced in such a way and in such a place as to make reclamation very difficult, if not impossible, in the areas at the north end of the site.

The enhanced reclamation plan for this quarry that is currently being implemented first came into being back in 1990. It was ultimately (by the time it was passed by the City and County back in '95) an offshoot and consensus plan built from the expertise of the Governor's Mountain Scar Commission and what the joint City and County Mining Reclamation Advisory Committee (MRAC) concluded after five years of working on the subject. These plans were the result of hundreds of hours of work by hundreds of different people (some of which were leading world experts in mining reclamation) and all of whom studied the quarry at great length, and then offered up their best suggestions. The Permeon Staining that was added to the plan was a similar process as that used in the Glenwood Canyon project and was the only way in which to get the rock faces to quickly blend in better with the neighboring terrain. But in no way did this enhanced, largely cosmetic, plan address some of the original problems in this site where stability is questionable, to say nothing of what it would be like decades down the road. This lay-back plan is simply the best idea for this quarry site.

Furthermore, the area being addressed in this new plan actually comprises no more than a ten to fifteen percent increase in the overall plan for the quarry -- nowhere near the 50 percent that the Independent article and Mr. Laurenzi reported. The point is that the only way to properly reclaim this area is to get back, behind and under it to create softer gentler slopes in which to reclaim the land. So rather than jump up and down and act like the sky is falling, or cry foul play as Rick Laurenzi seems to want to do, the citizens of Colorado Springs should take some pleasure in the fact that an honest-to-goodness mining and reclamation plan is being offered to them.

Rather than try and paint Castle Concrete like some sort of evil empire, we should look at the facts of the last decade with the many noteworthy and agreeable joint ventures that now exist between Castle and this community. The willingness of Castle Concrete to reserve over a million dollars for reclamation, along with the sustained efforts of the Colorado Mountain Reclamation Foundation and hundreds of hard-working volunteers, all show clearly what good can come from working together. This new and improved plan is not something to be feared nor blasted by a bunch of hot empty words that ignore true process, and right action.

-- Cynthia A. Nicholos

Colorado Springs

Mining reclamation plan

a 'fantasy flight'

To the Editor:

Based upon your article, I think that Castle Concrete's strange proposal to "fix" the scarring on the mountain range is a good example of the adage, "Two wrongs don't make a right". Clearcutting century-old trees and denuding the land to plant seedlings as a way to "fix" the scars sounds to me like a fantasy flight into the unknown.

Our inability or refusal to respect, value and understand the complex biological processes of the natural world, placing convenience and financial considerations above all else, is a bad reflection upon us as a supposedly intellectual species. If we don't take care of what we are privileged to have here and now, we deserve to lose it. The business of any business is to make a profit in the easiest, least expensive way. It is therefore incumbent upon the rest of us to think of the resulting non-monetary costs and repercussions to land, water, plants and animals. Mitigation methods often fail to work as planned since we lack the humility to underestimate our knowledge and ability. Is it not true that if the land and water, wildlife and habitat are sacrificed in small enough increments, they will scarcely be noticed? How much resemblance does this planet bear to its former self less than a century ago?

Leave the abused areas as they are and as a reminder of our disdain for one of nature's creations and as a small hope that future generations might learn from our regrettable actions. I suppose we could tell tourists that the scars are "early Indian ruins".

-- Anita G. Brown

Colorado Springs

Facetious fish

To the Editor:

I found your article on Troy Witte (Small Talk, Jan. 27) interesting, as I have long referred to the "empty" fish symbol people display as the "whatever" fish. I always felt those people probably couldn't make up their minds which of the fish symbols to favor -- Christian or Darwin -- so they left the interior blank so as not to offend either side. (Businesses are great at this!)

Displayers of the "Christian" fish might be surprised to learn that the Christian fish itself is a rip-off of an even older symbol having its roots in pagan fertility awareness and sexuality. It was actually adapted from the Goddess-worshipping religions, and the symbol, when stood on end, represented the two crescent moons used to depict a part of the Goddess sacred in early fertility rites. Sometimes early Christians used the fish symbol to represent Mary's womb with the Christ child inside.

Barbara G. Walker's book, The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, tells how early Christians adopted the pagan fish symbol as a recognition sign for their religion. The book contains other interesting pagan legends concerning this symbol.

I appreciate Witte's humor in creating his "whatever" fish. Facetiousness is the best antidote to dogmatism, religious or otherwise.

-- Janet Brazill

Colorado Springs

Honoring reproductive

health choices

To the Editor:

January 22, 2000 marked the 27th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. This ruling guarantees the right to reproduce choice and recognizes that the deeply personal decision of abortion is best made by a woman, her family, and her doctor.

To commemorate Roe, we honor the responsible choices made each day by our clients and by the men and women of this state.

We honor the responsible choice of Karrie -- a 20-year-old student who used emergency contraception within 72 hours of unprotected sex and prevented an unintended pregnancy.

We honor the responsible choice of Hannah -- a 25-year-old pregnant mother of two who is seeking care through our prenatal program.

We honor the responsible choice of Max -- a 16-year-old who is participating in our teen pregnancy prevention program because he doesn't want to be a father yet.

We honor the responsible choice of Monique -- a 14-year-old who wants to remain a virgin until she's married, but wants information on how to resist peer pressure.

We honor the responsible choice of Jake and Sonia -- a married couple who felt that at this point in their lives abortion was the best decision for them.

We honor the responsible choice of Mark -- a 23-year-old man trying to protect himself and his partner from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

We honor the responsible choice of those who work to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion by making sex education and birth control accessible.

We honor the responsible choice of doctors and medical staff who -- often in the face of violence -- continue to provide reproductive health care services in partnership with their clients.

In honor of this 27th year anniversary, we celebrate Roe, Reproductive Freedom and Responsible Choices.

-- JoAnn Nilssen Loesel

Manager, Westside Health Center, Planned Parenthood

Colorado Springs

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