Whose Sarin Now?
Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "And Not a Drop to Drink," her April 3 column on the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, I do not believe the government is capable of cleaning it up in a timely and cost-effective manner. I believe the effort should be aimed at protecting the groundwater from further contamination and the land should be paved over and an airport built on it.
Mark W. Milburn
Sarin nerve gas? How comforting it is to know that the stuff that killed people in the Japanese subway was manufactured at our doorstep.
It's strange Dan Mulqueen didn't see any wildlife during his son's class trip to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. My experience has been that in a two-hour trip, you could see bald eagle, golden eagle, ferruginous hawk, Swainson's hawk, red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk (in winter), kestrel, prairie falcon, great horned owl, burrowing owl, western meadowlark, great blue heron, mallard, pied-billed grebe, American widgeon, pintail, pheasant, warblers in season, song sparrow, magpie--and those are just some of the birds. Prairie dogs, coyotes, cottontails, mule deer and white-tail deer all usually show up, and sometimes you can even spot a badger if you're lucky. And we shouldn't forget the bullsnakes and garter snakes, either (rattlers are there, too.)
Veteran wildlife watchers know that the best times for viewing wildlife are generally the early morning and early evening hours. Most school tours can't make it out to the arsenal during those times--the kids get there in the heat of the day. If adults on the trip don't know where or how to look for wildlife, they may not see much. But to assume there is no wildlife there is a big mistake.
I've been going on birding trips to the arsenal since 1988--four years longer than Dan has been visiting, evidently--and over the years, I've attended some of the same meetings he has attended. The arsenal definitely merits its Superfund status, and cleanup is going to be long and arduous. But the place does provide habitat for an amazing variety of wildlife, and with some intelligent and far-seeing management during cleanup, we should be able to keep it there.
Given how quickly people forget (and how much the government encourages them to), it won't be surprising to pick up the paper one day and see that some fat-cat developer has decided to put housing on the arsenal land that was supposed to be a "wildlife refuge."
And that the government has encouraged him.
Thanks for keeping an eye on the ball.
Editor's note: "And Not a Drop to Drink" inspired a flurry of faxes between Kevin Blose, Army installation co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Restoration Advisory Board ("Readiness Is Our Profession," reads his stationery), and community co-chair-elect John Yelenick. Blose accused Yelenick of using his RAB position inappropriately and forwarding a "personal agenda," to which Yelenick responded: "The RAB has continually expressed its concern with the DIMP migration pathway since its inception and expressly set the issue for the April 3 meeting. I would not have to be an advocate, if the Army did not censor...documentation since January 1997. I expect to give a complete presentation." Yelenick gave one last Thursday evening; as a result, RAB agreed to pursue a federal grant that would fund further studies of DIMP, a byproduct from the manufacture of sarin gas.
Rocking the Cradle
Shame, shame on you for Kenny Be's March 20 Worst-Case Scenario congratulating Denver City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega on robbing the cradle. What does a 41-year-old woman have in common with a 20-year-old boy who has no job, no legal papers and not much of an education? I think Debbie is looking for the son she never had but always wanted. She sure has one now.
You can call Debbie a councilwoman. I call her a cradle-robber. Shame, shame on you, Debbie.
The Flight of His Life
It has now been two months since you published Steve Jackson's excellent article about the abortion wars, in which I was one of the principal subjects ("The Fight of Their Lives," February 13). Since its publication, I have received dozens of letters and phone calls of support from Westword readers, not all of whom have identified themselves. And I have received a few verbal brickbats from those who think that Ken Scott is God's gift to Western civilization.
I want to thank the editors of Westword for devoting so much prominent space to an extremely important and difficult issue, and I especially want to thank Steve Jackson for a thorough, conscientious job of trying to understand both the issue at stake and how it has affected my life. I think it is the highest compliment to try to understand another person, and Steve did that for Westword readers.
One of the reasons I agreed to the interviews with Steve is that I believe we understand current events and history best through the eyes and lives of individuals who are directly affected. In the case of the abortion issue in Colorado society, that includes me, and I hoped that this would lead to a larger understanding of the issue among informed members of the public. I think that Steve's article has made an extremely valuable contribution to that objective, but that is entirely consistent with his previous excellent work.
It frankly makes me uncomfortable to read about myself, which is why I am reluctant to do these personal interviews, and I was squirming and embarrassed when Steve concluded that I am a "lonely and isolated man." That has unfortunately been true at times, but it is hard to read it in print. I wish to say, however, that the absolutely wonderful response of the Westword readers has not only made me a lot less "lonely and isolated," it has been really heartwarming, and the responding readers have given me a lot of strength. I am very grateful to all of you, including those who have just thought about it.
Dr. Warren Hern
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