Consensus nets results

  As the president of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, I have many responsibilities to attempt to prevent the types of water wars that ultimately tear communities apart. The fact is that in a small community like our San Luis Valley, nothing is possible if we are unable to present a united front in the face of challenges.

I do sense a change in your publication’s focus towards the politics and policy of the federal government. I believe I sense a hardening in your attitudes toward those of us who have for generations taken a living from the Western landscape. For those of us who live in the landscapes which you are trying to protect, I believe this is a disservice, for only through the promotion of community-building will a sensible evolution of Western land use be possible.

Those of us who have been here for generations bear a huge burden for not extending a welcoming hand to those who have recently arrived from other climes; we should have welcomed them as neighbors and made use of their talents in building stronger communities. Instead, newcomers are frequently shunned. We should have helped them understand the laws, customs and traditions of our uses of the land and the water. Instead, we ignored and often abused their fresh new ideas.

If you had told the original members of the RGWCD that we would be negotiating reserved water rights settlements with the Forest Service or sponsoring a bill to protect the Rio Grande Corridor, they would be appalled, but that is exactly what is being done. It is being done with consensus, with a community not yet totally fragmented by an "us against them" mentality.

If it is results which your board desires, I hope that they will not abandon the support of community-based consensus.

Ray Wright
Monte Vista, Colorado