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Local Sierra Club chapter takes up topic of endangerment of public land

The Daily Times
Nov 6, 2005

FARMINGTON -- Sitting in a large lecture hall in San Juan College's Information Technology Center Friday evening, dozens of community members gathered to listen to a presentation regarding the dangers facing state and national public lands.

"We are removing protections of public lands that have existed for years," said Clayton Daughenbaugh, national conservation organizer with the Sierra Club. "We are no longer progressing in conservation, but we are rapidly moving in reverse."

Daughenbaugh stood in front of the crowd delivering information on both the increase of energy extraction from public lands as well as how the democratic process is changing because the government is increasingly taking away citizens' right to know and give input on these decisions.

"I would like everyone to know their actions will make a difference," said Daughenbaugh. "These policies and these actions are relevant to every individual."

Many of the audience members said they were at Daughenbaugh's presentation to both learn more and see how they could help.

Anne Coupland, 52, traveled with her husband from Aztec for the presentation.

"There is an assault on our land unlike any other we've seen," she said. "Public land is definitely under threat from this administration. I want to be better informed about this issue."

John Gadbois, 46, of Farmington, noted he was at the meeting because he is a man who appreciates the land around him.

"I spend a lot of time camping and hiking, this topic is very interesting to me," he said. "The more information I can get, the more I will be able to stay on top of these issues."

According to Daughenbaugh, he has traveled around the country speaking to various audiences about the public lands that are endangered because it is such an important topic to him and he feels it is just as important to the country.

"America is strong and delicate," he said. "But a lot of the beauty is targeted (by) oil and gas structures."

The Sierra Club is now in the process of asking New Mexico state legislators for their help with the issue. The group is looking to pass legislation that would require oil companies to compensate property owners when they build a well.

They are also trying to protect the Valle Vidal, a part of the Carson National Forest in northeastern New Mexico, from being drilled for oil.

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