I was disturbed to read about Ed Zink’s impending plans to cut a half-mile road though a beautiful National Forest and wetlands area in Hidden Valley (Herald, Sept. 25). The area Zink wants to build a road upon not only has a rich archaeological history, but it is also used by many members of the community for recreation. I cannot imagine his plan would even be considered a possibility if it were not for Zink’s extensive connections and influence in Durango. All this damage and intrusion to public lands to enrich and benefit one man?
Records show that Zink purchased this land in 2005. As Zink noted, the property deed provided him notice that “there is no access from a public road.” Sounds to me like he must have been well aware of limitations of the land in question. As the property concerned has a conservation easement (permitting the construction of one house), it appears Zink has already reaped significant tax rewards from this designation. Now he apparently wishes to do all this damage to make the land accessible to vehicles – apparently for the ultimate development of a single trophy house (what else would justify such great expense?).
The old “wagon road” that starts at County Road 203 and goes up to the land in question bisects property of Zink, his sister and a few other neighbors. That unimproved road had been used by the public for 80 to 100 years before Zink and his family decided to build a gate to prevent the further use of the historic public easement.
Zink appears to have correctly assumed that nobody would challenge the legality of this closure in court. This closure destroyed a wonderful public access between Animas and Hidden valleys. Quite ironic given Zink’s long involvement with Trails 2000 – a group that promotes access to public lands. I hope the Forest Service denies Zink’s request to build a road. I also think the Durango Chamber of Commerce needs to ask Zink to return all his “citizen of the year” awards.