Whose river is the Animas?

Jonathan Thompson takes High Country News readers to his home town of Durango for a reprise of a western saga we’ve seen before: who gets to define the Animas River around which his city was built?

[I]t’s somewhat luxurious, maybe even decadent, to be able to have a community-wide fight over whether a park has a boat ramp or not, isn’t it? For me, there’s a special sort of irony in it all. Over the past 30 years, the river has morphed into a hybrid of the rule-free playground my friends and I cherished, and the community green space my father and his colleagues had envisioned.

“As Durango has become a destination for tourists and for those seeking a change in lifestyle,” wrote David Wegner, in his comments on the park plan, “the value of the Animas River increased. In a way, we are a victim of our success.”