Editor’s Note: While there is a long history of radical environmentalism, eco-defense, and direct action in the greater Southwest area, as residents of Durango, it is easy to forget that our own community has a long history of environmental defense. WilderPress! will thus be bringing you a series of short articles detailing the often-forgotten or intentionally buried and ignored history of eco-defense in Durango and the surrounding area. This is the first article in that series. If you have suggestions for future articles for the series, email your ideas to the WilderPress! Editorial Collective.
On July 26th, 2005, an article appeared in The Durango Herald entitled “Vandals Target Resort Construction.” Now called The Glacier Club, Tamarron Resort is located between Durango and Purgatory (aka the abomination known as “Durango Mountain Resort”). Jesse Harlan Alderman reported for The Herald that an “estimated $100,000 worth of equipment was vandalized.” Lt. Dan Bender of the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office reported that the vandal or vandals, as Alderman wrote, “slashed truck tires and shot out windows on nine vehicles, cut fuel pump lines and defaced other property.” The equipment belonged to Durango contractor Rathjen Construction and Asphalt Paving Co. The Herald reported:
“We don’t know whether it was an ex-employee or one of these ‘Earth First’ people,” said company owner Bob Rathjen. “They really did know how to sabotage the place.” Late July 19, at least one person broke into the resort and trashed four separate construction sites, Bender said. Property on County Road 200 near Rockwood was also destroyed. The vandal attacked tires and windows and shot vehicles with a pellet gun, he said. Among the heavy equipment wrecked were Hitachi and Cat BL excavators and three dump trucks, Rathjen said. The vandalism forced the company to halt construction for a day and a half, he said.
The Herald also reported that Tamarron had recently added nine holes to its golf course, and was under an expansion plan that included the construction of large vacation homes on no less than 350 new lots. As The Herald reported:
“Rathjen suggested that the vandalism could be the work of environmentalists or an anti-development group. The company has been targeted in the past, he said. “We’ve had some minor things that we felt was the work of environmentalists,” he said.
Though Tamarron at the time only stationed security guards at its entrance, The Herald reported that Rathjen planned to hire additional night watchmen, adding to the overall cost of the expansion and cutting into the overall profit margin. If one of the fundamental aims of such actions is to inflict economic damage, this action, though successful in inflicting financial damage, ultimately failed in scale and scope in shutting the expansion project down. Much of the expansion planned for Tamarron, now called The Glacier Club, has been completed, and more is on the way. The action of July 2005 was a start, and a good start, but in order for such campaigns of economic sabotage to be successful, they must be sustained or at least more extensive in scale and scope.
Numerous autonomous strikes such as these can, however, have the potential to slow and in many cases stop the systematic destruction of the natural world. They can also serve as propaganda of the deed, inspiring and encouraging others to action. It is not necessary for each and every individual eco-defender to inflict extensive damage, for if small acts of sabotage are numerous and frequent enough, the damage will be extensive indeed.
Be careful, stay safe, plan well, and work only with those you know and trust, preferably in small groups of threes or fours. Never speak of actions to those who are not directly involved, even if you trust them.
Next in the local historiography series: an exclusive interview with one of the “Sandbench 12,” who were arrested while occupying a Forest Service office in Pagosa Springs to protest the Sandbench timber sale. Around 60 people participated in the occupation, and solidarity demonstrations took place outside the hearings.