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NM Spaceport Concerns - (02/03/2006 Correspondence)

 

Hopefully, all who read this, whether agreeing with what I have written or not will ponder the ramifications and make your concerns known.

If you have no way to share your thoughts on this or related matters perhaps I could help by posting herein what similar problems you may be confronted with.

Thoughtful discussions on this topic or any related prospecting subject is invited.




To: SRSEIS@icfconsulting.com
Sent: Friday, February 03, 2006 4:15 PM
Subject: proposed NM Spaceport


Ms. Stacey M. Zee:

Fortunately, while prospecting the Federal Register I discovered this PUBLIC COMMENTS notation relating to the proposed Southwest Regional Spaceport, to be located in Sierra County, NM.

http://frwebgate5.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=718884175206+0+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve

The FAA invites interested agencies, organizations, Native American tribes, and members of the public to submit comments or suggestions to assist in identifying significant environmental issues and in determining the appropriate scope of the EIS. The public scoping period starts with the publication of this notice in the Federal Register. To ensure sufficient time to consider issues identified during the public scoping period, comments should be submitted to Ms. Stacey M. Zee by one of the methods listed below no later than March 3, 2006.

"Comments, statements, or questions concerning scoping issues or the EIS process should be mailed to Ms. Stacey M. Zee, FAA Environmental Specialist, Southwest Regional Spaceport EIS c/o ICF Consulting, 9300 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031. Comments can also be sent by e-mail to SRSEIS@icfconsulting.com or by fax to (703) 934-3951."

Because TorC and Las Cruces is so far from where I presently reside and prohibitively expensive to drive to I will not be able to attend the 1st scoping meeting that will be held in TorC, NM, nor am I likely to attend the second meeting in Las Cruces, NM. Therefore, I am electing to utilize this email option to digitally voice (write) my concerns & comments regarding this proposed NM spaceport.

Since 1982 I have occasionally been a resident of Sierra County, NM and have each and every year since 1983 been actively prospecting the Caballo Mountains, which are located South of TorC and West of the proposed spaceport. Prior to 1996 I was a partial owner of several lode mining claims, but due a variety of financial circumstances I was forced to drastically reduce the number of mining claims, yet retain one of the best potential ore deposits I believe (based upon extensive tests) exist in these mountains. These remaining lode mining claims are what has given me purpose that I too might experience the American dream by working diligently to somehow expose and encourage or initiate a serious mining venture. And, with the help of YHVH (The Creator) some of the known mineralized areas of the Caballo Mountains will become a significant source of mining wealth for Sierra County residents, whom share a rich cultural mining history. Furthermore, I want to continue seeing that this mountain range, which includes the eastern and western flanks of the Caballo's remains open to everyone, everyday to enjoy and use as often as physically possible.

In 1992-3 the NM Game & Fish, BLM and numerous green NGO's attempted to drive all humans out of the area referred to as the Caballo Mountains, which included, but was not limited to -- prospectors, wanna-be miners, ranchers, spelunkers, mountain climbers, geologists, backpackers, 4wheeler's, explorer's, rockhounders, and the hundreds of treasure hunters, so that the Mexican big horn sheep could be transplanted into & on these mountains.

During the time the State & Federal government agencies and green NGO's were attempting to implement their plan of re-introduction of these so-called endangered desert sheep they constantly stated that these sheep could not co-exist with human activity, especially during mating and birthing. Thus, because humans and sheep CANNOT tolerate human presence this so-called fact became the pretext to eliminate the human species presence in these Caballo Mountains, which are in intimate physical proximity of the proposed NM Spaceport.

Based upon what I hear, see and read, desert big horn sheep are located on Ted Turner's property (Armendaris Ranch or Fra Cristibol Mountain Range, formerly owned by Oppenheimer and was also used to run cattle on by R.O. Anderson). Apparently the NMDF&G are still in the Fra Cristobles attempting to breed and plant these sheep wherever they can.

In 1992 the people of Sierra County rose-up in opposition to the "sheep cheat" and after a lengthy confrontation the sheep went to other mountains. But, the green NGO's, the State and Federal agencies still have plans to plant their anti-human darlings everywhere they can, which includes the Caballo Mountains. For verification read:

http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/conservation/wildlife_management_plans/documents/everythingfinalBighornSheepPlan.pdf Consequently, how could this proposed spaceport intimately co-exist with these desert big horn sheep if no one else can?

This NGO web page http://www.nmwild.org/places/desert/caballo obviously thinks that infesting the Caballo's with these sheep is a suitable concept and clearly would threaten the Spaceport's existence if the Sheep are to do what is strongly implied will be done in the years ahead.

"Special Management Areas"
"Part of the Rincon Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) is found within the Southern Caballo Mountains unit. It is designated to protect Jornada-phase petroglyphs. There is a nominated ACEC in the Brushy Mountain unit due to its suitability for desert bighorn sheep reintroduction."

In addition, this same NGO (http://www.nmwild.org/places/desert/jornada) suggests that the Caballo Mountains, as well as the Jorando del Muerto be designated a wilderness area. Of course this would mean that ONLY limited human activity would be tolerated. Certainly no mining or anything that would upset the delicate green aspects of nature would be allowed to exist along side the critters that inhabit the landscape. Clearly, this also includes the immediate area of the proposed spaceport.

Furthermore, it was, and I presume the same State & Federal agencies continue wanting the sheep transplanted to Caballo Mts regions and maintain their plan to have corridors for the migration of desert big horn sheep to and from the Fra Cristobles, Caballo's and the San Andreas (WSMR area). These corridors would include the land-bridge area where the proposed spaceport is planned to be constructed, and includes all of the take-off and landing region. Therefore, either the sheep go or the spaceport does not get built. Then again, maybe the spaceport officials will have enough political pull to get all the sheep moved to other wilderness sites?

Concern #1

If the green NGO's, State & Federal agencies were not exaggerating or out-right fabricating untruths about the delicate nature of these protected endangered desert big horn sheep, which are living and breeding near this proposed spaceport -- won't the spaceport activities, including the extremely loud noise generated by rocket engine blasts (which will be louder andlast longer than any dynamiting that mining would cause) be detrimental to/for these poor darling sheep?

Besides the human presence, the portion of the Jorando del Muerto this spaceport is proposed to be built upon is home to endangered transplanted wolves, shy pronghorn antelope that flee when their telescopic vision spots a single human and transplanted protected eagles personally seen resting & nesting on the tall power transmission lines. Now, add the African imported wild Oryx hunters report seeing that have escaped their enclosures, and a whole host of animals that make their living in the direct path of this proposed spacecraft, such as red tailed hawks, falcons and coyotes that prey on the varmints. Extrapolating this potential ecological nightmare a little further into the future, what if the spaceport construction due to legislative activity drives the varmint predators out of the area – would the rat population detonate an exploding flea population, which might cause a new haunta virus or black plague threat to emerge into the entire region?

The greens consider us prospectors and miners as vermin and have been almost successful in exterminating our species. But, we too are part of the ecology and is necessary for the survival of the human species. Having said this – if this proposed spaceport, drives out what has been co-existing for hundreds of years will the law of unintended circumstances cause Murphy to visit? And, if so, who will be the blame and make restitution?

Another related question would be – what about the revenue the county and state will loose from loss of big game hunters, as well as the livelihoods of the tour guides, outfitters and ranchers that derive income from hunting activities situated on the exact same land of the proposed spaceport? Additionally, if the Ranchers are bought or forced out where will the revenue come from that the BLM extracts from each cow and the city of TorC relies upon for schools?

Oddly, I have not read nor have I heard any shouting from the green NGO's about how all this spaceport activity will affect the animals such as the endangered sheep or destroy the Jorando's tranquil visible vistas that a mining activity, as they constantly rant would cause. I guess if the right heads nod or wink the big boys can get what they want, but the little guy has to settle for and be thankful of a few occasional scattered crumbs.

Personally, the idea of space travel is thrilling and I would certainly enjoy the ride myself, but I am too old and obviously cannot and will not likely ever be able to afford such an expensive form of pleasure. Clearly, space tourism is only for the rich. But, should this grandiose display of power be enjoyed upon backs of the little man, who in all probability will never ride one of these spaceships nor live long enough to see any of the so-called fruits the promoters claim we all will reap?

It's reported that it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for a ride into and return safely from the darkness of limitless space. Likewise, it costs well over a hundred thousand dollars for a rich man to shoot a trophy desert big horn sheep in 2005 that reside only a few miles from the proposed spaceport.

http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/publications/press_releases/documents/3-16releases.pdf

Are those who promote this proposed spaceport so engrossed with their own wants that they have forgotten to do to others what they would want done to themselves?

Concern #2

Since 911 the BOR has constrained access to the Caballo Mountains by locking the Caballo Dam gates thereby barring the public, which includes Caballo Mountain prospectors and mining claim owners, as well as hundreds of people who come from as far away as other states to be in these Caballo Mts. The claim is that terrorists could damage the Caballo Dam and to protect the dam site the BOR denies the public from crossing over the spillway that was always open to travel since the creation of the dam. It is also claimed that access is not being denied to anyone who wants to go to the Caballo Mountains from the west side, because there is another road that allows access. But, this alternate road is several miles out of the way and only known to the few, certainly not the occasional tourist. This road closure over the dam would not be too much of an issue if it was not for that, as I understand it, one or more local ranchers have a key to these locked gates. Yet, when I asked the BOR (September 03, 2005 and on subsequent dates) as to how I too can get a key I never receive an answer. Therefore, based upon the 92-3 "sheep cheat" ordeal and the BOR's action I am concerned that access is slowly, perhaps intentionally being restricted, and that one day access to the Caballo Mountains and adjacent terrain will be completely denied. This drastic idea is further enhanced due to the fact that I can freely, without restriction of any kind cross over similar sized dams in Georgia that are controlled and operated by the TVA. As a result of what I stated herein, as well as several unstated but related coincidences it seems prudent of me to ask - is this proposed spaceport another way by which I and thousands of others will be driven out of the Caballo Mountains? When I first came to the Caballo’s in search of silver ore, the Caballo Mountains were constantly prospected by thousands of treasure hunters. But, as I see it, these past 10 years, with all the governmental restrictions treasure hunting tourism is drawing its last gasps. There are still a few hundred die-hards who continue to prospect this mountain’s terrain, but will this area remain open and free, or become locked-up under some pretense that human activity is detrimental to the flora and fauna? If so, then I fail to see how the proposed spaceport can be justified.

On August 4, 05, while dining at Hodges Resturant in Elephant Butte, NM I noticed a TorC newspaper article relating to the proposed NM spaceport, which reads in part:
"Every so often, Loomis mentioned that the FAA still needs to approve the site and the plans to build there." ""We have an area with the most controlled air space on the continent because of White Sands [Missile Range]. He added. That helps with launches because you don't have to worry about cross traffic in the air. It's one of the most ideal spots on the earth because of it location."" "Gaining the FAA license will depend a lot on the surrounding area remaining uninhabited, especially under the flight zone, however development would prove extremely difficult in the area - especially considering that a developer would need to gain permission from regional and county planning offices and zoning authorities."

This Mr. L. sure seems to have abundant or self-ordained knowledge to suggest that developers don't have a chance in Hell of obtaining a permit to develop the area. His arrogance compels me to speculate - is he so powerful that he can tell others what they can, will and won't do? Or, does he have special inside political knowledge that what he apparently stated is already a done deal? Due to this newspaper article it seems that I am justified in construing that this gentleman believes this spaceport is more important than any other potential project that could threaten this empire and any associated potential money milking schemes. I wonder if he has considered what the RV'rs, 4wheelers, backpackers, recreationalist's, treasure hunters, deer hunters, and tourists think is important? On a similar subject - is it possible that he considers prospectors & wanna-be miners only a temporary nuisance who will find themselves cast adrift in his imposed sea of red tape? Similarly, I wonder what the probability is that the Caballo Mountain mining claim owners will be kicked-out?

On Thursday August 18, 2005, while at the Sierra County Tax assessor's office, after picking up my State required mining claim Proof of Labor forms and beginning to ask the tax assessor about the proposed Space Port I and a Caballo compadre met a man who's business card indicated that he was well connected to the proposed spaceport. He began telling us, as personnel at the Tax Assessor's office listened about some of the proposals being batted around as to where and how the SpacePort will be initiated. I asked this well spoken gentleman - if I had an ongoing mining activity in the Caballo Mountains would this mining activity be affected in any manner? He basically said: he did not think so, but it was too early to say for sure exactly what would happen in the up-coming years. He further indicated that there seems to be some concern about the electric power lines in the Jorando. And, if these power lines or the railroad lines could not be moved it is possible that the proposed runway could or might be moved west towards the Caballo's, and this might affect some mining activity. Needless to say this information sent off alarm bells, and have remained ringing load as I write herein. Adding more fuel to an already smoldering mental fire I read today that it is becoming more likely that this proposed spaceport MAY indeed have to move closer to the Caballo Mountains. Therefore, is this another cheat dressed in sheep's skin, that will drive us all out of the Caballo's?

Based upon the numerous recent items I have read this spaceport cannot become a reality without imposing some kind of a tax upon the local community of Sierra County and specifically TorC, NM.

Over the years I've conducted numerous studies about Sierra County and history has painted a rather grim financial portrait of the local people who for the most part live on a hand to mouth existence. Therefore, I fail to comprehend how adding more burdens to an already impoverished community can possibly finance this proposed spaceport that is going to cost hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. Maybe the tourists are going to have to foot the bill, but what will happen when they don't keep coming? How many tourists visit Cap Canaveral at every life off, especially since the newness has worn off? Who's going to foot the bills when tourists stop coming to see lift offs? Will the local people be told they must carry more of the financial burden to keep the rockets zooming?

History is replete with scams perpetrated by smooth talking charlatans. The words "Ponzi and Rube Goldberg" come to mind when I hear the word spaceport or when I see the sign on Interstate 25 indicating "future home" of the NM spaceport, as if this is going to engender some kind of allegiance of the poor to the goals of a few rich men, who seem oblivious of the people's plight in this area of New Mexico.

I've been around the block a time or two and have seen many so-called good-deals that seldom benefit those who are being lured into biting great looking bait. For instance: many times I have seen local communities beat the poverty war drums by suggesting that if the community will get behind the plan to build industrial complexes then big business will come, just like in the fantasy movie "Field of Dreams" starring Kevin Costner. The official's line-up the financing, saying no new taxes will be required to appease the people who want better paying jobs that these industrial centers will produce. The same officials will eventually get a few corporations to locate in these poor rural areas due to the cheap labor and the fact that the buildings and equipment have been bought by an unsuspecting populace to be paid for with bonds. Everything seems fine, there are more jobs and a few people are actually prospering. But, when it comes time for the companies inhabiting these industrial complexes to begin paying back the accrued costs, these companies usually suddenly close their doors and move on to greener pastures ripe for the picking. The people end up worse off and in deeper debt than before all hype, with no prospects of ever getting out of their ignorantly created debt holes. Will this likely happen with this proposed spaceport? And, should it happen what about the left behind environment, will the state who helped fund this enterprise then demand the public clean-up the place with more tax dollars?

A few months ago, while in New Mexico I read and heard how a few hundred well paying jobs would occur if and when the spaceport became a reality. Then, several weeks ago the job creation picture expanded to a couple thousand and today reading this article

http://www.observer-online.com/articles/2006/02/02/news/story6.txt the number of jobs coming about as a result of this spaceport has climbed to 6000. Jeepers, creepers, before the NM legislature hears much more testimony to approve many more millions for this and that goodie to help lift this spaceport off the ground the job numbers might well have grow to hundreds of thousands. Absolutely fantastic, this exponential job growth in just a few months suggests that everyone in New Mexico will be working for the spaceport. The sad truth is that it is partially reality now because the wise legislators are about to drop in the spaceport’s hog troughs hundreds of millions. And once these funds are committed, the project will become too big too fail and likely numerous bailouts will be required. What’s really fascinating to me is how will the environmentalist & wilderness NGO’s along with their companions at the NMDG&F turn a blind eye at what they have been saying these past 30 years for this area? Is it possible that these green NGO’s were created to drive out any competing interests like the prospectors & miner’s so that they could pave the way for a future spaceport? Of course, these green killing machines are not new, for it has happened to logging, ranching and other self-sustaining businesses all over the West.

There's no free lunch, the bills will come due. I wonder if the Sierra County Commissioners who have said (according to online news reports) they support raising taxes will dig deep into their own pockets when Murphy comes a calling? Or, what’s more likely is that by the time the mortgaged future is due and payable those who initiated the taxes and debt will be long-gone.

Several years ago the promoted get rich scheme being perpetrated everywhere, including Sierra County's largest incorporated city - Truth or Consequences - was tourism. The promoters said TorC's financial troubles would disappear or at least be mitigated if tourists would frequent the area. The question was how to get the tourists to flock to this community? Some type of funding was necessary to pay for fancy slick glossy advertising, after-all, if the strangers in far off lands did not know about this enchanting portion of New Mexico they wouldn't come.

As usual, the answer was lying before everyone's eyes - taxation. Wow, slick, supposedly no taxes upon local folks but upon rich tourists who would do all the purchasing and lodging in this tiny tucked out of sight roadside side town. After initiating the taxation plan -- motel rooms, gasoline, goods and services were costing more, but this tax was fair because it did not discriminate. It did not matter if one was poor or rich, those who came to visit had to pay. Trouble was and is, the locals also had to pay too and continue doing so to keep financing the plan that failed.

Why this scheme of taxing foreigners was magnificent. It was a perpetual motion machine that would never need repair, and like the TV bunny rabbit would keep going and going and going. What was not mentioned was the cost to repurchase new batteries to breath new life into this walking dead machine.

I tried to warn the County Commissioner's in 1992-3 that tourism would be a short live phenomena that would eventually decimate the community, where nothing would be left behind but despair once the tourist had picked over the few remaining bones. Naturally, my concerns fell on deaf ears, primarily because the needs of the people were so stark and revealing, plus, the politicians had to do something or they'd face joining the ranks of hopelessness. Besides, with these new tax revenues the do-nothing chamber of commerce would now appear to be the people's friend and not just another blood sucking agency.

Wherever I lived during this period of time - tourism was being touted as clean and the old faithful, ugly and dirty industries had to go, and leave they did and continue to do, taking the jobs with them. If the people want taxes, and the local companies cannot afford to dance to the tax tune, the companies quit doing the polka and two-step out of town and eventually the country.
Will this happen with the spaceport if another state offers a better deal?

Then as now Green was in and basics were out. Never mind that a backbone should remain to support the rest of the body. Nope, cut-off that which is offensive, delete that which allows freedom of movement. No need to worry, because this new green clean machine will make all things right and bright. Yeah -- right!

As the trickling tourist taxes continued bringing home the lean bacon, Sierra County officials somehow failed to notice that the motels were not overflowing with tourists flocking to see the spotted owls, eagles, wolves and sheep the greens and taxer's said would come. Strangely everyone seemed to be blinded by the razzel-dazzle of tourist dollars to see that prosperity never arrived and misery was on the rise.

A few days ago, while visiting the bank and I asked what the price of a ticket is to ride the tourist train from Blue Ridge, Georgia to Copperhill, Tennessee and return. I expected the fare to be close to a 100.00, but it was only a meager 20 & 30 dollars for a three and half hour round trip excursion through the woods. The people in the bank said that the tourist train might not be around much longer because the city of Blue Ridge wanted more revenue and was going to raise the tax charge a dollar per tourist head that rode the train. Apparently, the train owner(s) are saying they will be forced to leave, because this dollar tax increase would cause the tourists to stop riding this ancient form of travel. But taxes are good, aren't they? The people in the bank thought the scene they just portrayed to me was funny. One day the banker's won't be laughing when their customers are forced to flee due to the constantly rising sea of taxation.

I think 13 years is a sufficient amount of time to prove whether imposed tourist taxes in Sierra County accomplished the intended goals or not. When I first began my annual pilgrimages to the Caballo Mountains TorC was a dirty, tiny, not much hope type of town. Everyone who visited the area knew this stark fact, but in some ways kinda enjoyed the laid-back quietness of this quaint community. During those 13 years I actually witnessed the death of TorC, although the walking dead didn't know it yet. TorC is actually worse to view now than when I first visited. The out with the old and in with the new get rich tourism scheme did not work. Interestingly, it seems that a new repackaging form of tourism is being promoted as rides into space, where there are jobs galore, flowing money and everyone is living high on the hog in this new found paradise. Just imagine - people from all over the world will come to TorC to witness the new era liftoff. But, will they keep coming?

Let's face reality, TorC is poor and getting poorer. There are few to zero manufacturer's and it has been years since there were decent paying jobs that build a sustainable infrastructure. The prospect of private businesses locating in TorC is zilch. The young have always left or seek to leave, leaving behind only the old, sick and dying to inhabit this desolate environment where weather is the last remaining saleable commodity, till it too is taxed into oblivion and the snow birds are driven off.

If private enterprise is no longer desirable and employment is only via government, where everyone is equal, earning the exact same pay, paying exactly the same taxes, and everyone telling everyone how to live and enjoy being told what, when and how to live from womb to tomb then I see no problem living in this utopia. But, history suggests this environment never existed and is not likely too in the foreseeable future.

It's time to stop pretending that tourism is the only option left, upon which to build a better tomorrow. Sierra County is rich in minerals, and these minerals are harvestable, but the green's who only destroy free enterprise must leave. So, assuming that the spaceport is not a carnival act or a pie in the sky pipe dream and is such a good deal that cannot be passed-up, then why does the taxpayer have to fund what NASA won't use?

There are several other serious issues that could and should be presented herein that deserve scrutiny regarding this spaceport. But, if what I have discussed so far cannot be dealt with in a manner mutually desirable for one and all then anything else I could discuss would be a dialog in frustration and wasted energy.

Like I said previously - the concept of a private spaceport enterprise is a fantastic goal, but not on the backs of those who can least afford it. Furthermore, if this spaceport is too become a viable endeavor then it must not restrict access to and from the Caballo Mountains, nor inhibit any future mining operation(s) that would enhance the pockets of Sierra County residents. This space tourism architecture should help, not hinder the people who inhabit Sierra County, but I fail to comprehend how bureaucratic rules and taxes could ever make life a more enjoyable aspect of Sierra County, that is already burdened beyond any recognition of freedom to experience what America promised the poor and downtrodden. If the State highway workers can post a sign on the expressways saying "give us a break - slow down", then dosen't the taxpayer deserve a break from sky-rocketing taxation?

Gravity indicates -- what goes up also comes down. Likewise, because liftoff and landing are perilous it would seem prudent for those who want to see this spaceport thrive will also want the same for everyone else, and would not dream of damaging the rights of those who live, work and play in the Caballo Mountain country side?

I know I am a numbskull mineral prospector, but I’m tired of being blindsided with sucker punches by the gentle sounding promises of those who claim to have our best interests in mind. So, I think anyone can see why I think it's a little peculiar when those who want this spaceport never took a moment to contact the little people that live in Sierra County to see what they wanted. I know that I had to do a lot of online prospecting and asking to get only a few questionable replies, and very little useful information and absolutely no assurances that we won't get kicked-out or our desires locked up behind unassailable razor-wire fences. Therefore, if the spaceport is to be a NM reality there has too be a way for us all to benefit, and if not, then, perhaps the spaceport is not such a great idea, at least not in NM.

Respectfully,

Joseph Cummins
P.O. Box 469
Mineral Bluff, GA 30559

P.S. I will be posting a copy of this email on my new website so others can read my concerns. And, I will be sending New Mexico legislators either a copy of this email or an address to my web site who have publically expressed concerns about this proposed spaceport.