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Front Page » February 8, 2011 » Opinion » Staff column:'Dogs keep' power lines down and out
Published 1,389 days ago

Staff column:'Dogs keep' power lines down and out


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Last Friday morning I sat and listened to a half dozen different groups making reports to the Rural Caucus at the Utah State Legislature.

The groups were of all interests each representing one type of industry or organization. The one that caught my eyes and ear was a presentation from the CEO of Garkane Power.

Garkane Power is the utility that supplies power to the residents and businesses of Garfield and Kane Counties, as well as a couple of counties in northern Arizona.

They have been in the mode of trying to put up some transmission lines between Hatch and Tropic in Kane County for over three years. The power is needed to supply a number of new homes that have sprung up in the area. Right now they have diesel generators running to keep the power on so there will not be any brown or black outs.

According to CEO Carl Albrecht, the company has spent over $2 million doing their due diligence and work to be sure the environment is protected where the transmission corridor will run. They had been working hard.

Then someone discovered that there were prarie dogs along the line. That became a problem, even though no one seemed to be sure they were the kind of prarie dogs that are endangered.

Consequently the company had to spend another half million dollars to mitigate their effects on the prarie dogs.

Albrecht told the legislators about the situation, explaining some of the things the company had to do to "protect" the animals.

"We even had to put up fences so they couldn't see what we were doing." he said. The audience erupted in laughter at that statement and someone mentioned "prarie dog pornography."

In a way it is funny, but it is also scary. Apparently there are now individuals looking to see if some of the private property along the lines also have protected prarie dogs. That means that if they are found it could really limit what those owners can do with that property.

As for not being sure about the kind of prarie dog that exists there, now some DNA testing is being done to be sure.

I am all for protecting species. I understand that we as human beings are interlocked with nature in so many ways that no one really understands it fully. Of course we should protect any species from being wiped out, but at what cost?

As many of you know, I have a number of regular dogs, not prarie dogs. I love every one of them dearly. I protect them, feed them, and make sure their medical needs are taken care of. But at some point, when one gets too old and can't chew, or move and enjoy the things it used to enjoy or it's health gets to the point where it is only suffering, I have to make a determination of whether to put them to sleep or not. I also draw the line at a certain monetary cost. That's because no matter how much I love a dog, a $5000 surgery to remove cancer or cure a chronic condition is just more than I can afford. So the time comes when I must make a fateful decision on their life.

No they are not endangered. But there is a limit as to what should be spent on anything like this. How much is it worth to keep those prarie dogs alive. And lets face it; death for them and their species is not certain because a power grid runs through their place of habitation.

I am no biologist, nor do I claim to be. But it is things like this that makes the common man steaming mad. Someone will have to pay for all that, and it ain't the prarie dogs.

I just want to know one thing. Where the hell has our common sense gone?

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February 8, 2011
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