Balloon fest troubles livestock, landowners

I am writing to express concerns about the proposed upcoming Mesa Verde Balloon Fest that has caused much havoc during the last five years. I wonder if the event’s promoters or balloonists realize how they have taken advantage of private landowners in the Mancos Valley. I have heard story after story about livestock that have become very frightened and aborted their foals or calves. I wonder whether the same thing is happening with deer in the valley.

Fences have been trampled by stampeding cattle and terrified horses. This resulted in hundreds of dollars of repair costs and veterinary bills. Do those balloonists realize that even if they fly as high as the required 300 feet, hissing balloons frighten animals. Even if the balloonists respect the “no-fly zone” over designated lands, that will not protect animals within at least a quarter mile. I wonder why they would hold this event over an agricultural valley where there are livestock in hundreds of little pastures. I even heard one balloonist tell a landowner to shut his horses up.

It is hard to imagine that people think it is landowners’ responsibility to protect their animals for this three-day event. Have those imposters seen horses shut in a corral or stable and watch them panic to the point that they lose their foals and calves. Not only that, often the females have damaged organs from scar tissue.

People have barged through gates, across irrigation ditches and over hay to get their balloons. This type of invasion would not be allowed anywhere else on private land.

Last fall, several Mancos Valley landowners made written pleas to organizers to not repeat this event. When the balloonists tell those private landowners that they cannot control where their balloons fly, that is the truth. That is a childish attitude.

What can be done to stop these balloons from flying over the Mancos area? People have suggested that they go to sparsely populated desert country, or I recently heard that the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation had a balloon flight.

Elena Cuevas

Durango

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