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Wood chips, and chips on the shoulder

Christmas trees can be dropped off at Santa Rita Park through Jan. 31. The city of Durango turns the discarded evergreens into mulch, which residents can pick up at Greenmount Cemetery in the spring.

Dear Action Line: I’ve never put up a Christmas tree before but with all that I, and the world, have gone through, I figured a hopeful, symbolic evergreen was just what I needed. But what do I do with this thing post-holiday? I’d just as soon say “good riddance” and chuck it out in the dumpster fire that is 2020, but do you have a favorite parking lot or turnout to discreetly dump a dried-out and over-tinseled Christmas tree? – Lady Sleigh

Dear Ms. Sleigh: Action Line is worried there is some connotation to “Lady Sleigh” that he’s not aware of. But anyway, yes, there is a great, secret place to dump it. Right behind the children’s playground at the east end of Santa Rita Park. Just drive carefully across the river trail, back up your vehicle fairly close to the river, toss away the tree and drive off slowly so as to not arouse suspicion or hit anyone.

Alas, this is all totally legal, and even promoted by the city of Durango. I know, what fun is that, right?

For several years now, the city has been collecting trees there, then turning them into mulch that residents can pick up at Greenmount Cemetery in the spring. A “couple hundred” trees are usually dropped off, said Scott McClain, assistant director of Parks and Recreation, which organizes the Christmas tree collection. It takes a couple of days to chip them all up.

The tree collection began Dec. 19 and goes through Jan. 31. Very Grinch-like that people drop off trees before Christmas. But possibly, McClain offered, they are going out of town and don’t want the desiccating tree around when they return. Farmington has a similar program that began Christmas Day and runs through Jan. 11. The trees you deposit at Berg Park will be turned into wood chips for city park landscaping.

Bad news, however, for you, Lady Sleigh. You have to take off the tinsel and the ornaments – like that Broncos bauble, or the stupid squirrel in his underpants ornament that your last boyfriend gave you – before dumping the tree. Them’s the rules.

Dear Action Line: Do wild animals have privacy rights? This question came to mind after reading the intimate article about “Squeaks,” the mountain lion. This poor guy was monitored 24/7 during his 558-mile trek across the Navajo Nation to Mesa Verde. Obviously, he was just looking for a girlfriend. Give him a break! How about some privacy? Would you like to be monitored like this? – Mountain Lion-Hearted

Dear Lion-Hearted: Aren’t we all being monitored like this every day, every minute? If the FBI isn’t doing it, you can bet the Russians are trying to. When you got that COVID-19 test, the end of the swab had a monitoring chip in it, and that’s why your nasal cavity burned so much. Like I’m telling people stuff they don’t know.

But we’re talking non-human animal privacy. Action Line went right to the source for serious knowledge about these kinds of issues.

“Well fortunately, neither the cougar nor any of his friends have access to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Reddit, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, Etsy, Pinterest, eharmony or Parler,” said Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “TikTok? Well, that might be another story given that a cougar in Mesa Verde could pose a threat to national security.”

Action Line was about to make a big joke of this question until realizing that some people take it very seriously. There’s the Nonhuman Rights Project, which believes chimpanzees, elephants, etc., deserve rights. And the Animal Legal Defense Fund, protecting animals against cruelty via legal action. No less than David Attenborough campaigns for peepholes at zoos for people to surreptitiously watch gorillas, who can come unglued at stupid human gestures.

My dog has a chip in her shoulder, and maybe on her shoulder when she finds out I’ve divulged this private fact. But when it comes to privacy, she still has no compunction about licking herself in whatever spot needs licking, no matter what important guests are around.

There are eagle cams, bear cams, marmot cams and motion-detector cams that many around here use to see what animals are lurking in the neighborhood.

Action Line is starting to creep himself out, thinking about “The Truman Show” and how that went, so let’s just finish this off. Bring back Joe, please. About that mountain lion?

“But seriously, radio-telemetry devices provide invaluable scientific information about wildlife,” he said. “Agencies, like Colorado Parks and Wildlife, use the information to help humans coexist with our furred and feathered – and even fish – friends.”

To see a map of Squeaks’ journey and a video of him at a water trough near Mancos, visit the Pueblo of Santa Ana Facebook site: https://bit.ly/38LWHWP.

Lewandowski concluded with authority: “I promise the lion won’t mind.”

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Enjoy the holidays, and see if you can be good to each other.

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