Off-Road Vehicles Are Inescapable in Semi-Rural Desert Areas

Being a rural California resident, I am not a regular reader of the Tucson Weekly. I came across a reference to your article today and was so impressed that I felt compelled to write and say: Thank you!

I appreciate your courage and willingness to speak frankly to the growing epidemic of off-road-vehicle abuse on our public lands (Tuttle, Feb. 28). An untold story is the growing hardship being experienced by rural (or semi-rural) desert residents such as myself who live in areas that interface with public (Bureau of Land Management) lands. We are increasingly being subjected to the noise, dust and destruction of unregulated off-road recreation that spills over from these lands.

Local law enforcement is inadequately equipped to deal with the problem, and enforcement by the BLM is either inadequate or, as in the case of my area near Twentynine Palms, completely absent from the scene. Errant off-roaders violate with impunity, and homeowner efforts to address the problem are often met with retaliatory harassment, intimidation or threats. Imagine the off-road excesses you illustrated so well in your article, and then imagine that you cannot escape from it.

A solution that addresses the problem from the top down is badly needed, and articles like yours will play a vital role in focusing public attention on the issue.

Mark Heuston

If Agriculture and Mining Industries Cut Water Usage, We'd All Be Swimming

I recently visited Glen Canyon Dam, which forms Lake Powell. Inside the visitors' center was a display regarding the conservation of water.

Prominently displayed was a bar graph of yearly water usage in Arizona. The breakdown was that 92 percent of water in any given year was used by mines and agriculture. Business and residential users consume the remaining 8 percent. Of that, at least 6 percent is used to water parks, golf courses, school fields, artificial lakes, swimming pools, water parks and businesses. That leaves 2 percent for residents to wash their bodies and clothes, water their gardens and drink. Now, because of the wasteful use of water by the mines and agriculture, we are being asked to drink and bathe in recycled urine. I don't swallow this concept for one second.

Looking at the water-usage figures, who should be doing the conserving--the mines and agriculture, or residential users? Is my low-water toilet really going to have an impact on water conservation when agriculture is squandering our water on tax-subsidized crops like cotton? All one needs to do is go to Marana and see acre after acre of green fields being watered by flood irrigation (where much of the water is lost to evaporation). The water used is groundwater, not Central Arizona Project water!

Molly McKasson and Dave Devine distort what happened in the 1960s ("Fluid Situation," March 6). Groundwater was being used, but most of it was being used by agriculture. I don't give in to their guilt trip or the "global warming" scam, either.

The irony is that there has been less water usage, and because of that, Tucson Water did not generate enough revenue to pay its bloated fixed costs. Therefore, when you conserve, you can expect to pay a higher rate for your water. This is ludicrous.

You want to have unlimited water? Get the mines and agriculture to cut back by 5 percent.

Fred Edwards

RIAA Actions Are Having a Chilling Effect on the Entire Music Industry

The Recording Industry Association of America isn't winning anything. It's just repeating old patterns and refusing to adapt. The associated labels, however, are gradually getting it, and lumbering around to new positions ("Thank You for Not Sharing," Feb. 28).

The RIAA and other conglomerate attacks on peer-to-peer networks and the Internet delivery of music have a chilling factor, however--on the legitimate users. There are any number of people who won't download even from legal sites such as iTunes, eMusic (my first choice for legal downloads, along with Creative Commons-based sites such as Jamendo, which distributes my music) and Amazon, because they're convinced that doing anything of the sort will bring woe and misery down upon them from the RIAA's litigation-happy sharks. The litigation is also making people reluctant to share their music in legitimate ways--again, the RIAA has a history of misidentification, so how do I know that my compilation, Sparks, won't be identified as, oh, an album by the band Sparks, resulting in a kerfuffle?

The whole mess is one of those gray and cloudy things, though there are clear divisions, too, on either side of the murk. For me, the black hats would have to include the RIAA, whose operatives have made it very clear that they don't care if they destroy lives randomly or end the academic careers of students nationwide. They don't give a damn about the income of musicians and others in the music business (the RIAA went to Congress to try to get a reduction in royalties paid to artists and songwriters), and they unapologetically sue the terminally handicapped, the computerless, children and the dead.

David Alexander McDonald

Hey, Artists: Speak Out, Already!

In Andrew Mortazavi's article "Costs of Culture" (Currents, Feb. 28), it is revealed that the infamous bed tax--that mythical source of funding for Tucson arts organizations--is finally going to be scrutinized. I find it outrageous and absolutely unacceptable that it has taken since 1988 for this to occur; what is even worse is the lack of artists of any consequence who are speaking up about it!

Robert Steigert