Friends in High Places
by Art Goodtimes
Sep 17, 2009 | 926 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print

HARRIS SHERMAN … It’s hard to believe that two of San Miguel County’s long-standing political friends are now (together!) in DC – Ken Salazar who heads up Interior (and thus BLM) and Harris who just got nominated by President Obama as Under Secretary of Agriculture in charge of Natural Resources and Environment (and thus the Forest Service) … Sherman, as you may recall, was the lead Arnold & Porter attorney regarding the state Public Utility Commission reversal of a county permitting decision that led to a citizen homeowner lawsuit the County joined in on against Tri-State (and only recently settled). It was in the midst of that case that Gov. Ritter tapped Harris to head up the Department of Natural Resources (DOW, State Land Board, Oil & Gas Conservation Commission and more) – a position that he’d held back in the early Eighties under Gov. Dick Lamm … And it’s Sherman who fearlessly carried out Ritter’s announced revision of the Oil & Gas regs that so infuriated the industry – even though many of us greenies felt he’d probably bent over backwards being fair to all parties. He replaces Pres. Bush’s slash & burn Under Secretary -- Mark Rey, a former timber industry DC lobbyist that the Native Forest Network labeled eight years ago as “the fox in the henhouse” … So, what’s so special about having Coloradans (and specifically political allies and friends) over BLM and the Forest Service? If there’s one state and national issue I’ve focused on in my 13 years in local public service, it’s been public lands. Why? Because about 65 percent of the land base in San Miguel County is controlled by the Feds or the State (e.g, no property tax revenue). Working with federal agencies is critical to protecting the environment of our county and preserving its economic vitality … It’s nice to know that now, after 13 years of often hostile federal appointees, we have good friends at the top.

COLLABORATVE CONSERVATION … I had intended to spend the majority of this column on last week’s fascinating Bridging the Gap colloquium in Fort Collins sponsored by CSU’s Center for Collaborative Conservation. I got to make a presentation about the Burn Canyon Salvage Timber Sale Community Monitoring Project that Phil and Linda Miller played such a huge part in establishing. And they also tapped me for a final conference wrap-up panel on Friday morning … Gary Nabhan gave the opening address on Tuesday. And Wednesday and Thursday were filled with talks and concurrent workshops on all aspects of collaborative conservation … So what is this new buzzword you ask. Nils Christoffersen, executive director of the Oregon-based Wallowa Resources (and friend of our own Seth Berg), gave a flip but not inaccurate definition of collaborative conservation – “an unnatural act between unconsenting adults.” Or as one county commissioner put it, “I hate collaboration, but I think it’s the only way forward.” In truth, collaborative conservation is working in partnership with all stakeholders, even one’s adversaries, in order to protect natural resources, foster resilient thinking (AKA sustainability) and meet the “triple bottom line” of economy, society and environment … This was a packed four days of travel, connections, visits with old friends, networking, new ideas, deepened understandings, and even possible future projects. Perhaps I can share more of what happened next week – although in the interim I’m off to DC and will probably have another full plate of experiences to share from that trip. Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI) is picking up the tab for that trip, since I’m Chair of CCI’s Public Lands Steering Committee and Chair of the National Association of Counties subcommittee on Gateway Communities. Salazar’s folks at Interior invited me to speak for county governments at a one-day gathering on gateway communities in conjunction with the formation of a new congressional caucus around this very issue … Does the world seem to be spinning ever faster to you, too, as we come closer to 2012?

HOLY MACHISMO? … Driving back from Fort Collins, this shiny new Toyota SUV whizzes by me on I-70, a rosary dangling from the rear view mirror, and a bumper sticker that reads, “I’ll keep my guns, freedom and money, and you can have ‘the change’.”

SPEAKING OF CATHOLICS … Did a Cardinal really visit St. Patrick’s and co-celebrate mass with our local deacon? I can’t recall ever hearing of that happening before. Certainly not in the 30 years I’ve lived here … But then again these days I’m more lapsed than faithful when it comes to the Roman Church.

WEEKLY QUOTA … "The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave." -George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

ENTHEOGENETICS … Cannabinoids methanandamide and JWH-015 stop prostate cancer cell growth in vitro, according to a recent paper in the British Journal of Cancer. Cannabinoids are a unique group of secondary metabolites found in the cannabis plant, which are responsible for the plant's peculiar pharmacological effects, and which occur naturally in the nervous and immune systems of animals. In lab studies methanandamide and JWH-15 reduce the size of prostate tumors in mice. These cannabinoids are believed to block CB2 receptors on the surface of cancerous cells.


Susan Culver is a reporter for the San Miguel Basin Forum

and a very fine poet with several chapbooks to her name.

We often disagree on political issues but I very much

admire her ability to make the marvelous concrete, as

in this shimmering short poem of place.

In the Hands of St. Michael

There was a moment when the river slipped

beneath the old miner's bridge, when the sun

shut its all-knowing eyes and what it missed

was etched in the grip of that murky swish,

my hair loosened from its little clip, fanned out

like an earthen wave, like a wild and russet flame,

my legs replaced by the flesh of a silver fish

and that I grew in this, fed on an underwater breath,

fed on diminishing distances, how the bank flanked past

with a hum, how the belly of the bridge heaved me up,

back to the sky and the sun, to the one simple truth

the world has ever known: anything is possible.

- Susan Culver

first published in “Poetic Diversity”

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