TUCSON … I haven’t been to this Arizona hot spot for 25 years. So it was intriguing when my long-time activist friend Jeff Widen of Durango invited me to speak at the Wilderness Mentoring Conference at Rex Ranch outside Tucson – an annual event sponsored by the Wilderness Support Center folks in Durango … Working within Club 20, Colorado Counties, Inc., the National Association of Counties and other regional and local public land collaborative processes, I have a unique perspective to share with wilderness advocates about working on wilderness issues in the rural west … Politics is a whole lot about building relationships, developing trust, knowing how to craft win-win solutions out of knotty win-lose issues … As a radical enviro activist in a past life, I’ve experienced the no-compromise battle-cry of my Earth First! compatriots in campaign after campaign. And now as a minor but important political player in the state’s wilderness initiatives, I understand how complex compromising can be – sometimes compromising a few elements makes a doomed proposal advance but always asking yourself – can it be done without compromising integrity? … With the annual Club 20 meeting looming this weekend up in Mesa County (where I’ll return to after my brief time in Tucson), I’m looking forward to hanging out with wilderness compadres in Arizona before having to spend time arguing with my more conservative Western Slope colleagues in Grand Junction.
BURN CANYON … This long-running salvage timber sale monitoring program – honored by the Ford Foundation as one of the dozen most interesting community forestry collaborations in the nation and administered under the auspices of the Public Land Partnership (PLP) of Delta, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties – met last week and resolved to seek a grant to continue its work, measuring the effects of salvage logging on plant regeneration in a ponderosa pine forest … It’s hoped that we will move from “by species” measurement of plant growth in the logged and unlogged areas of the forest to functional monitoring – identifying plants by broad “lumper” categories rather than precise “splitter” nomenclature. To do that, we hope to bring Dr. Maria Fernandez-Gimenez from Colorado State University in Fort Collins to teach volunteers and students, possibly even some 4-H kids, how to do functional monitoring using Daubenmire frames and transects … To date, the program has relied on the generous involvement of Phil and Linda Miller of Telluride to do the more technical measuring. But, in the hopes of making this a significant longitudinal study, we’re going to be doing outreach to local schools. And the question of where to archive this information to keep it accessible to the communities of the future in this watershed, we’ll be turning to the Telluride Institute and the program’s main partners – PLP, San Miguel County, the Norwood Forest Ranger District, Colorado Wild, and Sheep Mountain Alliance … For more information on the project or to consider volunteering for the community monitoring training in functional monitoring, please contact me at 970/708-0387.
SPEAKING OF CSU … I was quite honored when the Warner School of Natural Resources at CSU invited me to give the keynote speech at their annual NR Days on April 25th. The title of my talk is “In World War II Collaborators Were Shot” … Collaboration is of course a buzzword in public land arenas these days. And it’s an important process and crucial component of adaptive management. But it’s not without its downsides and challenges. Having participated in a number of collaborative processes over the years, it’s instructive to reflect on the ones that worked, the ones that didn’t, and the ones that are still around.
DAVIS FANSLER … It’s been a pleasure to serve with Davis Fansler. Under his wise leadership, together with the Town of Telluride and the County, the region has pulled together and formed the Intergovernmental meetings – a chance for all the regional governments in this county to meet on a regular basis and take on specific projects – recycling, fen research, energy, facility planning, impact mitigation and more … When I started county government 11 years ago, the county was involved in a costly lawsuit suing the Mountain Village. I’m proud that a decade later we are working jointly on the many complex issues that bedevil our region. And pleased that Davis and the Mountain Village have become partners rather than adversaries in that process … I salute Davis and I look forward to working with Rube Felicelli, whom I’m sure will do an excellent job as MV’s next mayor.