DENVER … It was a lot of effort for a two-minute speech. My fellow commissioner was unable to attend the meeting of the state Parks & Wildlife Commission at the Westminster Doubletree Hotel as planned, so I got roped into the three-day trip … The state P&W agency had been dinging us on our application grants for an Alpine Ranger to manage our Off-Highway Vehicle traffic on county roads in the high country. Although the state OHV fund has specifically been restructured to help pay for OHV law enforcement, San Miguel County and its neighbors (Ouray, Hinsdale and San Juan) had been prevented from getting these state OHV grants because our joint county regs for OHV usage on our treacherous mountain roads includes insurance and driver’s licenses – neither of which requirements are mandated by the state. As such, the P&W bureaucracy has concluded our regs are “inconsistent” with the state’s regs, and as such can’t be funded … Which puts the four counties in a terrible situation. The state is saying it won’t help us pay for our Alpine Ranger to manage OHV traffic because we don’t let 10-year-olds run motorized OHVs on narrow jeep roads where the exposure is often extreme and quite likely deadly. If that sounds like a crazy situation, you’re right. It is … Although I only got two minutes to make my plea as to the unfairness of the situation, my fellow commissioners Pete McKay of Silverton and Lynn Padgett of Ridgway also spoke, and the three of us had a good effect … Given the legal quagmire of conflicting regs and regulatory inconsistencies, the P&W Commission promised to review the situation with its staff and try to find a solution – good news for the county, as budgets shrink and the ability to do things, like the Alpine Ranger position, become more and more tenuous on taxpayer funding alone … We’ll see if the trip to the big city actually nets the county some real dollars to help manage OHV use on our alpine roads.
APOCALPYTIC PLANET … If you think climate change is the only threat to our future as a species, think again. Paonia-based author Craig Childs has researched the real history of our cataclysmic earth and come up with the many ways the earth has died and come back to life in its multi-million year history. Once again we see that the Darwinian concept of slow, gradual change is counterbalanced by some of the catastrophic insights that Immanuel Velikovsky championed … I can’t help thinking of that dazzling chant that the native people of my hometown, San Francisco, sang and that I named one of my poetry chapbooks after, “Dancing on the Brink of the World.” That certainly describes living on the coast of California, where earthquake, flood, tsunami and volcanic activity abound. But it also speaks to our entire species, trying to find a foothold on an ever-changing planet … Childs is a great writer. He makes the science come alive with personal stories of his adventures seeking extreme habitats that reflect how the entire earth might one day look … Highly recommended.
WATERSHED … The Telluride Institute is hosting a screening in the Nugget Theatre this Friday night at 8 p.m. of Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for a New West, a documentary narrated by movie star and conservationist Robert Redford and produced by son Jamie … "The watershed issue is something that's happening all over the world, where the need for water is greater than the amount of water to provide for it," Robert Redford told Reuters news agency. "I think we're picking the Colorado River as an example of what's going on and trying to focus on that and draw attention to it." … Chimed in Telluride Institute board member Audrey Marnoy, “Watershed's creation, as an inspiring social action tool to engage people, synergizes with the Telluride Institute’s mission to collaborate with leading artists and scientists, businesses and the public to advance real solutions that support healthy environments, diverse cultures and progressive economies.” A short panel discussion bringing the film’s ideas to the local water situation will follow the screening.
NEW ENDEMIC … Ridgway-based Western Slope botanist for the Colorado Natural Heritage program Peggy Lyon reports that a new species of plant has been found in San Miguel and Montrose counties, Mentzelia paradoxensis. The new find was reported in Madroño, published by the California Botanical Society, in a paper by John J. Schenk and Larry Hufford of Washington State University at Pullman titled, “Taxonomic Novelties from Western North America in Menzelia section Bartonia (Loasaceae).” M. paradoxensis is closely related to M. marginata but was found to be its own distinct species.
THE TALKING GOURD
He sets up the cribbage board
while she shuffles the deck;
his scotch mingles with ice
while her hot cocoa steams
on this January night.
- David Reynolds