UP BEAR CREEK | Sheep Mtn. Alliance Turns 25
by Art Goodtimes
Oct 19, 2013 | 1679 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LOCAL ENVIRO GROUP … Back in the late 80s (17980s AAC), the San Juan National Forest decided they wanted to do a timber sale in the mushroom fields of Sheep Mountain on the east side of Lizard Head Pass. Longtime local and former Timberline Hardware owner Jack Pera was incensed. Mushroom hunters like me were worried. Many Telluriders were not happy. The spruce-fir forests at the top of the Dolores River watershed are San Juan Mountains iconic, and the prospect of logging trucks, clearcuts. etc. was unacceptable … The local San Miguel Citizens Alliance group that was here when I came, spearheaded by Rick Silverman, had kind of dissolved over controversies with the ski area owners. Telluride was without an organized group to fight the Sheep Mountain Timber Sale. After discussions, Pamela Zoline and I decided to host a meeting to see if we could organize a group to fight the proposed sale. I sent out invitations and chaired our initial meeting. About 20 or so folks attended – I remember Jack, the fearless Helen Newell and her daughter, Zea Beaver, Rick, Pam and perhaps John Lifton, George Greenbank, Lito Tejada-Flores, Bob and Corinne Brickell, Lisa Foxwell and Paul Finley, Mary Ann Gaston, I think Phil and Linda Miller were there, Rob Allen, maybe Bernice Garber, Kathy Green, Salli Russell (?) – my memory gets hazier by the year … The name Sheep Mountain Alliance was chosen (although, ironically, Sheep Mountain isn’t in San Miguel County, or even the San Miguel River watershed). Another meeting was set for up on Sheep Mountain itself, and a lot more folks came, including Joan May, who would go on to become one of the executive directors of SMA … Jack was made president that first year, and I was vice-president. The darn thing was that we quickly won our battle with the Forest Service. After a couple months they threw in the towel – no doubt because they’d gotten nothing but grief from the public in Telluride and even down in Cortez, and so they cancelled the proposed timber sale … How often does a new enviro group win a campaign that quickly? … At first a number of members of the newly formed SMA wanted to call it quits and end the ad-hoc group. But I led a faction that pushed to have SMA join the Western Colorado Congress – a new regional citizen group formed out of the Colorado Plateau Rendezvous that George and I and others had been attending for several years up on Hastings Mesa. Joining WCC, our next battle was fighting a low-level radioactive dumpsite that (Dem.) Gov. Roy Romer wanted to use as a regional state facility, right across the river from Uravan and its federal remediation dumpsite. WCC and SMA teamed up to stop that ill-conceived project, and SMA had a second notch in its coup stick … The rest is history. And this past Sunday, a number of hardy SMA members braved fall winds, falling aspen leaves and intermittent snow flurries to hold a 25 year anniversary picnic up on Lizard Head Pass. Current Executive Director Hilary Cooper organized the shindig, the indefatigable Linda Miller and SMA’s current board members brought food and a lovely party was had by all in attendance – including a number of folks who bicycled up to the festivities, like true tree-huggers.

PROUD OF THE COUNTY … Reading about Ouray County’s budget shortfalls in the Watch is disheartening. It’s hard enough to provide services for growing populations, let alone having to deal with the Bust of 08 and the vagaries of a Tea Party shutdown and PILT (payment in lieu of taxes – the money the Feds sometimes give counties for all the federal land exempt from county property taxes – about two-thirds of the land base in San Miguel County, and if received, up to maybe a tenth of our general fund budget) … But at the same time, I’m immensely proud of San Miguel County Administrator Lynn Black, county staff and my fellow commissioners for planning ahead for the delayed effects of the real estate crash. Instead of facing huge budget shortfalls, we’ve built up a large reserve fund to ease our way into the downsizing that’s been underway in our organization for the last five years. Yes, we’ve pared down local government, offered voluntary layoffs, cut back on payroll, put off projects, ended our nonprofit grants, reduced expenses and have not always hired replacements for retiring employees. But we’ve tried to continue essential services so that the public hasn’t felt a lot of the pain citizens in other counties have experienced … At the same time, it’s just as disheartening to read about law enforcement scandals, like the misuse of public fund charges alleged against former Montezuma County Undersheriff Robin Crank in the Four Corners Free Press. It makes me proud of our County Sheriff Bill Masters and the excellent staff he supervises … It’s disturbing to read in the same paper about how Montezuma County Commissioners held a secret meeting without going into executive session, as the law requires, in investigating the Crank incident, prompting their county administrator to quit that same afternoon … And just as disturbing to read how Montrose County Commissioners changed their mind about a recent gravel pit decision, according to a Watch story, after leaving a public meeting to privately confer with staff – again without going into executive session, as the law requires … Because of our liberal philosophies on many issues, some folks see San Miguel County as a place without respect for the law. But if you look at the facts, and what’s happening around us, just the opposite is true. And I have to say, it’s what makes me so proud to be a public servant in this county.

IMPRISONED … Help! I am about to be incarcerated. I’m begging you to send me bail money … I know, this sounds like one of those Nigerian email scams one receives regularly on line. But it isn’t … The Western Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association is charging me with having a big heart, and asking San Miguel County citizens to help me make my bail. I’ll be “locked up” at their Maximum Appreciation Prison Site – the Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride on Nov. 6 at high noon. They’ve set the bar at $1,600 bail … Send contributions to me at Cloud Acre, P.O. Box 160, Norwood, CO 81423, so they’ll let me go a free man that afternoon … Recently I got a lovely letter from the Coppinger family of Grand Junction explaining how important the MDA is to their family. Please help us all out. For more info, call me on my new smartphone – 970/729-0220
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet