“We’re going to discuss a lot of things,” says Hilary White, newly appointed executive director of the more than 400-member organization.
At the top of the list is a bid to amend SMA bylaws so that seven members, instead of the current nine, sit on the board.
“Now that this whole Valley Floor thing is over,” White says, referring to the Town of Telluride’s success in raising the $50 million-plus needed to buy the Valley Floor from longtime owner Neal Blue, CEO of General Atomics, the nuclear physics and defense contractor headquartered in La Jolla, Calif., “we have to look at some other issues.”
Those issues range from the upcoming Citizens Wilderness Proposal for roadless-area designations to “oil and gas stuff, issues with the roads and mag chloride and paving, the sage grouse issue and the prairie dogs issue,” says White.
There will be a short presentation on these projects and more at Tuesday’s meeting.
Another project on SMA’s plate, White says, is “working together with this new community coalition” under the auspices of Regional Sustainability Coordinator Kris Holstrom, with a focus on “carbon reduction and climate change.”
Not unrelated to her firm commitment to growing and empowering SMA, White says, is her continued role with the Valley Floor Preservation Partners.
“I’ve been out there a lot” on the Valley Floor, she says, and earlier this week walked the 570-acre acre property with wetlands expert David Cooper, Ph.D., and Telluride Ski and Golf Co. Director of Environmental Projects Chris Hazen, discussing plans to “reroute the trail, as soon as possible,” in the area where Prospect Creek comes down, with an eye as well to increasing water levels.
As for the Valley Cows, White says, they’re now part of Telluride history, because of “the whole thing about grazing and the damage it causes.” As for a recent flurry of letters to the editor to The Watch complaining about dogs on the Valley Floor, she says: “I’ve been out there a lot, and yesterday was the first time I ever saw two dogs running around out there.” For the most part, she says, “people are respectful of” the no-dogs rule on the Valley Floor, mostly due to the problems dog feces pose for the watershed. VFPP is working with the Telluride Town Council to ratchet up public awareness of the dog problem, “to get more pro-active with information and signage,” and on “stewardship and management plans” for the Valley Floor, including the hiring of a Valley Floor Ranger.
This week’s Valley Floor Cleanup Day, organized by Alpine Bank, resulted in “two huge truckloads of stuff” being carried away, White reports.
The Town of Telluride, SMA and VFPP are united, emphasizes White, a former Telluride Town Councilmember, in getting the word out that “we want to provide an ear for people to express their desire for stewardship and future vision” for the Valley Floor, and to “get beyond the Valley Floor issue” as well, delivering the lessons of stewardship and land management as they develop.
Dinner at Tuesday’s SMA meeting will be catered by Cocina de Luz ($15 per person) and free beer will be served.