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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 26may50011

Looking at the shape of local roads

CHIP SEAL COMING SOON … No one likes delays, but thank the goddess CDOT is about to start resurfacing Norwood Hill after all the dings it took during and after last fall’s rockfall mitigation work. Scaling slope’s topknot brow – giving the hill a haircut, if you will -- and putting up wire mesh protected some dangerous spots. But, faithful to Murphy’s Law of Unintended Consequences, the work also unloosened a slow avalanche of unstabilized rock this spring  -- the hill shaking off loose locks, as it were … Boulders the size of Volkswagens now sit, scooped to the side of the road by our hard-working local road crews, squatting in the hillside toe ditch chock-a-block with fractured sandstone debris … Keep your eyes looking up, as well as ahead, when driving Norwood Hill.

DETERIORATING … State Highway 145 from Society Turn to Lizard Head Pass (except for a few short patches) is in terrible shape. It’s only marginally better on the Dolores Watershed side. One hopes there will be money for the state to fix things on this important tourist-access stretch of road, like the Town of Telluride has begun to do on the Spur (thank you, Stu & the Town Council).

VIRGINIA GOLDSWORTHY … I must have missed the obituary locally, but my friend Zea Beaver of Dolores emailed me a couple weeks ago: “We lost another of the old old-timers … Virginia Goldsworthy died in Denver ... She was the Social Services person in Telluride in the ‘70s and early ‘80s” … Zea goes on to recount how Virginia, and her husband Fred, took her into their home, so she could finish high school in Telluride when she was a young girl. That wasn’t uncommon in the old days -- one of the downsides of the rural Western change from one-room schoolhouses to consolidated industrial education sites (I almost said factories) … Would that we all may be remembered beyond our lives for just one act of kindness

FORT COLLINS … Dashing off, as I write this column, to Fort Collins for a workshop I’ve been invited to – Stepping Toward the Future: Marketing Environmental Services on Working Lands of the West … It’s part of my fellowship with Colorado State University’s Center for Collaborative Conservation, and the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) pilot project that I’m working with the San Miguel County Open Space Commission to set up for rare plants in our county … A few years ago we had Botanist Peggy Lyon of Ridgway inventory the county for rare plants on public lands. We have that report and it’s a good one. There are several species endemic to San Miguel County, and working with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, we have those locations listed and monitored. However, no such program exists for private lands. My fellowship was to work with landowners and the Colorado Cattleman’s Association to try and set up a program to pay ranchers and landowners to let us inventory for rare plants on private land. And, if found, to try and monitor them, giving the rancher/landowner some remuneration for giving us access to private property. PES, or paying folks for the ecological services they provide is a relatively new concept in the environmental protection toolbox … The workshop will get all of us involved in PES projects an opportunity to learn what’s being done in Colorado and around the country … In addition, I will be meeting with representatives from the Colorado Cattleman’s Association, as we try to mesh our ideas for the program with theirs.

ANASAZI SOLAR … Well, that item title may be a bit misleading. I attended a dedication at the BLM Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores a week or so ago for a 400-panel solar array in the center’s front yard. Working with Empire Electric Association, they’ve installed meters that feed back into the system, when the power isn’t being used for the center … New State BLM Director Helen Hankins was there, and in spite of losing my muffler in Slick Rock (I managed to rope it back on and drove another 600 miles before I was able to get it fixed – at Cortez Muffler – a wonderful place, fast, efficient and inexpensive – 501 S. Broadway), I managed to make the lunch on-time, and spend a bit of time talking with Helen and San Juan Supervisor/Director Mark Stiles (the Durango office is a Service First office – where the Forest Service and BLM line officers are combined) … Always good to know those folks on a first-name basis, in case we have need of contacting them.


The Bones of Words

I bury words
in my garden,
like a dog his bones.
Words like "deciduous"
I bury deep in the mud.

Deciduous, deep in the ground,
sprouting orchards of words.

I bury the word Mother
and grow a forest.

I bury the word Fire
in my garden,
and I can feel it
my naked feet.

I bury words
in my garden
all day long
and wait...
'til they are good and ripe
and ready to harvest.

-Valerie Haugen
Glenwood Springs

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