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Sunday, March 3, 2013

UBC1013 ... Catching Up on Our Neighbors to the South

DOVE CREEK PRESS … Living in the upper watershed of the San Miguel River, our newspapers have a very hip upscale look separating us from this more traditional rural weekly. And the prevailing community attitudes and op-ed spins are often diametrically opposed … I’ve written about Linda and Doug Funk’s DoveCreek Press. The newspaper serves the county seat of Dolores County, our neighbor to the southwest (Rico having once been the county seat, until dryland farmers and uranium miners wrested it away from hard rock mining-camp-gone-bust holdouts back in the Fifties). Folks over in San Juan County, Utah (Blanding and Monticello) read it. The Press also serves as local news organ for San Miguel County’s far West End: Egnar, Slick Rock, Disappointment Valley -- all of it located in the Dolores River watershed and San Miguel County Commissioner District #3 … I subscribe. It helps keep me in touch with all the different perspectives that make up citizen views in my bifurcated constituency. And last week’s issue couldn’t have showcased those differences more.
Gunnison Sage Grouse

SAGE GROUSE LISTING … Usually sporting a local snapshot of some rural landscape scene, the Funks’ front page for Feb. 21st featured a color (rare) map of proposed U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s Gunnison Sage Grouse Critical Habitat – both occupied (40,000 acres) and potential (108,000 acres). The front page headline, below the fold, told the story: “County hires experts to fight sage grouse designation as endangered” … Dr. Rob Ramey was granted a $6,000 contract to help oppose listing, and “a GPS company” $5,000. Here’s some direct quotes from Doug Funk’s article … Commissioners lamented over the fact that Dove Creek/Monticello has few birds but a huge area of critical habitat… [County Attorney Dennis] Golbricht said he talked to a big wig in Kinder Morgan and was told that if sage grouse are designated endangered, drilling in Dolores County will cease“Without oil and gas and farming, we’re done,” said [Commission Chair Doug] Stowe …As I understand it, some sixty percent of Dolores County revenue comes from oil & gas extraction. Depending on how the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service meshes with local farmers and how much truth there is in Golbricht’s rumor, listing could shut things down in Dolores County worse than the Bush-era Banking Collapse … In the Letters to the Editor section, Corinne Roring of San Juan County (UT) explains how her family has for years tried to protect the grouse, never killing them, and how they’ve worked with Utah Fish & Game to transform their windmill into a solar bird watering facility. But she believes, like many farmers and ranchers, that predation is the root cause of grouse declines. Roring writes, “It is a losing battle if the Fish and Game does not manage the predators, especially the raptors, with eagles at the top of the list.”

SHERIFF’S PERSPECTIVE … An occasional columnist, Dolores County Sheriff Jerry Martin weighs in, later in the paper, on gun control … “I am sure the potential terrorists will only show up with weapons and ammunition clips allowed under the new law. This makes about as much sense as buying a guard dog and then having his teeth extracted”“Chicago and Washington D.C. have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation and also lead the nation in homicides. Is there a lesson to be learned here?”“I support the recent decision by the school board to designate select school employees as school source and protection employees and will work closely with them to see that they are trained and able to respond.”

FRONT PAGE NEWS … One of my favorite regular features (along with Doug Funk’s own rural life column, Phunque’s Desk) is this summary of regional stories from newspapers in other communities. Telluride doesn’t make it very often, but the Cortez Journal, Dolores Star, San Miguel Basin Forum, Pine River Times (Bayfield), the Palisade Tribune, and the San Juan Record (Monticello) are all regulars … Here’s the Funks’ take on a Record story: … “Sally Jewell has been nominated to replace Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. San Juan County residents fear she may be in favor of more National Monument designations.”

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