April 2016

Working collaboratively on forest health

By Art Goodtimes

CFLRP … The Uncompahgre Plateau’s Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project held its annual stakeholder meeting in Montrose last month. Since San Miguel County has a stake in the USFS-driven initiative, I got to attend — the only elected official in a roomful of CSU scientists and Forest Service line officers and field workers … The most recent phase of the county’s Burn Canyon Monitoring Task Force project was funded through this group three years ago. Another scan of the Burn Canyon longitudinal study — set up to indicate whether salvage logging negatively, positively or neutrally affects forest regeneration — is slated for next year. Linda and the late Phil Miller of Telluride worked tirelessly to get the original Burn Canyon citizen science project off the ground … It was encouraging to hear Tony Cheng of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute cite the influence of our pioneering Western Slope collaborative — the Public Lands Partnership, of which San Miguel County is a contributing member — as one of the reasons the Uncompahgre Plateau CFLRP was formed and has been successful nationally in bringing special grant treatment dollars to our local forest … And while impressed by all the presentations, it was Bill Romme’s aspen browse study that knocked my socks off … Contrary to long-accepted forest dogma, browsing cattle, deer and elk don’t appear to have significant impacts on aspen regeneration, except perhaps locally. In fact, according to Romme, it would appear that average annual difference across the forest between unbrowsed and browsed aspen seedlings was just over a foot change in growth. And that was mostly from deer and elk. Cattle had relatively little impact … However, local conditions were a large influence, and Romme tempered his findings by explaining that site-specific factors had to be taken into consideration, as completely opposite results were seen in different parts of the forest.

THE TALKING GOURD

They brought bulldozers
We brought the Volkswagen bus
A land of machines

Rio Coyotl
Wright's Mesa

BERTA CÁCERES … The assassination of this indigenous environmental leader in Honduras last month has precipitated international outrage … Josh Nichols and Leila Serafin of Norwood both worked with Cáceres, protesting a disastrous dam project on native lands in that Central American country. They were in shock at the murder of their friend … Since the military coup that ousted the rightist-turned-leftist Manuel Zelaya-Rosales from the presidency, violence in Honduras has escalated precipitously. According to The Guardian (British), “Human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, trade unionists, gay rights activists and political opponents of subsequent regimes have been singled out for abduction, disappearance, torture and murder in a climate of almost complete impunity” … Women particularly have been targeted. In 2014, 513 women were killed and in 2015 it was estimated that a woman lost her life every 16 hours in Honduras ... Cáceres founded the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras and last year was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize. In her acceptance speech, she appeared to foreshadow her own death when she noted that “giving our lives in various ways for the protection of rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet” … International Rivers and other groups have called for foreign investors and engineering companies to withdraw from the Agua Zarca hydropower project that Cáceres had been opposing at the time of her murder.

LAKE CITY … I don’t get to go there much. It was a favorite of the Club 20 folks when I belonged to that oil&gas booster group back at the turn of the millennium. It’s spectacular country, and the county courthouse is a gem … I got to know Commissioner Flynn Mangum, along with his cohorts Linda Matthews and Allen Brown, at CCI – the infamous Colorado Counties, Inc. There we found ourselves on the same side of the great divide between the Front Range & the Western Slope. Rural v. City. Water v. Thirst. Handshakes v. Contracts … I counted all three of those folks as friends. Flynn had a gregarious smile and liked to make us laugh. … Flynn. Who passed away, suddenly, last month. A great fellow … Lake City’s loss, and ours too.

LARK & SPARROW … I love this new Montrose jazz club … Recently I got to catch Aspen-based jazz vocalist and Argentine porteña Josefina Méndez. Her big voice with its syncopated wizardry was backed up by the red-hot saxophone of Mark Johnson, understated piano whiz Tim Fox, and a couple local stand-ins. Méndez belted out some real showstoppers, all the more amazing since she was 8 months pregnant. Check out josefinamendez.com and her new album, “Todo Llega” … And check out the schedule at the Lark&Sparrow. Highly recommended.

PAGOSA SPRINGS SUN … One of the smaller regional newspapers made national press in The Week’s “Wit & Wisdom” column in February, with a quote from the late Robin Williams: “Music is God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in the universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.”

KEN SALAZAR … Over in Colorado Springs recently, got to pick up a copy of the Colorado Springs Independent – a bastion of liberal politics in a pretty reactionary region. Was especially interested to read Ralph Routon’s column, “Between the Lines,” in the March 16-22 issue. He quotes sources suggesting that former state attorney general, Colorado Senator and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is on the short list for Hillary Clinton’s vice-president … As Routon notes, “What’s not to like Salazar as VP? For starters, he’s as spotless as politicians come – and qualified. He’s spent much time in D.C. and, more importantly, he’s served alongside Hillary Clinton as a fellow Democrat in the Senate and then inside the much tighter circle of the [Obama] Cabinet” …

Art Goodtimes is a five-term county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.