July 2012

Joan May a good choice for national committee

By Art Goodtimes

JOAN MAY … It has been a singular pleasure to work with Joan on the County Board of Commissioners. She is bright, fair, of the deepest integrity and understands the difference between good governance and campaign posturing. Turns out we locals are not the only ones to notice. She has just been appointed to a prestigious U.S. Forest Service National Advisory Committee for Implementation of the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule (Planning Rule FACA Committee) … Both as a National Association of Counties subcommittee chair and as a friend of several members of USFS leadership, I’ve been strongly advocating that the Forest Service utilize the kind of citizen advisory help that the Bureau of Land Management uses with their Resource Advisory Councils. It’s wonderful to see the agency do exactly that with the Planning Rule and doubly great to have a local political leader chosen for membership on the 21-person group … The Planning Rule FACA Committee will advise and give recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. … This is a feather in the cap of Colorado, San Miguel County as well as Joan herself. It’s wonderful to see her receiving national recognition for the fine leader she is.



I’ve climbed ten thousand
rafted the wild frothy waters
of a thousand rivers
I used to laugh at winter’s
frigid blasts
Do your worst, I’d bellow
into the storm
How could I ever have guessed
that one day I’d huddle
in front of the fire
in slippers and heavy robe
at the first hint of frost?

—Michael Adams

MARK FISCHER … It was great to join Elaine Fischer, my other talented colleague on the Board of County Commissioners, past winner and this year’s contest judge Kiersten Bridger and Telluride Arts in honoring the late Mark Fischer with our 14th Poetry Prize at the end of May. The Steaming Bean Coffeehouse hosted a great reading including local winners Elle Metrick of Norwood and Beth Paulson of Ouray, a Skype reading by a Colorado Springs winner, and the in-person word magic of firstplace winner Wayne Lee of Santa Fe.

ED QUILLEN … Ed died of a heart attack last month in Salida, where he and his wife and two daughters made their home over the last couple decades. A newspaper editor, founder of the monthly Colorado Central (still publishing), and a brilliantly witty rural columnist for the Denver Post, he cast a large shadow. His grasp of Colorado history was second to none. He successfully used humor to skewer right-wing ideas (and sometimes left-wing ones). He was uncompromising with the truth and unafraid to take positions at odds with many of his fellow citizens … For years he was one of the star speakers/participants in Western State College’s Headwaters Conference (the school is set to change its name to Western State Colorado University this summer). His hotel room, thick with cigarette smoke, was often the haven for long, late-night discussions on a wide-ranging assortment of topics. All of which Ed would expound on with unique perspectives and withering arguments … He and Martha were generous too. More than once they invited me to sleep at their home in Salida, and in spite of the haze (I detest cigarette smoke – having grown up with smoking parents) I would gather with others in fascination and awe around their kitchen table for more brilliant discussions … He’d cleaned up his act of late. Had stopped smoking (mirable dictu!). And begun to seriously exercise. But the hard-living life of a journalist with its deadlines, public debates and passionate opinions caught up with him … Colorado has a lost a great one. And many of us have lost a dear friend.

SHARON SHUTERAN … Telluride is still reeling from the sudden passing of a local icon – our good county judge. Her memorial last month drew a large crowd to the Palm as we all tried to deal with losing someone who was quintessential Telluride. From the government of Bhutan to words of friends and family and an elegant eulogy from Rick Silverman, it helped us face the loss of one who had married community involvement with judicial reserve, fairness with compassion … But, even with the ceremony, it’s still hard to believe we’ve lost her.

CLOUD ACRE SPUDS … Finished up my spud patch this spring. Took me a month to prep the ground and plant some 50+ varieties of potato (59 varieties, by my count, and some 208 mounds). Part of what makes the process timeconsuming is keeping accurate records of what was planted where – alternating colors so it’s less likely to mistake varieties in the fall harvest. I plant 3-4 seed potatoes for each variety, and usually keep 4 tubers of each kind for my own seed plantings. I store some for my own food, and the rest is what I sell or trade. Some varieties have been cloned and adapted for the past 15 years at my place (with an aberrant year growing in California, while I was taking hospice care of my dad) … This year I had seed potatoes available at the Norwood Home & Garden Show and Norwood’s first Farmer’s Market. Next year I hope to have full line of unusual varieties to offer folks in the region.

UNCOMPAHGRE PARTNERS … That’s the new name for the Uncompahgre Project – a spinoff of the Public Land Partnership meetings of years ago. But UP has grown and flourished while PLP seems to have faded to a shadow of its old self. I always liked to call PLP a table of trust, and it’s where a lot of us in the region learned to trust each other – regardless of our different perspectives, values and beliefs. But maintaining a “discussion group” is hard, while focusing around real projects keeps people involved … Last month I visited one of the many projects that UP has been involved with. Well, actually, I was invited by Dr. Dan Binkley and Dr. Bill Romme – two professors who’ve been extremely helpful with the Burn Canyon Project and so many other forest health initiatives in this region. They stopped by Cloud Acre for a brief visit, and suggested Gorio and I come join a field-trip barbeque UP was hosting at the 25 Mile Mesa Ranger Cabin. Bill even drew me a detailed map … So, Gorio and I drove over the plateau and down the Delta-Nucla Road to the site last Friday (after a brief high-centering of my backcountry-unfit Honda Civic and a rescue by the good Jim Free) … Besides visiting with lots of old friends who’ve been involved in public-land issues for the last couple decades, including Andrea Robinsong, Colleen Trout and Leigh Robertson, I learned what the volunteer crew of 40-50 folks were up to. It’s what they called “forensic forestry”. They are measuring old stumps and downed logs and, by various methods, determining the size and age of these ancient giants, and how they were distributed over the landscape. Bill and Dan want to get a handle on what pre-settlement conditions were like several hundred years ago. It’s hard to bring a forest back to a healthy condition, unless you know what things were like before the agencies started preventing all fires – which served to increase forest density and its vulnerability to disastrous crown fires, especially among ponderosa pine … That UP was sponsoring the work was telling. It’s become a focal point for many wonderful collaborative projects in the region. Check out their website on-line and consider getting involved: www.upproject.org/

STONE BELLY … Had a great time visiting with my friend and mountain bard from the Front Range, Michael Adams. We traded poem performances at Two Candles in Norwood. Hiked up Dolores Peak from Woods Lake, tracked an intermittent stream in Busted Arm Draw, and scoured the rim of the San Miguel Canyon ACEC (BLM’s Area of Critical Environmental Concern), keeping an eye out for mountain lion … Check this month’s Talking Gourd with one of Mike’s workings from Han Shan’s Cold Mountain poems – a kind of conversation between the ancient sage and a cancer survivor. The kind Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer has with Rumi in her latest book. Mike’s book is If You Can Still Dance With It: Stone Belly & Cold Mountain (Turkey Buzzard Press, Colorado, 2012). Highly recommended.

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