July 2016
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If there were courage

By Art Goodtimes

DAVID GLYNN … Some of you folks may have met this former mayor of Ophir, who excelled as a wildlife painter, tile-setter, and skier – a man to match these mountains … Next to family, horses were his deepest love. He was especially passionate about the Spring Creek wild horse herd out in San Miguel County’s West End. He lobbied the county, bedeviled the BLM, protested roundups, wrote angry letters and made saving wild horses his mission … Not content with activism alone, David realized he was going to have to galvanize the public, if the battle to stop the Feds from removing wild horses from the range had any chance to succeed. So he started writing a novel … Now, as a life-long writer, I’m always a bit suspicious when newbies (especially activists) set out to write about a cause they believe in. I expect a disaster. But David proved us wrong. Though, sadly, he died just as he was finishing the book.



— for Elaine

She came to town a Cantor
& at her grave looking south

to Bear Creek the good rabbi
urged us all to sing her

back into the mystery he
called God, as hummingbirds

whirred above us & the words
of our voices dropped like dirt

on her last holy home, here
deep in the San Juans of our heart

IF THERE WERE COURAGE … is a marvelous tale of heroics and deceit, greed and valor, the wild and spirit tamed. It’s the unlikely duo of a female BLM LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) and a Native American horse-lover hero who team up to outwit a federal plan to secretly eliminate the Spring Creek wild horse herd. The BLM’s periodic culling of the wild herds has been done many times over the years ever since the wild horses were accorded minimal protections by Congress from those who advocate for outright elimination … But the book is no shadow play of good and bad. Minor characters are well fleshed out. And they change as the book tracks the 24-day saga of ecotage, flash floods, helicopter roundups, plotting, counter-plotting and a tempestuous love story – of man and woman, horse and human … Even the mustangs have idiosyncratic personalities. And the detail of the vast sagebrush flats of Disappointment Valley come alive as we sit in conversation at campfires, on lookouts, sometimes hard-riding, other times sneaking through the rabbitbrush … One can easily imagine a movie in tense scenes where plots are hatched, derailed, remade, uncovered, and ultimately thwarted. Bad guys become good guys. Good guys show mis-judgment, failings. It’s as exciting an intertwined modern saga as any film drama I’ve seen in a while – wild horses against helicopters, an Indian lone ranger against the federales, a gung-ho greenhorn FBI agent against a local LEO on a mission. All set in some of the most starkly beautiful wild lands in the nation … I have to confess. I loved the book. I couldn’t put it down. The story lasso’d me right in, and dragged me the length of the Dolores. I was sitting on the edge of an arroyo right up until the end.

ELAINE FISCHER … All of Telluride mourned the passing of this longtime politico, mayor and sitting county commissioner, who succumbed to cancer shortly after resigning from office. There was a large community gathering to celebrate her life at the end of May … The San Miguel County Democratic Central Committee voted in Fischer’s choice for her replacement as county commissioner to serve out the rest of this year — Amy Levek, who is a seasoned Telluride local with experience as former town mayor and known for her long-time community involvement.

DOLORES RIVER … I enjoyed the Tamarisk Coalition’s Plant ID morning at Bedrock last month. I had to high-tail it home for multiple tasking about halfway through the workshop, but the BLM’s Amanda Clements did a great job pointing out exotics and natives – particularly grasses, a difficult group to identify … Judy Pentz regaled us with Paradox historical tales. She’s from the Rimrocker Historical Society, and has a knack for spinning local legend with wit and panache … One big surprise was to learn that Russian olive trees [Eleagnus angustifolia] are nitrogen fixers. Considered an invasive weed by many, it was unexpected by me that the tree may actually have a significant ecological benefit to the surrounding soil. In fact, it is one of the most efficient of local nitrogen-fixing species, on the order of 160 pounds or more of nitrogen per acre, according to the USDA Plant Database. BLM … It appears my least favorite federal agency these days has been up to some real shenanigans … State director Ruth Welch has decided to move San Juan County out of the Tres Rios Field Office in Durango and into the Gunnison Field Office -- without any consultation with county officials. But even more importantly, San Juan County would move from the BLM’s Montrose District Office to the Cañon City District Office. As Commissioner Pete McKay noted, “This would remove us from our local Southwest region where we have been for decade and place us in a distant district with no real connections to our Western Slope geography or watershed” … If that sounds bad enough, once again Colorado’s BLM has made this decision without any notification, consultation or cooperation with those involved. “This plan has been prepared without any transparency,” complained McKay. “When we eventually heard about it, we were told it was an ‘internal matter’ and in fact it was already a ‘done deal’” … It is exactly this kind of peremptory and uncollaborative decision-making by federal agencies that feed the fires of the movement to turn public lands over to the states. Shame on the BLM!

BLONDIES … West End fast food has gone upscale as Naturita’s quintessential mom&pop burger&fry roadstop just got a major face-lift. Looking nice.

MURAL … If you haven’t seen the colorful Naturita Middle School mural cross the street from the relocated Uranium Drive-In sign, then you’re in for a treat. It’s a great example of public art that uplifts and builds a positive image.

WILD WEST END … This item appeared in the Dove Creek Press column “Front Page News” from other communities based on a story in the San Miguel Basin Forum : “An eyewitness told the newspaper [Forum] that a Montrose County deputy tried to stop a fight in which a father and his son were pounding on a third party. The officer tased the two and they turned their attention to the deputy. The witness said that the fire chief came along and peeled the two off the deputy. The unidentified deputy was transported to the hospital in an ambulance.”

DOVE CREEK PRESS … Speaking of the Dolores County paper of record, it’s up for sale. Doug and Linda Funk are looking for buyers … Want to purchase ink by the barrel? Have your own bully pulpit? … Contact Linda and Doug at press81324@gmail.com for a copy of what is being offered, including prices and limited details.

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

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