October 2009

Good friends in high places

By Art Goodtimes

HARRIS SHERMAN … It’s hard to believe that two of San Miguel County’s long-standing political friends are now (together!) in D.C. – Ken Salazar, who heads up Interior (and thus BLM) and Harris, who got nominated by President Obama as Undersecretary of Agriculture in charge of Natural Resources and Environment (and thus the Forest Service) … Sherman, as you may recall, was the lead Arnold & Porter attorney regarding the state Public Utility Commission reversal of a San Miguel County permitting decision that led to a citizen homeowner lawsuit the county joined in on against Tri-State (and only recently settled). It was in the midst of that case that Gov. Ritter tapped Harris to head up the Department of Natural Resources (DOW, State Land Board, Oil & Gas Conservation Commission and more) – a position that he’d held back in the early 1980s under Gov. Dick Lamm … And it’s Sherman who fearlessly carried out Ritter’s announced revision of the Oil & Gas regs that so infuriated the industry – even though many of us greenies felt he’d probably bent over backwards being fair to all parties. He replaces President Bush’s slash & burn undersecretary, Mark Rey, a former timber industry D.C. lobbyist that the Native Forest Network labeled eight years ago as “the fox in the henhouse” … So, what’s so special about having Coloradans (and specifically political allies and friends) over BLM and the Forest Service? If there’s one state and national issue I’ve focused on in my 13 years in local public service, it’s been public lands. Why? Because about 65 percent of the land base in San Miguel County is controlled by the Feds or the State (e.g., no property-tax revenue). Working with federal agencies is critical to protecting the environment of our county and preserving its economic vitality … It’s nice to know that now, after 13 years of often-hostile federal appointees, we have good friends at the top.

THE TALKING GOURD

Heading Up to Junction

the La Sals play peekaboo
in a blue break
through the rupture of a storm
roiling over the Uncompahgre
Plateau

wave to Bill Wilson
plowing the Cone Road
a slush spray
fans the snowbanks

roads snowpacked & icy
Hwy 145 into Montrose
dusted with cinders
on the curves & canyons

Nucla Station’s plume
voluminous
this chill morn
tail end of the dragon

COLLABORATVE CONSERVATION Colorado State University’s Center for Collaborative Conservation sponsored the Bridging the Gap colloquium in Fort Collins last month. I got to make a presentation about the Burn Canyon Salvage Timber Sale Community Monitoring Project that Telluride’s Phil and Linda Miller played such a huge part in establishing. And they also tapped me for a final conference wrap-up panel on Friday morning … Gary Nabhan gave the opening address on Tuesday. And the next two days were jammed with talks and concurrent workshops on all aspects of collaborative conservation … So what is this new buzzword, you ask? Nils Christoffersen, executive director of the Oregon-based Wallowa Resources, gave a flip but not inaccurate definition of collaborative conservation – “an unnatural act between unconsenting adults.” Or as one county commissioner put it, “I hate collaboration, but I think it’s the only way forward.” In truth, collaborative conservation is working in partnership with all stakeholders, even one’s adversaries, in order to protect natural resources, foster resilient thinking (aka sustainability) and meet the “triple bottom line” of economy, society and environment … Four days of travel, connections, visits with old friends, networking, new ideas, deepened understandings, and even possible future projects …Ever hear of PES? It stands for payment for ecosystem services, and it’s the exciting new tool to reward good stewards of private land with income for protecting habitat, providing clean water, and supporting rare and endangered species. Instead of hitting ranchers and farmers with more regs to limit their already-constrained operations, PES helps pay the mortgage for doing the right thing. It’s a land-management tool that’s been used for a decade in Costa Rica, and is just now coming to be considered for use in the U.S.

HOLY MACHISMO? … Driving back from Fort Collins, I spy a shiny new Toyota SUV whizzing by me on I-70, a rosary dangling from the rear-view mirror, and a bumper sticker that reads, “I’ll keep my guns, freedom and money, and you can have ‘the change’.”

ENTHEOGENETICS … Cannabinoids methanandamide and JWH-015 stop prostate-cancer cell growth in vitro, according to a recent paper in the British Journal of Cancer. Cannabinoids are a unique group of secondary metabolites found in the cannabis plant, which are responsible for the plant's peculiar pharmacological effects, and which occur naturally in the nervous and immune systems of animals. In lab studies, methanandamide and JWH-15 reduce the size of prostate tumors in mice. These cannabinoids are believed to block CB2 receptors on the surface of cancerous cells … According to a study published this year in the journal Cell Metabolism, cannabis use reduces bone density in young adults, but in seniors it prevents bone loss as well as fat accumulation in bones, thus countering osteoporosis. Smoking dried plant material apparently activates the Type 1 cannabinoid receptor in bone tissue, thus impacting bone regeneration.

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.