State punishes counties for OHV safety rules
By Art Goodtimes
COUNTY REGS "INCONSISENT WITH STATE LAW" … For the last halfdozen years three mountain counties have teamed up to set minimum health and safety rules on county alpine roads and Jeep trails in the spectacular San Juan Mountains. The State Legislature had granted counties the right to open county roads to OHV use, or not. While San Miguel was less dependent on motorized recreation in the high country than its neighbors, it joined forces with Hinsdale and San Juan counties in requiring driver’s licenses and insurance on all their OHV-authorized county roads – thanks to several collaborative summits called by Commissioner Pete McKay of Silverton. Two rangers were hired. Mostly as an educational presence and as emergency patrols. One for the Alpine Loop of San Juan and Hinsdale, and another for San Miguel County’s Black Bear and Tomboy roads. San Juan and Hinsdale footed the bill for their Alpine Loop Ranger. San Miguel paid most of the bill for its Alpine Ranger. A fourth county, Ouray, which requires insurance but not a driver’s license for OHV drivers on county roads, paid a small bit of the Alpine Ranger program … Few tickets were given, but lots of contacts. Local OHV groups were vocal in their support – previously the San Miguel County alpine zone had been technically closed to OHV traffic … County funding was fine when budgets were fat, but the Bust of ’08 had (and still has) publicly funded districts and county governments reeling … Shortly after, it was a citizen initiative, I believe, that forced the State Parks agency (now combined into Parks & Wildlife under the Natural Resources Department of Gov. Hickenlooper) to open up the OHV grant fund to support law enforcement and restoration cleanups, as well as creating new OHV trails and maintaining old ones. The fund’s money comes from the OHV registrations that Parks (& now Wildlife) collects … For three years San Juan, Hinsdale and San Miguel have been writing grants and getting turned down, appealing to the Parks & Wildlife Commission, meeting with agency officials, but getting nowhere. Not a cent for alpine rangers in the San Juans. San Juan County has had to scramble and cobble together funding from multiple partners, including OHV user groups and enviros. San Miguel County is trying to figure out if it can afford to continue a program many of its citizens disapprove of … Finally, just last month, two OHV drivers under 16 were killed while operating their OHVs on San Juan and Ouray County roads … County rangers enforcing county rules on alpine roads for OHVs seems like just plain common sense. But nothing’s ever that sensible in the Front Range convolutions of state government, far from the reasonable eyes of rural commissioners … Instead, Parks & Wildlife keeps refusing to fund the Alpine Loop Ranger or the Alpine Ranger. Our flaw? Protecting the health, safety and welfare of our youngest citizens … No wonder some counties in Colorado are clamoring to secede.
THE TALKING GOURD
Buried in our sleeping bags
A dream stirs him
Early dawn light.
Shedding my sleeping bag,
I’m the only one awake.
Gorio still fast asleep
Out the window
— Michael Adams
NUPTIALS … My partner in politics, Wally White, one of a trio of Western Slope liberals that Gov. Ritter named the “Ponytail Caucus,” got knocked out of office by term limits down in La Plata County last year. And so what does an old hippie outlaw Boss Daddy do when he retires at 60? He gets married … To a lovely Durango woman, Laura Godfrey, whose attending cousin (as serendipity dictates) was the CSU grad student whom Dr. Joshua Goldstein got to co-write my Fellowship Paper on San Miguel County’s Payment for Ecosystem Services project – Shayna Brause … Wedding and reception were at the Community Center in Silverton.
SURPLUS EYES … Norwood made national news (surprise!) in the Sept. 20 issue of The Week (“All You Need To Know About Everything That Matters”) in their “Best properties on the market” section where #7 was Steve Cieciuch’s listing for The Valentine Farm: 120 acres featuring a remodeled Red Barn mansion with “10-stall equestrian center and three ponds” ($4,375,000) … Not exactly a price to snore at.
YELP … Got to take a road trip two months ago with my two sons, Rio (26) and Gorio (15). Up to Walla Walla to support my daughter Sara (18) entering Whitman College. What a treat. Especially as Gorio had just got his driving permit, and was eager to take the wheel. It meant I got to relax, write, read, catch up on emails on the long journey – something I haven’t been able to do for the last 40 years of road trips. Seems like I’ve been the primary driver for all our various permutations of family … The boys and I camped in forests along the way, once we’d escaped the downpours of the San Juans (welcome as they have been) … Of course, road trips mean eating out a lot. And that’s usually a hit-and-miss proposition. … But with smart phones, that’s all changed. Rio checked his Yelp app and found some amazing eateries. A few:
TWIN FALLS (ID) … High Country Bakehouse on South Main Avenue … Delicious food, great service, very reasonably priced, gluten-free bread, and great java in the adjoining coffeehouse … Highly recommended.
WALLA WALLA (WA) … Clarette’s Restaurant on Touchet Street is THE place for a Whitman College breakfast. Great food (best bacon I’ve had in years). Real spuds. Terrific service … Highly recommended.
BOISE (ID) … Shangri-La Tea Room & Vegetarian Restaurant on Overland Road … The Mango Bubble Tea was to die for … The boys shared a veggie burger they both pronounced delicious… Huge choice of teas, great service, peaceful ambiance, lovely décor … Highly recommended.
PRICE (UT) … This time I did the yelping, but not on any machine … Bless me, Father Organico, for I have sinned. I was outvoted. We were in a hurry. We ate at Mc- Donald’s. The chicken wrap was awful … Four Hail Marys and a novena … Never recommended.
Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.