December 2014

Cortez shuts down its presses

By Art Goodtimes

Linda and Doug Funk run the quintessential
small-town newspaper. And one of the features
of their second page is a column called
“Front Page News from other communities”
… News items from Telluride used
to appear there, since its Egnar readers hail
from San Miguel County. But lately it’s been
mostly towns to the southwest (Monticello)
and southeast (Cortez & Dolores) … I check
the writeups regularly, since a hint of editorial
slant creeps into the summaries of headline
stories. And I often find them amusing
plus I learn something like in this item from
the Cortez Journal … “Cortez Newspapers
print shop, which has been printing the Durango
Herald for several years and the Dove
Creek Press for at least 40 years, announced
plans to transfer work to Farmington. They
were proud that fewer than 25 people would
lose their jobs” … The irony of the last
line is devastating. In small towns all over
the west, 25 jobs is a lot of households, a
lot of affected people … But even more
poignant for me personally is the end of a
long tradition. When I came to Telluride and
wrangled my way onto the staff of the local
newspaper that Rudy Davison had sold to
Scott Brown, the Telluride Times was printed
in Cortez. As low man on the totem pole of
employment, which numbered just a handful
(plus a big stable of freelancers), my duties
were not only writing copy but bringing the
flats down to Cortez to be printed. Often
it meant braving howling winter winds and
drifting snow on Lizard Head Pass. Once I
was the last vehicle over the pass before they
closed it. Another time I took a nap by the
side of the road and the anxious publisher
called the Montezuma County sheriff to
make sure I hadn’t disappeared en route. I’d
bring these broadsheet flats down to Larry
at the big rolling presses, and they’d work
their obsolescent magic into print. The ink
smell was intoxicating and toxic. But there
was romance when the giant machines were
working, rolling off issue after issue … The
next morning, after a night in a local motel,
I’d pick up the newspaper copies, stack them
into the back of the publisher’s car, and hightail
it back to Telluride … Of course, that
changed to computers within a few years,
and instead of waxed flats, the copy would
be sent electronically and someone only had
to do pickup, not delivery. And I changed
from Clark Kent to Ass. Ed (back when it
was Beer and Goodtimes). And then, in ’89,
I switched papers and helped the late Jim
Davidson found the San Miguel Journal.


Found poem

Gian blinking

Go right!

— JB Bryan
Albuquerque, N.M. .

RADICAL CENTER … I like to call it
the “radical middle” -- the kind of Green
politics I practice -- not to the far left of an
issue, but right in the middle of the muddle,
where compromise leads to action. Quivira,
the Santa Fe-based coalition dedicated to
narrowing the widening gap between agriculture
and environmentalism, prefers the
“radical center.” Wherever you situate it,
Quivira is an attempt to bring right and left,
rancher and enviro, family farms and the
organic movement into the same room and
the same discussions. Already, its founder,
Courtney White, has come to Telluride and
Norwood to speak of his concept of the carbon
ranch and how to capitalize on the fact
that carbon is being sequestered in the soil
of family farms and ranches, and could be
increased with innovative ranching practices
… That insight, in turn, has spawned a project
I’ve been working on for the last several
years, after hearing Sally Collins (then with
the USDA) speak about Payment for Ecosysterm
Services and how this new environmental
tool (PES) was being utilized around
the world. While serving a year as a Fellow
with the Center for Collaborative Conservation
at CSU’s Fort Collins campus, I worked
with Linda Luther of the San Miguel County
Open Space & Recreation Department to
develop and model a pilot PES program
involving rare native plants. Now we’d like
to move on to even bigger PES projects --
with weeds, with streamside restoration to
increase Gunnison aage grouse habitat, and
with White’s carbon ranch idea … My dream
follows along the latter
path. What if we could
figure out a way to lessen
the carbon footprint
impacts of the East End
of San Miguel County
and its industrial tourism
economy by offsetting
that production with the
West End’s documented
reduction in carbon associated
with livestock
production and organic
farming. I’m hoping the
County could jumpstart
this process with a PES
project. And the mechanism might be a voluntary
offset program. Or carbon tax credits
(since a local carbon tax was discussed
at a recent Intergovernmental Group meeting)
… Imagine if there was some way to
achieve our carbon reduction goals in San
Miguel County by moving money from the
wealthy East End to the wealth-challenged
West End for verified and monitored carbon
sequestering … That’s why I needed to attend
Quivira’s Albuquerque conference last
month, “Back to the Future: Celebrating the
International Year of Family Farming and
Ranching.” I wanted to find out how to measure
carbon sequestered in ag soil, and get
some feedback on pulling off a PES project
like this.

PETER DONOVAN … Found just the
person to help the county learn how to test
for soil carbon. He works for a non-profit,
Soil Carbon Challenge whose premises are:
1) It is possible to build carbon-rich, water-holding
soil organic matter by working with
the natural processes of photosynthesis
and decay; and 2) Change in soil carbon can
be measured affordably and accurately via
small, fixed plots. His website is <soilcarboncoalition.
org> … When we talked, he
agreed to consider coming up in the spring
and speaking to our community. In order
for a PES project to work, we have to be
able to quantify a baseline level of soil being
sequestered on local ranches. And Peter
appears to be just the scientist able to teach
us how to do it.

LANDOWNERS … I’d met Lesli Allison
at a previous Quivira Coalition meeting
where I’d given a talk that was well received
at the conference. She’d worked as
a ranch manager for a large private spread
in Chromo that was interested in ecological
health of the land as well
as production values. We
met over lunch the last
day of the conference.
Now she was heading up
the non-profit Western
Landowners Alliance,
and was very interested
when I explained the
project we wanted to try
to do … She promises to
be an ally to help us put
some meat on the bone
of the idea … All in all,
looking back, it was a
very successful conference
for our future county PES project.

“Damn politicians. We ought to take them
out and shoot ‘em.” Two cowboy-booted locals
in the Happy Belly Deli, within earshot
of my table last month … Except, I thought,
the ones you like. Those that keep your faith.
The ones you keep voting back into office in
our conservative neck of the Western Slope
woods – Tipton, Coram. Roberts … From
the media it seems the level of verbal intolerance
for the “other side” is rising in the
democratic experiment we call America …
But maybe Steven Pinker is also right. The
amount of actual violence personally experienced
by citizens of many countries, not just
ours, has declined. Whatever the reality, rural
rhetoric in the U.S. isn’t exactly at peace with
non-violent solutions.

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