UP BEAR CREEK
Trying to Gauge Forest Conditions Pre-Settlement
by Art Goodtimes
Jun 21, 2012 | 1600 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

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 week 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. 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 week’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.

 

AFFIRMATION DAY … Constituents have asked me how I feel about the proposal by some Nucla folks to celebrate the Constitution with a new holiday. Certainly, we have lots of reasons to celebrate the U.S. Constitution that’s given this country’s people so many freedoms and such prosperity over the last 200 years … It’s probably also a good idea to reflect on the things that our Founding Fathers got right and the things they didn’t. We’ve come a long way from restricting the right to vote to Anglo-Saxon men of property, and that’s a good thing. But it doesn’t hurt to review what our political system is based on, and how far we may have strayed from some of the essential rights and responsibilities, explicit and inferred, in the nation’s founding document.

 

PIÑON RIDGE … The outrage expressed by the Colorado Dept. of Health and Environment a month or so back when DOE officials questioned the failure of the state to hold adequate public hearings on the uranium mill license in Montrose County seems pretty spurious now, after the recent ruling in Denver District Court. Clearly the state didn’t do the job they contracted with DOE to do. Gov. Hickenlooper ought to take note. If the Democrats are going to join the Republicans in promoting nuclear power, they can’t cut corners and ignore federal requirements, even if Colorado has assumed uranium licensing authority within its boundaries … Kudos to Sheep Mountain, the Town of Telluride and the Town of Ophir for holding the state’s feet to the fire. When a state agency in the executive branch fails to allow a mandatory public hearing and gets called on it by the judicial branch, you know somebody’s fast-tracking a proposal. Under our U.S. Constitution, the public has a right to know what private industry and local government are pushing through the process.

 

THE TALKING GOURD

 

#18

 

I’ve climbed ten thousand

mountains

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

Lafayette

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