Goodtimes:The New Mining Boom Is On and San Miguel County Is Ground Zero | Up Bear Creek
by Art Goodtimes
Sep 05, 2007 | 1190 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
URANIUM … The Environmental Working Group has just released a report tracking the 239 percent increase in mining claims on federal lands in the last four years here in Colorado – from 5,430 filings to 18,391.

That exceeds the 38 percent increase over the same period for the 12 western states ( … And with the current federal administration cozying up to industry at every turn, even our national parks aren’t exempt from the impacts. The report warned that a large number of the claims are near some of the nation’s most treasured public lands and other scenic destinations. Grand Canyon National Park, for example, had 805 claims staked within five miles of its borders since 2003. Such claims, if developed, could mar the scenery, drive away wildlife, pollute the environment and even hinder public access, warn the report’s authors. “There’s a race afoot to snatch up mining rights close to America’s most precious and recognized parks,” said Jane Danowitz, director of the Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining. “This is allowed by a mining law that not only allows the practice, but underwrites it at taxpayers’ expense” … As so many of us in the West know, mineral mining is regulated by the 1872 General Mining Act, a law that even the mining industry agrees needs to be updated. The outdated statute gives federal officials little leeway to deny mining claims, and it permits land to be sold to mining companies at a price capped at $5 an acre, called “patenting.” Though Congress has been banning patents annually since 1994, those submitted before then can still gain approval, and some lawmakers have pushed to allow the cheap sales again … The good news, if there is any, according to Scott Rappold of the Colorado Springs Gazette, is that “Congress is making the first serious attempt in a decade to change the 1872 law. Hearings have been held in Washington and another is scheduled in Nevada.” … The Environmental Working Group’s analyst Dusty Horwit says that “Land managers have the legal equivalent of a pick and shovel when it comes to protecting our precious places.” … The report cites San Miguel County as one in Colorado with the most new claims, as well as Montrose, Gilpin, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Lake and Park counties. Maybe the most disturbing is the news that 2,190 claims filed within five miles of the Dolores River in western Colorado since 2003. As the report notes, uranium mines can pollute water for decades and cost millions of dollars to clean up. The report also explained mining claims could impede access to public land. Some Colorado fourteeners — mountains over 14,000 feet tall — have been closed to the public for periods because of mining claims, like what’s happened with Rusty Nichols and access to Wilson Peak … As Rappold wrote, “Most of the claims are for uranium, which has seen increased demand because of the worldwide resurgence of nuclear power. Colorado has the nation’s third-greatest reserve of uranium, behind Wyoming and New Mexico, according to the state Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. The division says there are 35 permitted uranium mining projects – though none are actively producing – and 28 prospecting permits in eight counties.” … And though we can protest and complain, there’s not a whole lot local citizens can do to stop the uranium juggernaut under the current administration’s policies.

GLIESE 581c … Nationally recognized mycologist Gary Lincoff was in rare form once again, as he set the tone for the 27th Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival – cutting edge, far-out and very thoroughly grounded … The latter, of course, refers to the daily forays, which were meager by some of the festival’s previous standards, although my youngest and I rustled up a panful of Boletus edulis (wormless) and another of chanterelles from up on Lizard Head in our three hours of foraging … John Winslow’s Blue Lily took me to another time, along the Nile, at the height of Egyptian munificence. Kat Harrison helped us balance the Wasson lineage with a healthy psychotropic dose of the feminine. We heard the latest preliminary results from on-going LSD/Ridlan research … And being back in the Galaxy was simply divine … It’s so wonderful to see the Telluride Institute step in to rescue this quirkiest niche market of the Telluride summer festival season.

FLAGGER PURGATORY … In those slides that caught CDOT with its crews elsewhere and unable to mobilize to clear the debris from Colorado Highway 145 a few weeks ago (CDOT’s conveniently moved their local supervisory office from Ridgway to Cortez), I was one of those stuck at the top of Norwood Hill when a flagger came along and told me the road was closed. “Fine,” I said. “I’ll just turn around and head over Last Dollar Road to Deep Creek.” “No,” I was told, by said flagger, as she finished puffing her cigarette and threw the butt in the roadway. “You have to stay there.” … So, I did for 20 minutes or so. And then I saw a water truck moving in the opposite direction, and I tagged along behind, ignoring the waves of the flagger, who apparently wanted everyone to spend the night waiting in her line, while county crews and Telluride Gravel folks got the road open … And I was one of the lucky ones. I heard tales of more compliant folks who waiting three hours, instead of taking the readily available alternative. How ridiculous. It’s certainly soured my attitude towards Kiewit. If they’d asked for a special closure for two weekends after that incident, I would not have been as amenable as I was.

©2007 Art Goodtimes


snooze button

i thought i felt the credits roll

when i fell asleep last night

music slowly fade to thin trickle

watered down syrup steam

i could see the white font

credits marching up the screen

their vinyl go-go boots

equipped with silencers

so it was a big surprise

when i sat up this morning

at 6:17AM, the same scrappy

old trailer surroundings

but i had the distinct impression

of fortune, found frog skins

dance along a crumbling precipice

that i had pushed the snooze button on death

t. zoEy benally


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