‘A quality artist, it would seem, should have the capacity to express the beauty of their experience without spelling out its name on a map’
By David LaGreca
I have the greatest respect for all who venture to experience the appeal and the raw essence that comes with the mountains. The freedom that is held amongst the hills is summoned upon each mission we take, each peak we summit, each line we ski, each meadow we pass through en route to that remote liberty. Our passions are aligned, I assure you, but I fear that many of those places we all cherish are at risk.
What’s at risk is not immediately from development in many of these places, such as in the precious Gore Range and other Summit County spectacles. Instead, what is at risk is serenity itself. That peace we are guaranteed when we strive beyond the limits of the masses to serve out a deeper purpose in the mountains is, I fear, being threatened. That the slow erosion of this peace and silence is marketed wholesale online by its most frequent patrons, the outdoor enthusiasts themselves, is a dangerous irony we cannot ignore. Continue reading “Hey, mountaineers — Think before you blog!”→
Time to move beyond tired election rehash stories and campaign post-mortems
By Bob Berwyn
Mark Udall will be missed by many in Colorado’s high country towns, where people have developed a culture and lifestyle based on values that mostly transcend political and ideological divides. We don’t squabble so much about gun rights or abortion — mountain culture is global, rooted to natural resources and imbued, for the most part, with an appreciation of a clean and healthy environment.
Udall has hiked, skied and camped across the Colorado mountains and really involved himself in issues that matter to high country dwellers: Forest fires, outdoor recreation, water and wilderness preservation among the most important. He was probably the closest thing we had in Congress to a champion for the mountains, which isn’t surprising, given his family’s legacy, so there was a real sense of sadness in some of the social media comments on his loss to Cory Gardner.
More worrisome was the immediate nasty and partisan edge to some of the comments about Cory Gardner, who will represent Summit County, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Grand County … ALL of Colorado for the next six years.
Instead of requiring resorts to transfer water rights, the Forest Service now proposes adding language to ski area permits that would ensure that enough water remains linked to ensure future operations. The water rights could not be sold separately from other resort assets like chairlifts and lodges.
Grassroots support helps fund independent environmental reporting
Independent journalism isn’t free. Support Colorado Environmental Reporting!
By Bob Berwyn
I’m posting a HUGE round of thanks to readers from all over Colorado and the West for responding to our fundraising call the last two weeks. Thanks to supporters like Linda Johnson, Tad Foster, Catherine Shafroth, Peter Hall and others, we’ll be able to report more in-depth environmental stories. We’ll soon update our permanent sponsor page with the names of our new supporters and at the same time thank past sponsors like the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Colorado River Water Conservation District and Innovative Energy.
We need your support to keep documenting the environmental stories of the Rocky Mountains. We welcome any size donation and would really appreciate you spreading the word via email and virtual social circles.
Reader and contributor Linda Johnson asked about a crowdfunded study on winter ozone formation and that story is in the works. Meanwhile, we’re happy to report that the team did reach its $12,000 fundraising goal, which means more good science to help guide policies on energy development.
And supporter Peter Hall suggested some educational stories about Colorado’s “split estate,” a quirky mineral law that does nothing but heighten the tension between property owners and fossil fuel companies. Peter was kind enough to even suggest a few specific sources, so we should be able to report a story or two in the next few weeks.
“It’s Christmas. Build community and invite your guests to be part of it. Be real. Hold on to your culture. Don’t be afraid to let your spiritual values shine through. Celebrate the mountains for the joy and comfort they give. Protect the forests and the streams. Nurture your children and give them hope.”
By Bob Berwyn
Christmas and skiing have been inextricably linked for me ever since I was an “army brat” growing up in Frankfurt, Germany. The classroom Christmas party on the last day of school (yes, we called it that back on the pre-politically correct days) wasn’t nearly as exciting as the thought that we’d soon be on starting our annual two-week ski vacation to Austria.
Sometimes there was snow on the ground; slushy, dirty city snow that splattered as the cars passed by. But more often than not, it was just gray and dreary, and my heart always skipped a beat when that finned, white 1960 Chevy Impala rolled up. Everything fit in the trunk of our classic American car, even our two-meter-plus skis, so there was plenty of room for my brother and I to sprawl in the back seat. No fast food stops for us — there was no McDonalds or Burger King along the way, so we ate well; cold schnitzels my mom had made earlier that day, or open-faced sausage sandwiches with tangy pickles, carrot sticks and wedges of green bell peppers.
Sometimes we dozed, but more often than not, we were still awake when we slowed to a stop at the border, where customs officials in long, thick wool coats decorated with epaulets scanned our green U.S. passports, then waved us through with a friendly smile and a “Merry Christmas.”
The mountainous frontier south of Munich was the gateway to snow country. By the glow of the headlights, we gauged the depth of the berm alongside the road to get an idea of how the skiing would be. Here the road narrowed and twisted through a river-carved canyon, mysterious and new each time we made the trip. Our destination was Saalbach, then a small, up and coming ski village that has since succumbed to the same development pressures that have afflicted so many mountain communities during the past few decades. Continue reading “Essay: A mountain town Christmas”→
Hurricane Sandy spurs awareness of links between climate change and extreme weather
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Along with devastating New Jersey’s shoreline and flooding big chunks of New York City, Hurricane Sandy also pushed the public dialogue about climate change out of the musty closet and right smack into the middle of polite dinner table conversation and, even more importantly, into the political arena, just days before the presidential election.
After a couple of days surveying the damage, both the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York directly addressed the issue in a social and political context. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, factored climate change into a political endorsement of Barack Obama as the candidate better equipped to tackle the issue.