About the Cover Artist: Gloria Jean Countryman

I have to confess that one of my favorite parts of putting out this magazine is coming up with the monthly cover art. As the first impression, I always try to find cover art that is eye-catching and unpredictable.

This issue has several articles about ranches and ranching, so I began to mentally visualize what would might work well on the cover – a winter ranch scene, somewhere in the mountains, preferably at twilight.

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Driving Nature Into the Ground?

By Bill Hatcher

“In Colorado, the outdoors is what’s for dinner!”

That’s Sherry Ellms, Professor of Environmental Studies at Naropa University in Boulder. I had asked her what motorized recreation says about American Culture. And while playful, her dining metaphor belies our tendency to “consume” nature.

In 1991, 11,700 OHVs (off-highway vehicles, such as dirt bikes, jeeps and all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs) were registered in Colorado. By 2012, that number had grown to over 160,000. 

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Poncha Springs Fire Station

The Poncha Springs Fire Station, located at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 50 and U.S. Hwy. 285, is the fourth property featured from the Chaffee County Historic Resources Survey. As stated by Virginia McConnell Simmons in The Upper Arkansas, A Mountain River Valley, Poncha Pass was part of a hub of trails leading in and out of the southern end of the San Luis Valley. The pass, at an altitude of 8,945 feet, is one of the lowest in the state. In 1779, Comanches retreated over Poncha Pass with stolen horses while being pursued by 600 Spanish dragoons. Arizona Governor Juan Bautista de Anza led the soldiers in a chase ending just south of Pueblo, where the Comnache leader, Cuerno Verde, and other high-ranking tribe members were killed. The hot springs area just a mile from the present town was a favorite campsite for the Ute tribe.

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George Wade Foott – Art, Artifacts … and Whitewater

Ever since we took over the reins of this magazine last March we’d been hoping to do a profile on George Foott. His wonderfully realistic historic paintings and his legendary boating skills — skills he was still developing well into his late 60s — were an inspiration to many in a variety of intersecting circles in Colorado.

Then suddenly, he was gone, a victim of the melanoma which had metastasized and quickly took George on December 17, 2009 at the age of 70.

Rather than write a tribute to the man ourselves we sought out some of his old friends, kayaking buddies and business associates and asked them to tell us about George in their own words. We thank them for their memories and contributions. — M. Rosso

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Reintroducing the Tabors: A Series

Part 4 –  The Divorce and Death of Augusta Tabor
by Francisco A. Rios

Since conjecture leads to supposition, we can suppose that the “old critter” in last month’s letter was Augusta Tabor. At the end of this month’s installment we shall read of her death in California. Meanwhile, it is enlightening to read a letter from Horace’s sister in Kansas and note the opinion that she has of Augusta and the justification that she offers to Horace for leaving Augusta. E.J. Moys wrote with family news from Lawrence, Kansas on April 25 1881:

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Quillen’s Corner

Whose History is It? Theirs or Ours?

By Martha Quillen

In the 1990s, an increasing number of New West historians tried to alter common ideas about Old West history. Their attempts to change people’s minds were met with vociferous derision, passionate support and hot debate.

And thus, American history experienced a renaissance, which thereby boosted the fame and fortune of a number of professors who had hitherto taught a subject viewed as fairly stodgy (especially when one considered its financial clout in comparison to medicine and MBAs).

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Chaffee County Geothermal Offers Promise, Raises Concerns

Graphic courtesy of Mt. Princeton Geothermal LLC

by Ron Sering

With the BLM’s announcement of a lease auction of nearly 800 acres in the vicinity of Mt. Princeton hot springs, the area could be the site of the state’s first geothermal power plant. Not everyone is happy about it.

Geothermal energy uses heat generated by volcanic activity beneath the earth. Applications include direct use, such as collecting hot water in a pool, or heating buildings such as homes or greehhouses, or, in a unique local case, for aquaculture to raise fish and reptiles. Colorado Gators in Mosca started as an aquaculture facility, later adding alligators which have generated tourism.

Geothermal generation of electricity began in the Lardarello region of Italy, where a power plant has been in steady use since 1913. The plant generates approximately 4.8 billion kilowatt hours per year and serves more than a million homes. The facility creates steam by pumping cold water onto hot rocks below the surface, which in turn drives turbines to generate electricity.

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Falling in Love Again

By Susan Tweit

A little over two weeks ago, I woke in La Paz, Baja California del Sur, Mexico, where clouds of neon-bright bougainvillea blossoms hang over courtyard walls, hooded orioles chatter at Anna’s hummingbirds, and the air smells like the aromatic desert and the salty Sea of Cortez.

It was the last morning in a trip that included a week spent teaching a creative writing workshop on Isla Espiritu Santo, “Island of the Holy Spirit,” a place I’ve longed to visit for more than three decades.

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Doc Holliday In Salida: Sightseeing Or Bloody Business? (Part One of Two)

by Charles F. Price

Was Salida the jumping-off point for the last killing in the West’s most famous vendetta, the one spawned by the so-called Gunfight at the OK Corral?

At least one recognized historian thinks so. Karen Holliday Tanner, whose collateral ancestor was the Georgia-born gambler/gunman/failed dentist Dr. John H. (“Doc”) Holliday, writes in a 1998 biography of her famed forebear that when he stepped off the train in Salida in the summer of 1882 he quickly met with Wyatt Earp and others west of town and in a roundabout trek by horseback and train slipped secretly into southeastern Arizona to slay John Peters Ringo, one of the last remaining members of the cowboy gang they had battled in Tombstone earlier that year.

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Housing Market

by Hal Walter

You see, it’s a little like this,” said my friend Peter. “It’s sort of like a roach motel. It’s easy to get in, but it’s hard to get out.”

Peter was talking about Custer County, specifically real-estate ownership here, where a quick look at the 81252 ZIP code on realtor.com brings up a mind-numbing 227 homes for sale. That’s one home on the market for every 15 residents, and most of us already have homes.

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REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

New VA Tele-Clinic Opens in Salida

SALIDA – The Veteran’s Administration (VA) has opened a new clinic in Salida, which will allow veterans to use special videoconferencing equipment to communicate with doctors at a VA outpatient clinic in Pueblo. There will also be medical personnel on hand to assist veterans at the clinic.

The clinic, one of 10 tele-health clinics the VA plans to open in Colorado, is located the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center campus. Clinic hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It can be reached at 719-539-8666.

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A Farmer Far Afield – John Mattingly

Funny Farm

Farms aren’t usually thought of as wellsprings of humor, except for the clichés about farmers being dumber than a mud fence. Over the years, however, there have been a few memorable moments of comedy on the farm, ranging from camp to Kafka, the former arising from the partial gift of a jackass.

Oh Jerusalem! A clever friend of mine, George, bequeathed to me a half interest in a star-crossed jackass named Jerusalem — my half being the front half, which meant I got to feed him. The world has seldom seen a more dolorous and eternally patient jack than Jerusalem. It seemed he could stand motionless in the same place for days.

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Water Update

by John Orr

2010 Colorado legislative session

Gunnison County’s State Representative Kathleen Curry — who recently declared as an independent after winning her seat in the state house as a Democrat — plans to introduce a bill that would allow rafting companies and others to float through private property without being subject to trespassing charges from landowners. Her bill would clear up the current ambiguity in state statutes. According to the Colorado Independent the bill would “allow licensed outfitters to not only raft, kayak or fish on rivers and streams crossing private property, but also make contact with the riverbank without trespassing.” Outfitters would be limited to incidental contact and portaging necessary for safety reasons — say to portage around a bridge during high water. Meal stops or bathroom breaks would still be trespassing.

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News from the San Luis Valley

Eco News

December storms that ravaged the rest of the country were kind to the mid Valley: lotsa cold, little snow on the ground, but good snowpack. According to the Division of Water Resources, the Rio Grande Basin went from below normal to above normal snowpack in about a week.

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Green Sweaters

by Conor Laing

Editor’s note: In an effort to encourage young writers, we’ve been soliciting area schoolteachers to submit student work they consider above average. The following story came from Laurel McHargue’s 10th Grade English class at Lake County High School in Leadville.

Dawn broke in brilliant shades of orange and red. Suddenly, like some mystic demon, the city came to life. Factories roared and growled in rage. Lights came on like a thousand monstrous eyes. The city creaked and moaned in pain as the steel mills opened.

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Financial Incentives for Renewable Energy

by Aaron Mandelkorn

One barrier that remains ever present in the renewable energy (RE) industry is consistent financial incentives. As the industry continues to evolve, we can hope that the price of this technology comes down to a point where tax credits and utility rebates are not needed to make an investment affordable; but that day is not yet here. Currently these incentives are one of the key forces driving this industry.

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Bring Me a Higher Love

mountain love

by Dawne Belloise

If you like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain, If you’re not into yoga,
if you have half a brain,
If you’d like making love at midnight in the dunes on the Cape
Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for write to me and escape”
— Rupert Holmes

Up here at the end of the road in the mountains, relationships and affairs of the heart can get as sticky as a box of half-bitten Valentine chocolates. The incestuous nature of small town romances can liken local dating to sinking your teeth into every piece of confection in the box just to find out what’s inside the yummy coating. Historically, ski town populations are generally male-dominated — despite that it’s an over-used cliche, the fact remains — although the odds are good for the women, the goods are odd. Nevertheless, men find themselves in the love shuffle, and as one friend recited the mountain man mantra perched from his hunting site atop a bar stool while nursing his recent breakup, “You don’t lose your girl, you just lose your turn.”

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