Land conservation, local farming go hand-in-hand

By Hal Walter
We don’t often think of the conservation and local food movements as being interrelated. However, two events I recently attended spelled out just how interconnected two causes could and should be.

Central to both are undeveloped land and clean water, and healthy local economies. It’s an often overlooked fact that agriculture in the Arkansas Valley is central to keeping water flowing in the river throughout central Colorado. For instance, if it were not being used to irrigate chiles, melons and many other fine crops in the river’s lower reaches, the water might be siphoned off higher and sent to the Front Range to irrigate medians. Moreover, when irrigated land is “dried-up” then it often goes under development.

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The caboose

by Forrest Whitman

A Magic Goose Ride

A buddy and I just rode the Gallopin’ Goose #5 on the Cumbres and Toltec R.R. It was a magical ride. We started out in a rainstorm at Chama; and as we reached the summit, a full moon lit up the golden aspens. There were deer, elk and a bobcat jumping out of the way. Food at the top was good too, with prime rib and baked chicken entrees.

They’ll be pulling out the Goose again and it’s a trip worth planning for. Built in the 1930s for the long defunct Rio Grande Southern, these geese are hard to define. Are they a train? Well, they do have air brakes, ride steel wheels, and carry markers front and rear, so they’re a train. On the other hand, they are built on an old school bus body and are powered by a W.W. II surplus gasoline engine from GM. They carried mail and freight too, so they were early UPS trucks. Ride them and decide what in the world they are. They’re great fun.

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Restaurant Review – The Asian Palate

By Sue Snively

 The Asian Palate
328 E. Main St., Buena Vista, CO

Hours: Lunch – Mon, Wed – Sat: 11am-2pm

Dinner – Mon, Wed – Sunday: 5pm-9pm


For a small town with many eateries, it doesn’t take long in Buena Vista to find a type of food that will satisfy your tastes on any particular evening. We don’t eat out very much, so when we do so we like it to be special and different; thus we found ourselves bypassing a variety of standard American dining places and a few others with international influences, and chose to dine at the Asian Palate.

Eddie Sandoval opened the restaurant in July of 2009. He chose Buena Vista because of his familiarity with and love of the town. He surveyed a fair number of residents to learn what kind of restaurant might do well, and came up with Asian cuisine based upon the number of requests for sushi on the menu. Eddie is a first-generation Filipino who grew up eating Asian food, and decided a restaurant with a wide variety of authentic foods from many Asian countries would be a good bet. He is an expert on Asian cooking and personally trains his chefs.

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News from the San Luis Valley

By Patty LaTaille

DA Denied Weapons Permit

12th Judicial District Attorney David Mahonee was denied a concealed weapons permit based on a FBI fingerprint match between Mahonee and a David Huey that reflected an arrest record from a crime committed in Minnesota, 1971 in prohibiting the possession of firearms.

Huey (now known as David Mahonee) was charged with auto theft, a felony that was eventually reduced to misdemeanor unauthorized use of a vehicle. Mahonee, who legally changed his name from Huey in 1983, successfully requested that the 1971 record of his conviction be expunged last year.

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Mission: Wolf – A Refuge in the Wet Mountains

By Tyler Grimes
Kent Weber enters a gate into the fenced-in home of three wolves. He makes his way down into the aspen grove where the wolves are dispersed, playfully calling them. They perk up from their food-induced stupor brought on by the 15 pounds of meat they gorged on the previous day. The wolves are drawn to Weber’s gentle authority and come to greet him. They jump up on their hind legs, place their front paws on Weber’s chest and sniff his teeth, the signature wolf greeting. He pets them like a dog, which they accept momentarily before running off.

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Regional News

Wildfire in Custer County Destroys Homes

WETMORE – A forest fire in Custer County has burned nearly 2,100 acres near Wetmore and was at 65% containment as of press time. Hundreds of nearby residents were forced to flee their homes, of which 14 were destroyed in the Greenwood area.

Among those who sustained the loss of their homes was Custer County deputy Mike Halpin, who discovered his own home in flames while going door to door to alert residents, according to the Wet Mountain Tribune.

An estimated 240 firefighters and support personnel are working the fire. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

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Rural Philanthropy – Funding Nonprofits

By Elliot Jackson

The city of Salida got to do one of the things it does best in September. To welcome a special group of economic developers, it threw a walkabout of its art galleries and local businesses for the 300+ participants of the Heart of the Rockies Region Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD). The walking tour introduced the RPD conference, including representatives of some of Colorado’s largest nonprofit funders, to Salida in its newly-minted status as a Colorado Creative District. The downtown business owners, in their turn, welcomed the after-hours customers.

“This was something different,” according to Brett Haydin, co-chair of the steering committee for the RPD, whose 45 members were drawn from across a five-county region. “We wanted to give the (conference) participants, many of whom were coming from Denver and the Front Range, a sense of what it was like to be in our rural community.”

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Economic Development in Central Colorado

By Ann Marie Swan

Like a siren’s song, economic development efforts are meant to lure new businesses to the Arkansas Valley. These efforts must also support and enhance deeply rooted local businesses. Keeping both pieces of the economic puzzle in mind, the billion-dollar question remains: how do we retain and create sustainable jobs while maintaining the area’s character and charm?

The members of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) tackle this question daily. They’ll tell you there isn’t one answer, but a few. This corporation considers the big economic picture. Its purpose is to find solutions, manifest living-wage jobs and facilitate sustainable economic development. The CCEDC might as well shout from the mountaintops, “Chaffee County is open for business.”

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Elections, Magazines and Surveys

As I write this we are only days away from the next “big” election. Along with this comes a high level of anxiety among the populace that, in some cases, is alleviated somewhat by the Major League Baseball playoffs and World Series.

Not having even basic cable TV service, I can only begin to imagine the frustration, confusion and feelings of helplessness that the massive barrage of political ads helps to manufacture. Thanks again to Justices Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Kennedy and Thomas for enabling so much unaccounted-for cash to dominate the election noise this year. Unfortunately the small media outlets such as this magazine are not the recipients of so much cash in the form of advertising revenue. All that money goes to the big boys at the TV and radio networks. And what a coincidence that a “close race” adds even more to their coffers. We can only hope they use some of that money to hire actual investigative reporters, rather than repeaters. More likely it will be used to fill the coffers of the CEOs, but so it goes.

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Down on the Ground with Democracy and Money

By George Sibley

By the time you are reading this, the Great Election of 2012 may be in the can, since voting has been going on in most states for weeks, along with the ubiquitous polling. But whoever wins whatever offices, we probably ought to put in some time evaluating this election – perhaps around the question: was this the election through which American capitalism finally vanquished American democracy?

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The Lobato Bridge

The Lobato (Costilla Crossing) Bridge is the southernmost bridge over the Rio Grande River in Colorado. It sits on County Road G between Antonito and Jaroso, Colorado and was originally constructed in 1892 by Joseph F. Thomas. He was a civil engineer and the Conejos County Surveyor and lived in Manassa, Co.. The bridge was purchased from the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio for the sum of $8,400. The bridge parts were shipped to Colorado by train and assembled on location.

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Arkansas Traveler: Fall Fishing for Brown Trout

Dateline – Near Salida and Cañon City, Colorado. It seems counterintuitive, a misnomer. The Arkansas River heads in the high country of southern Colorado, and a portion of northern New Mexico. It’s the fourth longest river in the United States, obviously named for an encounter in its namesake state. But it seems like it ought to be called something else, like the “Rio Truchas” or “Boulder River” or “Pike’s River.” Its moniker doesn’t fit, here at least. Zebulon Pike passed through here under Jefferson’s watch in his zealous attempt at exploring the then-northern Spanish colony. Pike got arrested for his endeavor, and in the complex outcome, was paroled in Mexico. For it all, he got a peak named after him; its waters feed the Arkansas.

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Fall Back

By John Mattingly
In this election year, it seems worth doubling down on the “back” part.

I remember a time, not so far back, when politicians resembled statesmen. Today – even if one sets aside the petty barbs of campaign advertising and debates – the process has become dominated by polls, super PACS, focus groups, and an endless procession of mediocre minds.

I’d like to be specific about a few things in this regard, knowing readers will have their own examples, which I would enjoy hearing about.

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Moving On

By Susan Tweit

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs, 2005 commencement speech

I’m just beginning my contemplative season (interrupted though it will be, for reasons I won’t bore you with). In the snatches of time I’ve found to listen within, I already hear one very clear and somewhat scary message: It’s time to focus on writing the books I’ve had in my head for a couple of years.

What’s scary about that? Writing a book requires long, uninterrupted stretches of time – months, preferably – to work on a single project. (I don’t multi-task in writing; focusing on one thing at a time is the only way I can hear the voice of my creativity.) To carve out that time, I’m shifting the balance of my freelance work and letting go of some of my regular deadlines.

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