Weathering the Blizzard of 2003

Column by Hal Walter

Weather – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

LIVING WITH MOTHER NATURE’S manic bouts of PMS has become especially challenging here in the Wet Mountains, where inside of one year we have had both a 300-year drought and a 100-year snowstorm. In Ma Nature’s defense, you’d be a little off balance too if you had holes that big in your O-zone.

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The frogs in the pot

Column by George Sibley

American politics – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

I GOT MAD at the local public radio station when the Iraq war had been going on for a few days; the management decided that it would replace The Prairie Home Companion on Saturday afternoon with two hours of war news. I wrote the station a letter in protest: “The president would be delighted to hear this. Knowing that Garrison Keillor usually has something critical to say about him, the president will be happy to know that instead you expect us to focus for a couple of hours on his war.”

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Indulging in a patriotic duty

Letter from Slim Wolfe

American politics – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine


Readers will note that Martha Quillen and I have been able to engage in a series of misunderstandings in these pages without getting ballistic or insulting each others ethnic recipes. I’m grateful for the chance to indulge my patriotic duty to get snickety — with another fish to fry this month, namely your habitual letter-writer, Whitefish Dave. Sit on this hard seat, Dave, while we turn the spotlights on.

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Whose river is it?

Letter from Tammy La Vercombe

Water – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

Dear Ed & Martha:

I always enjoy reading the historical pieces printed in Colorado Central, which you seem to enjoy gathering information for and writing.

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Mactracks at work

Letter from Jeanette Luttrell

Transportation – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

Dear Martha and Ed Quillen,

My friend in Poncha Springs told me he saw in Colorado Central Magazine a request for information on Mactracks.

My husband uses them on his 1995 Suburban. We moved from Salida to the Uncompahgre Plateau southwest of Montrose seventeen months ago.

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Searching for the word

Letter from Eugene Lorig

American politics – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine


Am a little slow this morning. When I first read Larae Essman’s letter in the April issue, I thought by “Bush men” she meant a tribe of bloodthirsty savages living in a disease-infested swamp on a polluted river in a dark and forbidding jungle belt, their leader a superstitious ignoramus appointed by five witch doctors. My friends at the 666 Club enlightened me.

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Life on the home front 60 years ago in Salida

Article by Orville Wright

Salida history – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

NOW THAT THE Liberation of Iraq is underway, the United States once again finds itself engaged in armed conflict. Personal reflections about another conflict that turned life upside down almost 60 years ago seem to be in order.

Kids in my age bracket were about six years old during World War Two. Looking back on it, I realize how much sacrifice must have been involved to keep the horror of war out of our young lives. For that, I offer much-belated thanks to everyone who made it possible.

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Two sides are not enough

Essay by Martha Quillen

American politics – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

THERE ARE at least 116 sides to every major issue, but Americans keep trying to reduce everything to two sides — maybe because of our two-party system.

Personally, I think it makes us look uneducated and bigoted, or maybe it doesn’t merely make us look that way, maybe it actually makes us ignorant and bigoted.

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A start on adapting a yard to the climate

Article by Ray Schoch

Drought – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine


I came to Colorado after half a century in St. Louis, Missouri — where 40 inches of rain a year, the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi, and oh, yes humidity rivaling a Brazilian rain forest’s, made for a water supply which seldom entered my thoughts. I was retracing the Oregon Trail for the first time in 1975. Standing on top of Scott’s Bluff that June, looking west to the Laramie Range on the horizon, it dawned on me that, despite the bright Nebraska sun and a temperature of 85 degrees, I was comfortable. All those “but it’s a dry heat” jokes suddenly made sense.

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Living with the drought

Article by Jim And Gary Ludwig

Drought – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

BY ALL STANDARDS we are in a drought. We don’t know if this is a short-term phenomenon or the beginning of an extended period of below normal precipitation. During 2002 it was convenient to just ignore the situation unless it directly affected you and assume that things would be back to normal this year.

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Writing the Range in Gunnison this summer

Brief by Central Staff

Writing – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

If you’ve ever felt a compulsion to write about the West, and you’d like to learn more about how to do it, Western State College may be able to help. Along with the Western Writers of America, the college is sponsoring a four-day workshop this summer which will include nine credit classes, as well as some recreation.

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An aching back for a good cause along the Arkansas

Brief by Central Staff

Recreation – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

If you don’t have enough yard work to do this spring, you can still get the exercise, as well as the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from volunteering for a good cause.

The good cause here is the Blue Heron Recreation Site near Florence. It’s part of the 150-mile-long Arkansas River Headwaters Recreation Area, but the 247-acre site (recently acquired by the federal Bureau of Land Management) has been closed to the public because it lacks visitor facilities and user-access trails.

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Roadkill 101

Brief by Central Staff

Wildlife – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

Roadkill is something many of us joke about, mostly because there isn’t much else we can do, brake or swerve as we might when a critter appears in the headlights.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife has understandably wanted to learn more about what animals die and where, but it never had the time or personnel to conduct a thorough study.

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Old South Park depot in Buena Vista will be restored

Brief by Clint Driscoll

Railroad history – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

A part of the Denver, South Park & Pacific (DSP&P) narrow gauge railroad is rising phoenix-like from the ashes in Buena Vista. On October 18, 2002 at about 4:00 a.m. a fire occurred in the owner’s residence at the Woodland Brook Cabins, a long-established tourist resort in town. The fire began and was pretty much contained in the laundry room and the adjoining kitchen. The rest of the house was structurally intact, but heat and smoke destroyed or damaged a lot of the contents. Homeowner Riian Van Niekerk escaped unhurt; his wife Marjorie was out of town at the time.

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Around the region

Brief by Central Staff

Local events – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

The Arkansas missed this list

Four major rivers originate in our part of the world (which explains why George Sibley calls this the Headwaters Region), and three of them made the list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2003, which has “Ten rivers reaching the crossroads in the next 12 months.”

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Salida Presbyterian Church not destroyed by 1926 fire

Brief by Central Staff

Salida History – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

We were wrong about the date and cause of the demise of the First Presbyterian Church building at the corner of Third and F streets in Salida. It was in the background of a photo of a Ku Klux Klan parade that appears on a historic postcard sold locally. The back of the postcard, as well as another source we consulted, said that the church building burned to the ground in 1926.

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14ers seek summer volunteers

Brief by Central Staff

Outdoors – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

We’ve all seen those “adopt a highway” signs, and now there’s an opportunity to “adopt a 14er,” thanks to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, a volunteer organization which works to restore Colorado’s highest mountains.

Groups are being asked to host annual work projects on the mountains. At least eight people would be involved for two days a year, and the adoption would include maintenance along the standard route, repair of structures, and monitoring new impacts (like “social trails” through fragile meadows).

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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

One Drop at a Time

It’s spring in the Valley, and the word is water. The Big Dump barely brushed the Big Empty, giving Alamosa only a couple of inches of snow, and even though the mountains got piles, we’re still not out of the (dry) woods. April 1 figures show the Rio Grande at about 50 percent of normal flow, and the Conejos River at 54 percent. The Rio Grande Water Users Association urges water users to unite, and is considering the formation of sub-districts for better management.

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Cable system sale goes through

Brief by Central Staff

Telecommunications – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

Cable TV systems seem to change hands so frequently that it’s difficult to keep track of their names. In Salida, Leadville, Buena Vista, and Alamosa, as well as other rural towns in Colorado, there was TCI, which turned into AT&T Broadband, which became Comcast AT&T — and now the deal is done to make these systems part of Bresnan Communications.

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Leadville is high, but not that high

Brief by Central Staff

Leadville – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

Granted, the air is thin in Leadville, but it’s not nearly as thin as the air in a Los Angeles Times article about America’s highest incorporated city.

The article, by David Kelly, was syndicated and appeared locally in the March 23 edition of The Denver Post.

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My changing West

Essay by Kirk Littlefield

Economy – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

IS THE WEST changing for the worse or is it simply changing?

Growing up, I had the tendency to believe the former: The mountains that I loved were going to be ruined forever by the endless surge of newcomers.

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Western Water Report: May 4, 2003


The Colorado River mainstem, the North and South Platte, Yampa/White and Arkansas basins have near average snowpack, while the Rio Grande, Gunnison and San Juan basins are below average with 71%, 70% and 56% respectfully. Upper Colorado River Basin snowpack is currently 71 percent of average (as of May 2, 2003). The May preliminary inflow forecast issued by the National Weather Service is calling for 4.4 million acre-feet of unregulated runoff into Lake Powell during the 2003 April through July time period. This equates to 55 percent of average. The inflow forecast has been reduced from that forecasted in April. The April final forecast was calling for inflow of 66 percent of average. Periods of warm windy weather took a toll on the mountain snowpack in April. Such warm windy conditions increase sublimation losses from the snowpack, and also increase evaporation losses from the soil.

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Whose flag is it?

Letter from Andy Burns America – May 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine Editors, Recently an anti-war group in my region was refusing to use American flag stamps on their mailings. Pro-war, anti-peace nationalists have a knack for confiscating the flag and turning it into a symbol of belligerence and divisiveness and “I’m-more-American-than-thouness.” But the No-War …

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