Except I left the chairs home. We have some great Zero Gravity camp chairs and I left them in the garage on our trip to the west desert and Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge yesterday. Kirsten and I want to take the chairs to some of the iconic view sheds in the West and hang for awhile. We have never gone outside less often than now that we are running a land oriented publishing house. We want to remedy that. Utah sits at a triangular apex of the best scenery there is, the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. Next time we will take the chairs.
Yesterday was in the Great Basin. I have heard a number of times that only two percent of charitable giving goes to conservation. Yet here we live in a state that can easily be described as 98 percent scenic landscape. The disconnect from urban to open scene is sudden. Just south of Point of the Mountain on I-15 while still in the midst of the Wasatch Front urban corridor, turn west, go through a slight pass into Cedar Valley and the population density drops 90 percent. Ten more miles west of that and the population density is zero.
On our way through Cedar Valley a real estate sized sign with a general aviation airplane insignia caught my eye and I u-turned to go see. Just through an isolated row of a dozen or more Quonset huts I could see a wind sock. We realized as we pulled up the huts were hangars. And homes. Co-owner Alina Davis came out and gave us a quick tour. It is a private airpark where they rent, perhaps also sell hangar space and sell and build very cool RANS kit planes. New West, right there, hiding in, um, a plane site. Who knew?
We drove due south from the airport toward Eureka on a dirt road and in completely open space. Constant barbed wire fence, but not a home in sight. So much land, so little apparent interest in conservation. As always in Utah open space the degradation by livestock grazing was prevalent. There is not much complaint about I suspect due to what Grand Canyon Trust scientist Mary O’Brien terms, “normalized degradation.” In other words, we are used to it.
As we take these little let’s go see what we can see adventures Kirsten and I don’t manage to leave Torrey House Press completely behind. Perhaps we should, but this is the land we are doing the work for and ideas spring up. Later I started thinking that what we do at THP is to serve that two percent who care enough to give. Perhaps it is less than that two percent. Thinking in Venn diagram terms I wondered what percent gives to the arts and how big that circle would be compared to the circle who give to conservation. And what is the size of the overlap of those two circles? Kirsten and I thought, in the moment, that it would be fun to try and find out something about the overlap people, perhaps with poll on Facebook or the like.
Down the Allens Ranch road, over the Homansville Pass and back down into Eureka we were cruising through the Old West. Most of Eureka is in a sorry state, but it is not dead. Just close. Back on pavement we drove on to Lynndyl, out past the massive and isolated Intermountain Power Project and on into the West Desert and dirt road again. The good dirt road climbs over Thomas Pass revealing this almost salt flats stark part of the Basin and Range. The road merges with the old Pony Express Trail just a few miles east of Fish Springs where, subtly and covertly you move from the dryest of places into a wild-bird wetlands and refuge. No one is apparently there and there are obviously very few visitors. A family of mice lived in the paperless restroom. There was not an entry even every day in the visitor register.
We were a few weeks past the peak of the wild bird spring migration, but there was still a good show. A few of our snapshots are below.