America is back. It was not the landslide victory for democracy that polls misled us once again to expect. (Just shoot me if I ever again read a poll.) But we have a decent, experienced, sane President-elect Biden, and thrillingly, we finally have a very exciting and gifted woman and a minority in Vice President-elect Harris. After having a sociopath as president for these four excruciating years, just returning to normal will be such a tremendous relief and improvement.Continue reading
I used to downhill ski frequently. Not like a season pass holder, but 20 times a season or so. I’m in my 60’s now and have not skied for a year. But some of my long time ski buddies came to town, guys I first started skiing with in college, and I told them I would join them on the mountain today. They suggested we meet in the parking lot at Park City resort’s plaza at 7:15 AM and find a place for breakfast. They also needed to rent skis. When I asked why so early they said they were concerned about traffic. I thought, well, they are from California and don’t realize it is not as crowded here in Utah. I suggested I would meet them in the ticket line at 8:45, 15 minutes before the lifts open. Plans made.
Kirsten and drove the A6 to Truckee and then on to Napa and Pt. Reyes leaving Saturday March 28 and back to Salt Lake the next Friday. Kirsten was meeting with our latest author, Sasha Paulsen for an editing session on Dancing on the Spider’s Web. Now back in SLC I notice that I did not take many photos and did not take any notes. Thinking about it I decided to combine this blog with my previous entries from THP Green Adventures and change the site title here to Notes and Shots. I will use it both as a travel and conservation journal in the blog and a place to keep my best photos in the galleries. That way I can feel more free to take notes and shots without thinking they need to be interesting and good enough for National Geographic. Even though I will make the site available to the public I think of the audience as my kids, Kristen and Nick, my uncle, Ted Kehl, and maybe my grand-kids some day. Hi guys.
Truckee was conspicuous with the absence of snow. No shots, but resorts that look like they should be closed with mostly dirt showing still have skiers working their way down presumably man made snow ribbons. California’s Gov. Brown ordered mandatory water use reductions for the first time in the state’s history while we were there. Residents are required to cut back, but big farms, which use 80% of the water, are only required to write reports — but that may be another blog.
In Napa we continued with my suggestion that Kirsten find us nice places to stay and not tell me what they cost. Works in the short run, time will tell about the finances. We had dinner that night with Sasha and her adult daughter Ariel at an equally elegant place nearby. The food in Marin county is nonstop amazing. I was thinking that I would throttle back while away from the fridge, but not-so-much.
On Monday we met up in Petaluma with Lise Soloman, our Torrey House Consortium sales rep with Karel/Dutton Group, and drove up to Sebastopol to have lunch with Sheryl Cotleur, the adult book buyer for Copperfield’s Books. Both women are a forces in books sales. Lise is credited by author Paul Harding as the impetus behind his winning a Pulitzer for his debut novel Tinkers. Tinkers was published by a sister publisher at Consortium, Bellevue Literary Press. Kirsten and I always say the best thing about publishing is the people and with women like these two out there we will keep saying it. At one point during lunch I told Sheryl about how our author Mary Sojourner feels no hope about the West and conservation. Mary gave that response when asked about Stegner’s phrase, “The geography of hope.” I told Sheryl how Mary thinks writing about nature and the West is dead and wondered if she agreed. Sheryl sat back and said she “100 percent” did not agree. She encouraged us to keep going and started telling us we needed to meet Steve Costa and Kate Levinson, owners of Pt. Reyes Books and asked if we had ever been there. In fact, that is where we were going next anyway.
Kirsten had already made another excellent arrangement at a B&B in the small town of Inverness in Pt. Reyes. We poked our heads in the bookstore but Steve and Kate were out. Fabulously, Sheryl and Lise had forewarned them we were heading their way. Kirsten left a card at the bookstore and Steve and Kate got back to her asking us to please come by. When we showed up the next day they interrupted some poor sales rep’s pitch to say hello, suggested that we should have dinner together, and even insisted that we should do so at their home and stay with them. There goes those great publishing people again. The Bailey in me was appalled at the imposition, but of course it all turned out great. I hope somehow we can return the favor with a stay in Torrey.
At dinner with Kate and Steve we asked them a lot of questions about their biannual conference. It seemed natural that Terry Tempest Williams had been involved in the area for some time including with the conference. The most recent called The 2015 Geography of Hope Conference after Wallace Stegner’s phrase in his Wilderness Letter — major sections of which were read at Kirsten’s and my wedding. Kate and Steve were our kind of nice, smart people but way, way ahead of us in the world of connections and conferences. Kate encouraged us to stay regional if we try a conference and perhaps to consider starting with just the LDS enviro authors we are interested in supporting.
Point Reyes was astonishing. On the last morning, April 2, a day before my brother’s would be birthday, at sunrise on Shell Beach near Steven and Kate’s place I was overwhelmed by the beauty and the loss of Mike. Mike, the world is beautiful, it is worth protecting, and I wish you were here to help.
Spring is here and my wife, Kirsten, and I are poking our heads out more and looking into environmental issues. In fact, it has felt like March in Utah since early February and it is good to get out. In addition my son, Nick, has been interning for Wild Utah Project and WildEarth Guardians, both environmental agencies. Kirsten hiked the Calf Creek Falls trail on Monday with her sister and two nephews strapped to their backs. Nick made a run down to Moab a couple of weeks ago to visit with the Forest Service, Wild Utah Project and the Grand Canyon Trust about exotic mountain goats recently plunked down on the La Sals.
Kirsten was impressed at the amount of beaver activity in the stream along her hike. Beaver are, of course, the original and best stream managers. For years the folks at Grand Canyon Trust have been trying to get beaver re-introduced on Boulder Mountain and the surrounding forests. But ranchers think beavers somehow steal water and the Garfield County Commissioners, all ranchers, wrote a letter of protest to the Forest Service vehemently protesting any beaver re-intoduction in their county. County commissioners have amazing amount of political clout and the Forest Service folks deny them at risk of their jobs. So Kirsten was surprised to see so much beaver activity. She described dam after dam, wide and open and lush riparian areas big enough that migrating ducks were landing. Our guess is that the BLM, the land managers in this case, have too much pressure from the national public at this popular spot to allow the commissioners to have their way. Much like the forests around the Wasatch Front do not allow livestock grazing because the public would never put up with the damage.
Nick went down to Moab to visit with the Forest Service about the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ (DWR) introduction of mountain goats on to the La Sal Mountains last fall. There were no mountain goats in Utah when the pioneers arrived, and all current populations in the state were transplanted from other places. The La Sal’s have special wilderness zones established for scientists, like those at Wild Utah Project, the Grand Canyon Trust and the Forest Service, to study the effects of climate change. Goats, as we know, eat everything and the scientists are duly concerned. DWR is often accused of “trophy farming” and put the goats up on the mountain in defiance of current memorandums of understanding with other existing land management agencies, such as the Forest Service, in a unilateral decision to please hunters, their primary special interest constituency.
More on captured agencies and these issues as the year unfolds.
I like this idea of Kirk Johnson’s of the Green blog at the New York Times. The fragile Colorado Plateau acting as canary in the coal mine. It doesn’t take a dust storm in Arizona to notice that the air is always hazier on the Plateau than it was even 10 years ago. So few people live on the Plateau that man made haze here is a sign of illness elsewhere. …more>>
The Colorado River does not make it to the sea. It’s all used up 70 miles before it gets there, leaving the Colorado River Delta parched. Over 75 percent of the water extracted goes to agriculture. Whenever something about water use comes up in the press, watering lawns always comes up. That is the wrong grass. It’s not lawns draining the river, it’s hay. Buying up the virtual property right of water rights from farmers and ranchers is called “water ranching.” I’ll try to find more on that in the future. In the meanwhile, here’s a piece from the New York Times on the river, and another interesting blog from a recent author on the subject, Jonathan Waterman (great name.)
Conservatives originally proposed that markets could help correct mans impact on the environment. Just get the cost of environmental degradation included in the cost of production. According to Steve Zwick at Forbes, the idea had some traction until the whole conservative movement “went collectively insane.” . . . more>>
In my last blog I noted how the air is almost always hazy in the West these days, even in open space hundreds of miles away from urban areas. One of the reasons I notice this is that I am a private pilot and and you notice haze more from up there. The Grand Canyon Trust just posted a piece on a pilots group out of Aspen that takes advantage of their general aviation planes to show the conservation issues facing national parks in the Southwest to folks, particularly students, from the air. Cool. It’s part of what is called EcoFlight’s Flight Across America. . . . more>>
I was at a star gazing party in southern Utah recently and met a businessman my age as he showed me around his telescope setup. As we got to know each other it turned out this guy, who seemed otherwise a lot like me, was a climate change denier. He told me his reasons and I listened. He was pretty sure of himself. The only notion that seemed to set him back was the observation that the air around Capitol Reef National Park, air that used to be so clear there were view point signs touting it (150 miles visibility used to be), is now almost always hazy. He had noticed that too. Here, William Anderson, chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes in southeastern Nevada, talks about the external cost of air pollution and benefits of clean air, that is the externalities that don’t show up on a balance sheet or income statement but are real none the less, in this concise entry from Writers on the Range. . . .more>>
I found this debate in The Economist to be a terrific, brainy way to get a review of how we got to where we are today on our sense of the value of wilderness. The best points I thought were made by “featured guest” contributors that centered on the relatively poor results environmentalists achieve when they take a no compromise position. Michael Shellenberger & Ted Nordhaus make the lucid point that,
Ignoring those questions (of how to manage development), and engaging in romantic visions that such a world can be sustained through small-is-beautiful projects, imperils the effort to produce a beautiful and healthy planet more than any corporation or government.
It is surprising to me that readers of The Economist would be so profoundly in favor of the notion that:
This house believes that untouched wildernesses have a value beyond the resources and other utility that can be extracted from them.