Local actions needed to help save
declining bees & Monarch butterflies
MORE QUIVIRA … Scott Black is on a mission. He wants to save the Monarch butterfly. As a professional ecologist and head of the Xerces Society, he’s really worried about this imperiled species, as well as the rapid decline in bees. The numbers are very disturbing. Where once there were millions of migrating Monarchs, even just a few years ago, their current numbers are crashing. And he thinks farmers and ranchers and counties like ours can help … While native flowers of all types are important nectar sources for all bees and butterflies, and getting more plantings of native plants is an important factor in trying to preserve these insect species so beneficial to humans, it’s milkweed that’s the critical plant for Monarchs (Asclepias spp.). But farmers and ranchers don’t like milkweed, since several species can be toxic to cows and sheep. And it’s especially dangerous in hay. But out in the field, Scott says that it is unpalatable and poisonings are rare, and usually only when animals are concentrated where there is little other feed … Which is why he’s a big fan of turning state and county roadsides into areas for growing native plants and milkweed. A graduate of Colorado State University and a 2011 honored alumnus, he’s interested in coming to Telluride and Norwood to talk about how San Miguel County might join in the national initiative to save the Monarch. Stay tuned.
GUMBAH … That was our slang Dago name for each other. As crazy counter-cultural hippie beatnik bohemian writers – he the aspiring novelist and me the maverick street poet -- in the wild milieu that was San Francisco in the Sixties and Seventies, Steve Clark was my buddy. We walked the brazen night streets of North Beach, climbed Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower and drank wine on the sly, dropped acid hiking in Mt. Tamalpais, got snowed on camping in the backwoods of Big Sur. The list of adventures goes on and on … And even in later life, as he married a wonderful woman, had a lovely family, and settled into a respectable high school English teacher’s job in Skagit County, Washington, while living in Anacortes on Fidalgo in the San Juan Islands, we kept in touch. Extravagant letters. Long phone calls. Occasional visits. Even a five-day backpack a couple years ago along California’s Lost Coast from Petrolia to Shelter Cove – one of those fabulous hikes we’d both had on our bucket lists. And afterwards, alone under the majesty of thousand-year-old redwoods in Richardson Grove (California budget cuts having closed the state park to all tourists except us), we stood on a picnic table and declaimed wild poetry to the swaying of the giants in the mountain breeze … Our adventures were legion. And Steve was the greatest of mimics. His comic sense was finely tuned. His observations lucid and penetrating. He’d read excerpts of great writers in full theatrical flourish regardless of where we were – rapid transit, pine forests, blue highways, urban coffeehouses. And he was always jotting notes in his journals – dozens and dozens of them over the years … Two weeks ago his stepson called to tell me his cancer had taken a turn for the worse. The docs had only given him a month or two. I’m flying up there this weekend. It may be too late to hug that fine fellow and shout together at the top of our lungs. He’s fading fast. But I’m hoping I have a chance to touch his hand one last time. To feel the fire of that fierce spirit that showed me what it means to be a full-on man, a devoted friend and a lover of this amazing life.
BLACK CANYON … If you haven’t heard of the Black Canyon Regional Land Trust, now’s the time to learn what a great job they’ve been doing conserving private lands on the Western Slope through conservation easements. With almost 300 easements in their portfolio covering over 51,000 acres of lands with outstanding ag and natural values in Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray, Delta, Gunnison and Mesa counties, they’re a local institution … But it takes more than than mere purchasing to maintain those lands. BCRLT has to provide the stewardship and monitoring of all those properties on an annual basis. So, my old friend and botanist Peggy Lyon is calling for all conservation easement enthusiasts to consider a donation on Colorado Gives Day, Dec. 8th, where your donations will be matched by an incentive fund provided by the Community First Foundation and FirstBank … As Peggy says, “Your contribution will help family farmers and ranchers continue working their lands – often lands that have been passed down for several generations; will protect native plants and animals; and will keep iconic scenic corridors unobstructed. For every $30 that you donate, the Land Trust can protect an acre of land – forever” … Give online at <www.bcrilt.org> and if you do, make it for Peggy’s fundraising team – the Clay-loving Buckwheat Bandits.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES … One of those ugly CDOT electronic billboards on Dallas Divide must have had a malfunction the other day. It read: “Wildlife Migration. Drive With Cars” … I love the new hand-lettered sign at the beauty parlor coming into Norwood. It reads: “Bangs are the Moustache of the Forehead.”
POTPOURRI … Cheap Gas. Santa Domingo Pueblo took the cake on my trip to Burque two weeks ago with roll-back prices reminiscent of a couple decades ago. $179.9 per gallon … Whistle Pig, Rifle’s Coffee Stop & Café at 121 E. 3rd St. was a lovely surprise on my way up to Meeker couple months back. I know most younger folks (like my kids) don’t like to go searching willy-nilly for good eats. Rather than serendipity’s hit & miss, they favor the tried & true verification of social media’s Yelp (and other smartphone apps) to locate an eatery with good reviews.
THE TALKING GOURD
with a thunderstorm—
tucking my son into bed
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Poet Laureate of the Western Slope