Kristen Lodge – "This Land Was Made For You and Me"
November 19, 2009
In an effort to learn about the land I recreate on, last week my outdoor adventures went inside to John Fielder’s slide show and the Grand County Wilderness Groups Annual Dinner.
What an education I received at the John Fielder slide show. Fielder talked about the importance of conserving land from a ranching and an activist’s perspective. The book, Ranches of Colorado, celebrates ranching, its heritage, and its future. Fielder’s slideshow showcased photographs of the four areas of Colorado: plains, Rocky Mountains, Western Slope and foothills with music accompaniment from Aaron Copland including “Appalachian Spring” and “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Copland is known for representing music of the rustic frontier; how appropriate for this presentation on ranching. When “Appalachian Spring” played to the opening slide show, the woman sitting behind me exclaimed, “This is my favorite classical music.”
I sat in the Middle Park High School auditorium in awe of the beautiful ranches and Fielder’s knowledge of every Colorado river and mountain range he visited. He spoke with no notes while telling stories about the ranches and ranchers. He even gave photography tips: shoot in the morning and early evening. The evening should’ve been titled: An Evening with Land Advocate, John Fielder. He educated the audience about how ranching and farming contribute to a sustainable economy. He explained conservation easements and how they protect ranches from being subdivided and developed, and how they are a tax advantage.
Fielder told the story of a fellow board member and rancher in northwest Colorado. In board meetings they disagreed on every issue. When Fielder called this man to ask him if he could photograph his ranch, he never returned calls. Fielder made one last effort and somehow talked the rancher into agreeing to be part of the book. Fielder went to the ranch for three days. He told us they came to really like each other and discovered they were very much alike.
In all, Fielder photographed 50 Colorado ranches; many now protected from development. Additionally, he partnered with land trust communities across Colorado including Middle Park Land Trust in Grand County to help protect ranches from development everywhere. It was a night of education and beauty. About one-third of proceeds from the book sales went to the Middle Park Land Trust.
The next evening I attended the Grand County Wilderness Group’s biannual meeting. After the mingling, meeting members, and eating a delicious potluck buffet, John Monkouski from the BLM office in Kremmling spoke about revising their Resource Management Plans, which will affect closures that will concern the public. He told us there will be limits to hunting, fishing, and trails. The decisions made will affect recreation on BLM land in Grand County for the next 15-20 years. He told us the public is welcome to comment on this plan. According the BLM Web site, “There is still ample opportunity to review, participate in public meetings, and provide comments following release of the upcoming Draft RMP. To get involved contact Dennis Gale 970- 724-3003.”
John’s presentation included a map of BLM land in Grand County and I noticed an area marked, Troublesome WSA north of Kremmling; a wilderness study area. I asked John, via email, for more information about The Troublesome WSA. He writes that it is an area managed under the Interim Policy For Lands Under Wilderness Review. It’s an area being considered for wilderness designation. I’ll be watching and paying attention to what happens to this area.
If the public truly has a say in changes to recreation plans and water diversion projects, I want to make an educated comment on it so I’m going to keep asking questions until I understand it all. As newcomer to Colorado and the West, I want to know and learn everything about the issues that face our state that has so much public land. I want to know about everything that affects the future of land, water, and wildlife in this gorgeous place I call home. I hope to see you at the public hearing at the Inn at SilverCreek on December 2 to talk about water.
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