UP BEAR CREEK | What’s a Carbon Ranch?

08/18/14 | By | More

COURTNEY WHITE … For years I’ve been following my former Sierra Club friend Courtney as he’s pulled together savvy ranchers, range innovators, environmental crusaders, biological wizards, and a host of disparate rural leaders to form one of the nation’s most unique forums for New Ag talkers and doers – the Quivira Coalition. His 2008 book, Revolution on the Range: The Rise of a New Ranch in the American West (Island Press) was a series of informative case studies of ranches where conflict had given way to collaboration. Examples where solutions had been found in the Radical Middle. Durango’s own David James, who sells his products at the Telluride Farmer’s Market and has pasture in San Miguel County, was one of the featured vignettes in that book … White’s latest book is co-authored with Michael Pollan, Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country (2014) … Because San Miguel County is studying a Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) project involving carbon ranching, we’ve invited Courtney up to discuss the concept – as in perhaps offsetting the carbon footprint of East End industrial tourism by supporting carbon-sequestering ranch practices in the West End with direct financial payments. As White responded in a recent interview in the June issue of Resilience magazine, “Everybody loves a good story, and in a good story there’s almost always a bad guy. Climate change is a complex, difficult story to tell and it helps a lot if there’s a clear bad guy to target, in this case carbon dioxide and the corporations and industrial activities that produce it. It’s an effective strategy – and one that makes a great deal of sense – but it has the unfortunate side effect of tarring all carbon with a negative image. In reality, as I say over and over in the book, carbon is a good guy – the essential element of life, in fact. By stigmatizing carbon, however, we overlook its vast potential to do good – and not just in the climate context. Increasing the carbon content of our soils can sustainably increase our capacity to produce more food, retain more water in the ground, and sequester carbon dioxide” … If you want to hear Courtney here in San Miguel County you have two chances. At noon today, Thursday, Aug. 21, he’ll give a presentation at the Wilkinson Library at noon. Then he’ll journey down to Norwood to the Norwood Community Center tonight to speak at 7 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

DMV DEBACLE … You have to love the chutzpah of the state of Colorado. First, our friend Gov. Ritter ups the automobile registration fees and makes us pay more for the same service. And then Gov. Hickenlooper pulls the plug on staffers, so that service at the state Dept. of Motor Vehicles is severely affected … I don’t need to go into every detail of my own personal nightmare trying to get my son a driver’s test and license last week. But I discovered a few things … In order to make an appointment at the Cortez or Montrose DMV office, I had to call Denver. I couldn’t make an appointment in Cortez in person (though I tried) … As it happened, I had to call Denver three times. First, I got put on hold for 15 minutes and then the office closed at 5 p.m. and my phone went dead. The second time I got put on hold for 30 minutes and had a nice person explain there were only two operators for the entire state (clearly state registration fee hikes didn’t go here). The third time I waited 45 minutes and a very nice person explained that there was only one operator on duty for the whole state. By that time the soonest my boy could take a driving test in Montrose or Delta was Sept. 9 … The upshot of Denver appointments and the long wait for service was that no one ever calls back to cancel an appointment and so lots of dropped appointments mean employees twiddling their thumbs. A crazy system … However, the kindly woman/lone operator told me that I didn’t have to use the state driving testers to take a driving test. I could use private testers? That was news to me … Luckily, my son Gorio and I did just that.

DEBBIE LEVERETT … So, after getting refused a driving test by a completely idle DMV employee in Cortez who was earlier precluded from making an appointment with me face to face, Gorio and I ended up in Montrose that same afternoon at the offices of Western Slope Driving Institute where Debbie was manager. She was most helpful. Did the paperwork carefully. Took Gorio for a quick test. And what was going to take the state several weeks, interminable phone calls, and another appointment to get done, got done by the private sector in a speedy half-hour. Plenty of time to make it over to the Montrose DMV office before they closed, and Gorio got his license … If you want to avoid one of the state’s most underfunded programs at it worst, consider booking your driving test through Debbie. 970/254-1294 … You’ll be glad you did.

PROOF OF RESIDENCE … Here’s another wonderful catch-22. The state’s DMV now requires proof of residence. And mail to your post office box doesn’t count. Even though, in Norwood, a post office box is you only official resident address, since the Postal Service doesn’t deliver to street addresses, nor will it deliver mail to street addresses. According to the Feds, your post office box is your official residential address … But Colorado doesn’t recognize that. So, before you head to the driver’s license office, be sure to find some official paper that lists your street address, or you won’t get serviced.




Guest and Host Are

Clearly Distinguishable


-for Grease Boy


Went to see Old Bill yesterday

Filled with humble pie I told him

how we stopped to help a turtle

across Tyler-Foote Road.


“Knew a fella’ once

Lived over in San Juan

Folks called him Lucky

One day he stopped to help

a turtle across the rod

Got run down by a loggin’ truck

They gave him a fancy funeral

But you’d best be careful.”


True nature is clear and obvious

Just don’t ask for an explanation


-Steve Sanfield

Sierra Foothills

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Category: Commentary, Opinion, Up Bear Creek

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