Beautiful fall day in Hunter Canyon.
The true chill of winter has finally hit Western Colorado after a full fall in CEC’s West Slope field office. Since August 27th we’ve hosted a series of adventures into our big backyard, exploring many of our region’s Wilderness Study and Wilderness Proposal sites. The outings drew an array of savvy hikers, from ages 17 to 70, who got a chance to see the nooks and crannies of the Grand Valley and beyond.
The explorations were an intimate opportunity to learn more about the process of conservation on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The passage of the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) in 1975 directed BLM to identify Wilderness Study Areas (WSA), which encouraged involved community members to supplement the BLM’s efforts by mapping additional special places and identifying Citizen Wilderness Proposals (CWP). From there, conservation organizations (such as CEC) have pushed for permanent protections for these lands by having them legislatively designated as Wilderness Areas or National Conservation Areas (NCA). Today there remains a network of Colorado Canyon Country Wilderness Proposal Areas (CCCWP) that are being tracked for the possibility of conservation designation. During the West Slope Fall Hiking Series we visited a number of them and finished with a trek through our favorite local NCA.
Waiting on Trial with a rollicking set. (Jolynne Woodcock)
The Grand Valley’s expansive desert geography offers refuge for a variety of endeavors. The resource-rich landscape is dotted with oil and gas leases in an ever growing and controversial exploration. In the same setting you’ll find dinosaur quarries, renowned mountain biking, excellent off-season hiking, and endless routes for off-road vehicle use. To the west the Colorado National Monument awes thousands of out-of-state visitors every year, and at the far east end of the valley sits the quaint town of Palisade. In Palisade you’ll find a bounty of agriculture, including proud peaches and vibrant vineyards. With this being the season of harvest, Colorado Environmental Coalition decided this would the perfect setting for our new and improved fall fundraiser, the Harvest Hoedown.
Somehow half of the summer has floated by like the swelling currents of the Colorado River, and it has felt like it’s moved just as fast. Here in the West Slope Field Office, we kicked off the season with our much anticipated 4th Annual BBQ. It was a smashing success with beautiful summer evening weather, the sounds of great music from Flat Top Reed, and the gathering of over 140 high-spirited supporters from our community. Thanks to all of our sponsors for making the event happen and thanks to all of you who attended.
Our excellent volunteer Carson and CEC staffer Petrika at the Palisade Bluegrass Festival.
The following weekend we made a memorable presence at the Palisade Bluegrass Festival with a mandolin giveaway. The three days of CEC outreach were highlighted by handing the brand new mando, from Hart Music, over to drawing winner Frank Rose. Big thanks to the volunteers who helped hold down the fort at the event!
The following week’s big outing was the CEC staff retreat in Gateway. The West Slope Crew hosted the gathering and it was a great opportunity to show off the beauty of the Norther Dolores and highlight the work Kate and FOND are doing to preserve the wildness of the area. We wrapped up June by setting up at the bustling Grand Junction Farmers Market on a sweltering Thursday night. Encouraging exchanges with some of our community members made being part of the weekly event worthwhile.
Organic produce growing at Cameron Place CSA
Spring is in full swing here in the Grand Valley. Very wet weather followed by warm sunny days has awakened the plants and pollinators. Many of the fruit trees have blossomed and sprouted leaves. Gardeners are working hard to prep soil and plant seeds. Grand Junction’s downtown community, with the help of the Cameron Place CSA, has dug-in to revive the Community Garden after its winter hibernation. The anticipation of the first batch of cherries is bringing enthusiastic contemplation and the first fresh salads are mere weeks away.
At this year’s MOG (Manufacturers of Outdoor Gear) Fest last Saturday we both raised the bar and climbed the ladder in taking outreach on the Western Slope to new heights! With A-Team caliber planning, improvising, and teamwork we endured the imminent darkness of western skies, fierce winds and stout rain, to stand tall and dry under white clouds and sunshine as advocates for our outstanding public landscapes.