21:00 T2k discussion

22:40 It started in 2015

Burke: I have no doubt in my mind that Trails 2000 has a tremendous impact on the city.

When people vote for a tax, they have an idea all this money is going for new things that werern’t happening otherwise.

The 25,000 dollars, that’s not a big chunk of change. This could be a slippery slope.

Metz: The ballot question does say that the fund can cover maintenance.

Marbury: It’s really an accounting procedure. It’s not something new and different from what I voted on. We’re talking about an accounting procedure. Our brains were on slow.

Smith: It’s been a long, long road to get to where we are now.

Metz: Before, we used to have a block grant. Trails 2000 certainly could’ve gone to United Way.

We used to have that block grant that was doled out by United Way, but that changed in 2015.

Smith: The city is now, as they have been before in a tight budget spot. Prior to 2015, you and I got sideways a couple times about whether we should do this.

Metz: I think that. They have the software that allows them to report how they spend that

Smith: One of the big motivators for the City coming to board is that the sales tax is flat. The sales tax that effects the fund is effecting us too.


Whiteman: Establish a line item of 25,000 that will be considered every year from the POST grant.

Metz: We could ask Trails 2000 for a report

Burke: I think we should approve the $25,000, because that’s what it was before. I think if you make it too variable, and ask for some justification.

Whiteman: My preference is to see the city staff evaluate the numbers. I think there’s a demonstrated need for them to provide the service.

Metz: In your mind, with this mind, is it the total that is going to come out of….

Whiteman: if they can demonstrate that there project is not explained in the scope, they can ask for further funds.

Smith: If some of the things that the city asks them to do requires them to purchase more materials.

Metz on motion 57:52

Whiteman: I would like to see this on FY 2015 and beyond.

Burke: Let staff evaluate the numbers, but I still think that they should come to us every year.


Through 1:02:07

Burke: I’ve been up in that area a lot. Horse GUlch Road. I think it would be good to address a lot of drainage issues up there. The grade of the road could be raised. 1:14:42, Stabilize channels going across the road. Fill in the ruts and gullies that are going across the road. The disturbed with should be narrowed.

Metz: Trails 2000 indicated that they are more interested in a single track experience instead of repairing the road. That’s more within their expertise. We’re going back to La Plata County, and I suspect that they are not willing or able to do that because of their financial situation.

Metz: we asked where Cap’s Trail comes back to the road, that they take work on the pitch points, the drainage, to make it emergency four wheel drive access up to Sugar Trail. We recommend that they not do a trail that’s close to the road.

Metz: they said they don’t have the equipment or expertise to work on that. They didn’t feel comfortable to do that.

Smith: We asked them to make the road accessible for a four-wheel drive vehicle, which isn’t that hard to do. 1:20:14

Hall: in terms of those erosion gullies, we need someone to take a closer look at the storm water runoff.

Smith: Trails 2000 and the city are both trying to do the same thing, in terms of providing recreational opportunities.

Whiteman: We don’t want to duplicate trails: 1:22:00

Marbury: 1:24:00 We spent $600,000 dollars to fix the road last time it washed out.

Whiteman: I share your disappointment.

Metz: We want to talk to the County of course, because it’s their road.

Burke: They put a lot of brush in gullies, and the sediment

Metz: there was too much going on, in a pretty tight area.

Whiteman: Our reasons for wanting the road fixed, are still there

Smith: This has not been good.

Pride weed control is the new contractor.

Posted by: Howell | July 8, 2012

Invasive thistle removal underway in Horse Gulch

When invasive thistles take root on land that you love and respect, you should take whatever action is needed to remove them and prevent a massive weed infestation from occurring there.

Removing Scotch and Musk thistle in Horse Gulch with a hand tool has been this blogger’s latest form of community service in trying to stem the growth of these nasty weeds and keep them from reproducing.

Scotch Thistle is an extremely aggressive reproducer and can grow up to 10 feet tall. Kill it.

After being given permission by Durango’s Parks and Cemetery Manager Ron Moore to remove the weeds, this blogger went up to the base of the meadow loop with a Rogue hand tool and dug up several dozen of them.

The site that I worked on had been grazed on by some domestic horses last winter. One might have even been shot maliciously. The mare that was shot, however, was found on adjacent private property, and not on the property where this thistle-removal project was occurring.

Someone let their horses overgraze this little piece of ground near the base of the Meadow Loop, and that’s where some scotch thistle was growing invasively.

Owned as City open space, the land where I worked became more prone to an invasion of weeds due to the fact that many of the native plants growing there had been previously eaten by the horses. Yes, over-grazing can make lands more susceptible to exotic weed species taking root there due to a lack of more prominent native plant populations existing there and the disturbance of micorhizal fungi populations in the soil.

This thistle-removal project will be ongoing and I’ll keep you updated as to the progress of my work to keep them in check.

A former boss of mine once told me that “sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.”

Today it was the rugged downhill of the Dutch Creek trail in the San Juan Mountains that ate my friend Jake’s mountain bike.

On a shuttle ride from the top of Dutch Creek trail to the lower Hermosa Creek trail head, Jake Walsh’s hard-tail, rigged 29er broke completely in half after a few creek crossings during the fast part of the descent.

It was an amusing moment, but not so much when Walsh had to hike 7 miles out of the backcountry with the bike on his shoulder–with clip-in shoes on his feet.


Jake Walsh, left and Tim Dion, right.


Jake Walsh, Tim Dion and this blogger held the lower bar in place with a stick inside the hollow tube. The top tube we splinted together with a spare tire, an aspen sapling and some zip ties. Walsh was able to walk and run with the bike for a little while, but ended up having to carry it out of for a large part of the trail due to the back tire wanting to go a different direction from the front tire.


Jake Walsh mourns the loss of his rigid Redline 29’er single speed in Dutch Creek on Saturday. Walsh ended up carrying the corpse of his bike out on his shoulder 7 miles to the lower Hermosa Creek trail head–in clip-in shoes.

A group of about 15 Trails 2000 volunteers cut back overgrown gamble oak, smoothed out rocky areas and installed water bars for erosion control on Telegraph Trail Wednesday afternoon.

Rallied by Trails 2000’s crew leader Daryl Crites, the group worked on the ascent up to the pass from 4  to 7 p.m. before being treated to some pizza at the base of the Meadow Loop.

This blogger applauded the effective usage of water bars on this project, yet disagreed with Crites in person on the volunteers’ smoothing out of more technical, rocky sections of the climb.

While Crites declined to go on the record about the City’s plan’s to reroute the lower part of Mike’s and Cuchillo Trail this summer, he did agree to do an interview at some point about the events that transpired during the run up to Noel Pautsky granting an easement for trail access across Oakridge Energy’s property back in the day. Crites’ story should be a hoot for those that have never heard it before.

Stay tuned for that story, and indulge in some pics from Telegraph Trail where this blogger helped cut some overgrown oak out with a few other trail builders from Trails 2000.

Jody Furtney and I worked on some overgrown oak at the bottom of Telegraph Trail Wednesday. Thanks for your hard work and fabulous smile, Jody!

Here’s one section that some volunteers smoothed out on Telegraph Trail.

This rocky section was smoothed out by some Trails 2000 volunteers.

This is one example of what I call trail pacification–making an intermediate level trail feature into one more suitable for beginner riders/runners/hikers.

This water bar was accentuated to help divert some of the rain runoff–good job.

This water bar was put in at the top of Telegraph Trail, right after the burly steep climb. Very effective. They put it in without smoothing over the trail. Thanks for leaving us a challenge at the top.

Durango’s Natural Lands, Trails and Sustainability Director Kevin Hall said at a meeting last week that the lower part of Cuchillo and Mike’s Trail are on the map for a possible reroute due to some problems with ruts caused by erosion that are similar to what was occurring on Stacy’s Loop.

One would hope that these intermediate trails that have built there reputation off of their ability to provide for fun downhill descents and banking turns will not be pacified and switchbacked under the guise of sustainable trail development.

This is a difficult climb going up Mike’s Trail. It’s rut makes it a challenge, but does not mean that it needs to be rerouted or switchbacked–it’s fairly benign in effect.

The rut shown on the right side of this image is minimal in scope and will have no detrimental, long-term impact to the landscape. If Cuchillo Trail is too difficult to ride or run on, then a more beginner-oriented trail would be recommended instead.

This rut caused by rain is minimal in scope and really accentuates the banking turn that it runs next to. If it’s too difficult for you to run on or ride your bike on, then find a beginner trail to ride on, or build one for yourself somewhere–but please don’t obstruct this one!

This is benign erosion caused by skidding bike tires.

A Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board member discouraged the preservation of Horse Gulch at the board’s meeting in the library last week.

Board member Ed Zink, the owner of Mountain Bike Specialists, spoke in favor of installing a bathroom in Horse Gulch and against the preservation of the natural lands there, in response to this blogger’s petition asking the board to manage the open-space lands of Horse Gulch in a more primitive manner.

Zink erroneously said that this blogger favors restricting or eliminating the access of people from Horse Gulch.

Cuchillo and Mikes Trail are raw and rugged with banking turns that are accentuated by some benign erosion effects. This blogger presented a petition to the Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board of Durango, asking them to save what’s left of ‘primitive’ in Horse Gulch.

“One of the things I kind of chuckle about sometimes, is people take a snapshot in time of the way things were when they first saw it, is how it ought to be,” said Zink. “And so we continually, year after year, we have discussions about keeping the Hermosa roadless, and don’t do anything in there, and don’t log it. But Missionary Ridge is ok, because when you all moved here, they had already logged Missionary Ridge. Really the two aren’t that much different, except that’s the way it was when you came here.”

“I think you’re falling into that a little bit,” Zink said to this blogger. “You have a vision of Horse Gulch, the way it was the first time you saw it, and you liked it. But you think it should stay that way forever.”

A vault-toilet bathroom does not make sense at the trail head to Horse Gulch due to there being no environmental need for it. A dumpster, on the other hand, would meet the demand that currently is overflowing out of this residential-sized can that’s allocated for people using Horse Gulch. Not to mention the piles of trash left behind by the local homeless population.

“I don’t think that’s what we ought to be doing here. I think we need to be managing this stuff and looking at this from the 30,000-foot view, not just trying to keep these snapshots in time, which is a bit like the river, when people say ‘I want my fishing hole left alone’,” he said.

“We can’t operate that way if we’re going to have this many people on earth,” said Zink.

This blogger would counter that the audio and visual solitude that Horse Gulch provides is a benefit to the human spirit and this community. Horse Gulch will be changing constantly, but the preemptive development of amenities (bathrooms) based on an overestimated demand for them is the ideology of a cancer cell.

In an effort to slow this tumorous cist of needless growth, this blogger drafted a petition to save primitive Horse Gulch, or more realistically, what’s left of its primitiveness. Signed by myself, six other locals, and a hundred or so people from around Colorado, the U.S. and the rest of the world, this petition was created in the context of the rerouting of Stacy’s Loop and the heavy-handed trail signage that’s been occurring there lately.

Most recently, an increasing amount of trail signage has been placed in Horse Gulch at numerous trail intersections. As part of the petition, this blogger asked the Board to keep trail and amenity signage in Horse Gulch to a minimum.


Two signs in Horse Gulch with the same map on each one, within feet of each other. Except the large one in the background has faded completely and currently serves no function.

“I’m not going to ask you to take all those small trail signs down that are all around the Gulch,” this blogger said. “But I’m just saying that I would hope that we could slow the progression, and slow this idea of progress and amenitization that feel like is being encouraged by the board. Like I said, I think there are certain places where people go to get away from those things.”

A dumpster for people to put their trash in at the trail head would make a lot more sense than a bathroom, given the demand and environmental need to preserve the natural and primitive character of Horse Gulch.

Board member Mark Smith said that the board is tasked with trying to put some reason in place with regard to the development of Horse Gulch.

“If people like you don’t say, hey wait a minute that’s too much, then sometimes we lose perspective,” said Smith. “You know. And things get done that maybe shouldn’t have been done. So that’s a good thing.”

“But you can’t expect that nothing’s going to be done, or that it’s going to be kept pristine, because it just isn’t pristine. It is not a pristine area. It’s a nice area. It’s beautiful. It’s proximate to all of us that live here. But I think you’re fooling yourself if you think you are going to put a bubble around it.”

Both Smith and Board member Connie Imig agreed with this blogger in saying that if amenities are built in Horse Gulch to remember a loved on by, that they should be made with materials found on the surrounding landscape, and not imported.

Blogger’s note: the identity of the road biker in this story will be defended and protected at all costs—of course I cannot recall her name! Her story, on the other hand, is laid out in detail from on-the-record interviews. For this story her pseudo name is Bonnie.

If you were riding your bike down the highway and a road flagger in a work zone told you that you could not pass with the rest of traffic because you were on a bike, you’d probably be pissed.

An unidentified flagger stands ready to stop, slow, or allow the passage of traffic in a work zone on US Highway 160 outside of Cortez. Refusing the passage of someone riding on a bicycle who has waited with the rest of traffic in a work zone is a class 3 misdemeanor criminal offense that’s punishable in a court of law. Would a state trooper enforce such an act of discrimination if given the opportunity?

Hopefully you would resist such an illegal roadblock with an act of civil disobedience.

That’s what Bonnie did this spring as she was riding westbound down US Highway 160 outside of Mancos while training for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic race.

Lucky for the future of humanity, Bonnie was smart enough to know her rights as a bicyclist and was brave enough to refuse the illegal roadblock that was intended to prevent her passage solely for the reason that she was riding a bike.

Originally stopped at the work zone with all the rest of traffic, Bonnie was confronted by a road flagger because she was about to ride her bicycle through the work zone.

The lady singled Bonnie out and told her that she could not pass through the work zone when all the other cars and vehicles were allowed to at the end of the wait.

“I think she was more concerned about my safety, because she made a comment of ‘we don’t want an angry motorist trying to take you out. They have to wait for you.’ The wait on both ends was pretty long,” said Bonnie. “You waited anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes during that time. I said to her, that’s ok, I’ll be fine.”

Whether the motorists were a danger to Bonnie or not, she had a place to go just the same as they did, and her training for the Iron Horse on a road bike was just as legal as it’s ever been.

Bonnie wasn’t going to take this discriminatory roadblock. She then told the flagger that she would ride at the end of the line of traffic once they were allowed to proceed as to ensure that no other vehicles could even approach her from behind.

The flagger lady then turned her back on her and talked to a supervisor on the handheld radio, Bonnie said.

“She turns around and says ‘listen, they just don’t feel that you should go through. Is there someone that can come pick you up?’ And I said no I’m riding through,” Bonnie said.

Image created by the administrator at Pachline.org.

“I said if this is going to become a problem then you guys can go ahead and call the cops,” Bonnie said. “Then she didn’t say anything more to me and I just rode through.”

According to Colorado state law, Bonnie’s defiant actions on her bicycle were legally justifiable.

Colorado Statute 42-4-603 only demands ‘obedience to official traffic control devices.’ A device was not used to demand and prohibit Bonnie from passing, as she said that the flagger had the ‘slow’ side of the sign facing her when she went through. Only the words of the flagger restricted her passage.

As for the flagger, Colorado Statute 18-9-107 prohibits the obstruction of a public highway as a criminal offense (class 3 misdemeanor) that is punishable in a court of law with a fine ranging from $50 to $750.

In this situation, if either the flagger or Bonnie had called the cops, a state trooper would respond. Both the flagger and the trooper would in all likelihood allow Bonnie to pass with the rest of traffic (after she waited there for a while to defend her rights as a bicyclist, most certainly). It is very unlikely, though, that a state trooper would actually enforce the law by punishing the flagger for refusing Bonnie’s passage in the first place.

Bonnie said that she thinks discrimination against bikers is part of the culture of Cortez rearing its head on the public highways.

“You know it’s just a different environment over here, when it comes to bikers in Cortez. Most of the community is not very supportive of bikers, and they could care less whether there’s a biker on the side of the road or not,” said Bonnie. “It’s not like Durango, where biking there is looked upon as a positive thing. In Cortez it’s looked upon as more of a pain in the ass, that you know we just have to deal with bikers.

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Regional Public Relations Director Nancy Shanks replied to this blogger’s inquiries in a comment below.

Posted by: Howell | April 22, 2012

Petition against US 550/ Bridge to Nowhere connection

Now is the time to sign the petition calling for Colorado Department of Transportation officials to avoid scarring the rural character of La Plata County with a US Highway 550 road connection at the Bridge to Nowhere.

When public officials refuse to admit responsibility and contrition for the squandering of millions on a project that’s justified through over-inflated engineering data, they are corrupt. When public officials plan on decimating the landscape and rural character of our community when other more reasonable options exist, they are corrupt.

The visual impacts that connecting US Highway 550 to the Bridge to Nowhere would have are staggering yet completely absent from any wording in the Colorado Department of Transportation's first so-called Environmental Impact Statement.

Corruption must be met with resistance and justice. We can resist by advocating for what’s right. I’m not sure how justice should be served.

The Bridge to Nowhere has become the centerpiece of a regional dumb-growth strategy. Its justification was based on over-inflated demographic and traffic growth projections that were calculated with convoluted, arbitrary, illogical and inexplicable mathematical formulas.

The Bridge to Nowhere was preemptively constructed without a necessary easement in place before hand. After construction was started without the easement needed to access the Bridge to Nowhere, the CDOT justified the bridge for having “independent utility” outside of its original intention of connecting US Highway 550 to US Highway 160. It is currently only utilized by those on the south side of US 160 who have been forced to, after CDOT put a guardrail barrier in the middle of US 160, and those doing u-turns. This project has shown us how the sled was put before the dogs, and planning was skipped altogether while CDOT mushed away with our tax dollars!

How does CDOT continue to pretend it was a success while refusing to admit to their obvious mistakes in planning this project? Their straight-faced public relations cheerleading is a joke, right?

I wish it was only a joke, but it’s not.

This is where US 550 connects with US 160 at Farmington Hill.

Please rethink the long-term environmental consequences of these lapses in planning and what the excavation of more than 30 million tons of dirt, rock and vegetation from the end of Florida Mesa would look like on this rural landscape. Even more, please give the modifications of the existing alignment on Farmington Hill a chance in the future of connecting US 550 to US 160.

Sign the petition to hold CDOT officials accountable for this fleecing of taxpayers HERE.

Reefer Madness is a sensationalist, exploitation film of the 1930’s that exemplifies many of the fear-driven, propagandist deceptions about marijuana that continues to permeate culture and public opinion in America to this day.

On the ballot in Colorado this November, registered voters will have the opportunity to burn and bury many of these exaggerations and grow the seeds of change out of the dishonest, nitrogen-bearing properties of this corpse known as marijuana prohibition.

Among the list of  myths about marijuana that Colorado voters and this campaign will successfully debunk in the public’s psyche by this November:

Vote yes on Amendment 64 this November to help reduce the harm associated with marijuana prohibition. Image borrowed from marijuana-photos.info.

Yes, we can help put these falsehoods to rest and approve Amendment 64, the Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

The Amendment will legalize marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older, and will establish a system in which it is regulated and taxed similar to alcohol.

It will legalize the possession of up to an ounce and the growing of up to six plants as is currently allowed for Colorado’s medical marijuana patients.

Amendment 64 will legalize the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp as a means of boosting our agricultural, economic and environmental sustainability.

Additionally, Amendment 64 will funnel the first 40 million dollars in sales-tax revenue to the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund. This revenue will be produced through the enactment of an excise tax on the wholesale sale of non-medical marijuana at the point of transfer from a cultivation facility to a retail store or manufacturing facility.

Current Colorado medical marijuana provisions would remain unaffected.

In reality, marijuana has a wide range of medical applications, its use as a recreational drug is safer than alcohol, and it has not been shown to cause long-term cognitive impairment. Also, its brother hemp can be used to make clothing as one of the strongest natural fibers in the world.

Read more about Amendment 64 at Regulatemarijuana.org.

Register to vote HERE so that you can help enact this crucial drug-policy reform.

Have a happy 420 and please help spread the word about Amendment 64!

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