Monday, August 12, 2013

I thought for at least one of these entries I would discuss a topic that does not directly relate to water….Unfortunately there really is not a whole lot that doesn’t relate, but there are a few files that discuss mining impacts on water that I thought interesting to read.  Also, abandoned mines are scattered all over this valley, acting as pollution sources to our rivers, and therefore it is an important set of files to bring attention to.  Let’s face it, these mines make up a very important part of the history of the area, but we certainly known their safety standards were not up to par with having this many people live in the area.  This file discusses just some of the major mines that were pollution problem sources throughout the Valley.  This is of course also the location of the information regarding the famous Mt. Emmons or as it is commonly referred to “Red Lady”

Red Lady is not the file that I find the most interesting though. If you guide yourself to the file that contains information on the Standard Mine, this is where the interesting information is contained.  For those familiar with the term Superfund, this mine is one that was put on the list to be cleaned up using the Superfund.  The Superfund was established after the Love Canal incident took place in Niagara Falls, New York.  It was established as a way to clean up serious environmental threats, usually ones that can threaten human health as well.  Perhaps comparing the Love Canal incident to cleaning up the Standard Mine is a little extreme, but it is enough to make this one stick in my mind real well.  I have also taken frequent trips to this area for hiking and rock hounding so it was already very familiar to me. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The next file set that I found interesting was the files that pertained to the Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program.  As a fisherman myself it was good for me to get to see the fish that are endangered in the Colorado River just in case I ever ran across them.  More importantly, it was good to see that they Recovery Program was so well organized and popular.  I had assumed this was only a sate-wide effort, however it is much more of an effort enforced by the entire river basin.

The important section to our Valley is the one that pertains to the Dallas and Dolores Creek endangered fish.  Earlier I had discussed that there was not a lot of public information present since our area is not very popular or populated. This is a prime example of some key information that may be difficult to find elsewhere.  Neither of these areas are heavily visited or studied, but since there is information available it opens the door for further study especially when utilized in an academic environment.  Enough talking, I will let you dive in and see what you can come up with. I am off to see some fish for myself….

Another File that I already mentioned but found to be extremely interesting and useful is the compilation of files titled Cloud Seeding. There are files for each year from before 2002 to 2007. Currently there still remain small efforts to have private cloud seeding projects in the Valley, but after reading through many of these files, I can see why the concept needs more development to continue in the Valley. 

A good portion of the files that make up this chunk are simple emails discussing cloud seeding activity in the area.  At first glimpse these seem meaningless and excessive because generally they are short and there is A LOT of them in each section. However after getting a chance to read through all these a pattern began to emerge that seemed a bit unsettling.  After each winter storm was seeded, often times there still would not be a drastic change in the amount of snowfall.  Once and a while they would be able to report a couple inches extra, but most of the time they would see no change or the storm would not be acceptable to seed for one reason or another. 

This was also an interesting topic because it is one that I had heard a lot about throughout my time spent in the classroom at Western.  In these folders you can also find very useful articles and designs for how these seeding projects took place.  Again a lot of the designs for the seeding devices looked a little outdated, for instance they use devices that release the silver iodide from the ground rather than current trends that use planes to deliver the dose.  However, it does give an interesting look into how cloud seeding has developed through the years.  Perhaps we can expect to see more new developments to increase the effectiveness of this process. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

On a rainy day like today, I can’t help but think about the amount of water that we have in the Valley.  With this being such a wet summer and winter, it is obviously doing wonders to the water supply that was destroyed by the previous two years.  Obviously the UGRWCD has kept pretty key information about the water supply in our area, but there is a slight disturbing trend to be seen in these files.  While there is currently enough water to satisfy most of the water rights in the valley, there is a water rights system in place for a reason.  UGRWCD and other conservancy districts have documents that they produce each year that measure the projected depletions for certain water rights.  These kind of documents are very apparent throughout the Water Supply category, which just goes to show real proof of the fact that no everyone gets water each year or for the entire year. 

The documents on water supply also have interesting information in the form of data sheets.  While these are very long and sometimes impossible to even understand, the summaries are where the real information lies.  In here we can see rain and snow summaries for each month depending on the year.  This section also shows that water rights system in action.  I have learned a lot about how the system works, but it is interesting to be able to read through these documents and see what it is we were talking about.  This also continues into the thousands of applications present in the website, but that is something that we will have to discuss in another topic.

Damn the Cement Creek Dam!

Blog Number 5

Now that we have cleared up any confusion on what the categories contain, the next step is to dive into some specific topics that interested me and that have the potential to be resources for my final paper.  While I am still a little fuzzy on what the overall theme of the paper will be, I am hoping that by reflecting on some of these interesting documents I will obtain a working outline for the final product or products.

The first interesting topic that struck me personally and was prevalent consistently throughout the project was the conflict of developing areas in the Valley.  While there are multiple files pertaining to development in the Valley, the particular event that struck me the most was the proposed dam that would have flooded Cement Creek.  The most interesting aspect of this was the amount of feedback that came in after the proposed plan had been released by the Bureau of Reclamation.  Not only were just people from Crested Butte writing in protest, but people from all over the country had comments about the proposed project.  Although my personal favorites come from locals.

This was not just an interesting thing to see a small community fighting back a federal organization like the Bureau of Reclamation, but it also provided a good comparison to other projects where this has occurred.  Many other water storage projects have gone through successful and had benefited the community in a way that is perhaps worth the sacrifice.  It takes a pristine area such as Cement Creek to really make people stand up and decide that loosing this area is not worth the risk. The most interesting think I saw from reading through these letters was that each argument was about the same.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Last Two Categories

I believe my original post stated that there were only four categories included in our website.  This information was false as there are most definitely five total categories that the files where broken down into.  The last two categories are titled Legislation and Other Conservancy Districts.  I chose these two categories for last because they are the most self explanatory categories that we have.  However this does not mean that they lack any significance as a good source of information about things and people affecting the Valley. 
The first one I will talk about is the category of Legislation.  Obviously this category is going to contain mostly legislation that pertains to water and mostly legislation that pertains to the state of Colorado.  Although, there still is a decent chunk of Federal Legislation that made its way into this category as well.  If you are having a desire to investigate the Water Rights system in action, this is the category to start.  It shows examples of all the laws that shape water use in Colorado and examples of the processes involved in protesting a water right, or applying for a water right (although this is something that is present in many categories throughout the site).  This category still remains somewhat unorganized so of you haven't checked out any of them, I encourage you to help me design this in a more organized fashion.
The next category is called Other Conservancy districts and it has information on other water conservancy districts around the state......This may seem very obvious, but the idea is to create an obvious starting point to help people navigate through the thousands of documents. In this sense, this category is one of the best organized of them all.  I discovered many new conservancy districts after going through the documents contained in this category, and the number of organizations was downright shocking.  If you happen to look through this category you my see the reasoning behind my previous statement that our state is "littered" with water conservancy districts. 

Below are the links in order of how they were discussed.  Please check them out.  

Next Two Categories

Sorry for the weekend delay in explaining those next two categories.  My weekend was busy doing volunteering for ORE and assisting with the Recycling Program.  The Next Two Categories I would like to discuss are the Water Projects category and the UGRWCD Organizational Documents category. 
The First of these is the category that contains all the information that the UGRWCD had pertaining to water projects.  This does not just mean projects in Gunnison, but any projects that came through the office.  While the majority of the information in this category does relate to water projects in the Valley, this does well to give better detail than I have seen from other resources describing the same water projects.  It also provides perspectives on these water projects from different conservancy districts around the state.  One example of the intense amount of information available for water projects is all the data on water in the Colorado River.  Since so many projects were done on this river, a lot of different projects have the same base information so at times this category gets a little repetitive.  However, don't be discouraged, there is plenty to discover here. 
The Next category I would like to discuss is the category titled "UGRWCD Organizational Documents.  For student purposes, this category probably contributes the least amount of useful information because a lot of it can only be comprehended by a professional in a water conservancy district.  Many of the files through me for a loop when trying to summarize them in one sentence because I really didn't know the purpose of the document.  Never the less, there are important documents still located within these files.  There are a lot of meeting minutes included here, as well as detailed information on Board Members and Board Committee that Date as far back as the Conservancy District itself.  Perhaps a valuable resource for anyone looking for a historical perspective on the Conservancy District as a subject. 

Below is the link to access the Water Projects Category:

This next link will direct you to the UGRWCD Organizational Documents Category:  

As always check them out and leave me feedback.   

Friday, August 2, 2013

End Of My Internship

I have learned so much with this internship its unbelievable. I have learned how to create events, make valuable contacts, cook new recipes, run an entire website, communication skills, and a whole lot more. This internship has been so valuable to me. I have gained so much and could not thank the great folks at ORE for this opportunity. There has been some transitions going on in the office and they offered me a part time job as Market Manager of Local Farms First. I have been running the market now for a few weeks and it is going great. I have learned so much and I am so proud to be the person to turn to when there is a problem with an order, or if a farmer has a question. I am so grateful for this internship because it got my foot in the door and now I am working for this amazing organization. There are also big plans to expand the market to Telluride and Aspen in the coming months. So this internship has been a wonderful experience for me and I could not be happier with where I am going in my future!

Omnivores Dilemma

I read this book for my internship reading. It was a good read that I learned a lot from. I also got some interesting new views and questions from it. The first section is about corn and how it is a mono-crop that is in everything from our cars to in our hamburgers! It seriously made me think twice about getting fast food every again!! The second part discussed organic food and the benefits of small farms vs. large scale organic farms. This section related to me because I work with a lot of small farms with LFF and I have made a lot of friends who are small farmers. It was interesting to see how the large scale organic farms  operate compared to the small scale. The third section left me with the biggest question. It was about how we have lost touch with food. It makes me wonder how we have come to this point of not even knowing where our food comes from or even caring! This book was great and really taught me a lot about food and how I view it.

The Future Of Food: Local, National and Global

The future of local food on a global level looks challenging, because it is. With the human population so high food insecurity is a problem. On a national level, there are still issues with how our food is raised and grown using harmful hormones and chemicals. This is bad for our future also. On a local level, I can see the great effects of local food through LFF. So I have concluded that although the future of food is a global and national problem for the future, that changing on the local level is the answer. I have seen the good effects on having a local food system. Maybe if we all try to work on the small scale, it could benefit the larger ones. Of course this will  take a lot of time and change. But I have taken the steps to change personally, and I have seriously benefitted from it. I believe this can be done to help our food insecurity as a planet. Start small, but dream big!

Non Profit Businesses

Non-Profits are great organizations. It is wonderful to learn about how they work. The idea of not having anyone wanting to gain anything but a better future is wonderful to see. One thing I have learned about working for a non profit is how important grants are and funding. They are they only way that non profits run smoothly. It is a different concept but it is one that will make your heart happy because only humanity is gaining from these types of businesses. One way ORE gets funding is through grants. They are also putting on a fundraiser in august that will be a big way to get money for new programs for ORE. This type of job allows you to be creative when it comes to getting money to help your programs. It is neat to see these processes happen and learn about different way that business can work.

Local Food Movement: Community Effects

I have gained a strong sense of community while working with LFF. Seeing community members who care about the importance of local food has inspired me to really take action and change my own eating habits. I love eating local food off the market each week and enjoy trying out new recipes. Seeing other people and customers on the market ordering new things from the market each week has made me try new stuff too! I have tried Garlic Scapes, Duck Eggs, Thai Basil and a lot of other things that I would have to chance to buy in the regular grocery store. I love how this internship has sparked a new passion in me for local food. It has really affected my life in a positive way and I am so grateful to have this wonderful opportunity! I love seeing this local food movement grow in our community! Each week on the market there are new customers and new items available, it like Christmas each Wednesday when it is pick up day! Seeing the community respond to the availability of local food is inspiring and makes it clear that with small changes, a more sustainable future is possible.

Farm Tour Bad News

Unfortunately the farm tour was canceled! After all of the planning that went in to it, there wasn’t enough people who wanted to go. The folks at the office have also been swamped with planning the annual fundraiser Sustainaball in August that the farm tour just wasn’t able to happen. It is unfortunate because it would have been a great time. We had set up to visit The Living Farm and Abundant Life Farm to get tours, then go to Delicious Orchards for lunch and to end the day at a winery. Even though this would have been a fabulous day of local food, I still learned a lot about event planning and how involved this process could be. There may be another farm tour in September, so keep your eyes open for advertisements!!

Farm Highlights

With LFF I have been refining my skills in creating important contacts with farmers. I have learned a lot from these wonderful people along the way! Ela Family Farm has a huge orchard and they are so popular that their applesauce sells in Whole Foods! The Birds and The Bees farm specialized in organic, natural Lamb that sells like hot cakes on the market each week! Holy Terror Farm is run by the person who created LFF and ORE! They have all organic produce and free range chicken, not to mention a large orchard on their beautiful farm! Rock Wall Gardens is run by our market facilitator Diana and sells seed starts, greens and herbs! Getting to know some of the farms has been a great experience that has created contacts for me that will be great for my future!

Farm Tour Planning

Planning the farm tour has a lot of ins and outs to make sure they are all taken care of. It is a fun and new process! One thing that has been really helpful is learning about all of the ways you can market and advertise an event. Posters, emails to customers, signs at the farmers markets and around town are just a few thing that can be done to advertise for events. FaceBook is a great way to get the word out too by creating events and inviting your friends. There are other logistics like transportation and lunch that all have to be taken care of. Contacting the farms to schedule a tour and estimating how many people will attend for lunch boxes to be made and transportation to be set up are all aspects that are required to think about. It is a fun and tedious process but is worth it for people to see where their food comes from!! I have had a great time learning how to set up events with ORE and LFF. I have gained some valuable knowledge that will be beneficial to my future as well!!

Local Recipes

Local recipes are a blast to try out! While gathering information about the cookbook I am writing for LFF, I have had an amazing time contacting the farmers and hearing their stories. Another awesome aspect of this is learning how to use produce in ways I never thought I would. I have tried out a recipe for zucchini cookies!!  They are so unique and different not to mention delicious. I have also tried out a recipe for Garlic Scape Hummus, it was tangy and wonderfully tingly on my taste buds. I have also been talking to Ela Family Farms who has a signature apple sauce recipe that sells in WholeFoods! These are just some examples of the wonderful recipes I have tried out and the great people I have been talking to. Using local food to create recipes is a unique and new thing for me. I love to cook but never thought to think outside the box! There will be a new section on the LFF website in the coming months about all of the recipes I have found. This will help our customers order more produce and give them new fresh ideas on how to use the signature items of the farm!!

Gunnison Farmers Market VS. LFF Online Market

This summer I am also an intern with the Gunnison Farmers Market. I want to use this blog post to describe the differences between the farmers market and the LFF online farmers market. There is the obvious difference of setting up and taking down the market. With tents and tables, it is a tiring job. There is a similarity of first come first served. With the Gunnison market and the online market, produce runs out. If you get there early enough, you will get your desired produce, if you come later, you probably have missed out on some cool items. Another similarity is the local products. All of the produce from both markets comes from the localities of Colorado, while LFF is more local, but the Gunnison market features stuff from all over Colorado! This summer has been a blast working for both of these markets! I have learned a lot of new things about how businesses work and all of the complexities of running the operations smoothly. They both involve a lot of helping hands to make them successful. The atmosphere of the outdoor Gunnison market is fun and exciting, while the LFF market is social only on pick up days. But both have their pros and cons. I enjoy working for both organizations and helping them run because they offer local food to our community. They are some of the main driving forces of the local  food movement!!
The Challenge of making this online database user-friendly is the biggest challenge of all considering the mass amount of information that the database contains. Our first move in designing a system that is easier to navigate was to establish five major categories.  These are UGRWCD Organizational Documents, Water Projects, Legislation, Other Conservancy Districts, and Research & Development.  I feel that it would benefit all to have a few post explaining these categories and the types of documents that could be found in each category.  After dealing with all these documents in many forms myself, I can now find it to be the easiest to navigate them on our website.  That being said it is important to get a first hand explanation from someone who designed the system to give the user a place to start (believe me you can get lost quick).
To start, I would like to summarize the Research & Development category. This category contains all the documents that pertain to scientific studies/findings and non-water project information, such as climate change or soil conditions.  Speaking from a students perspective this category would be the most helpful in finding new information about things that are already known are present in the Gunnison Valley.  For instance I am sure that everyone is familiar with the presence of a cloud seeding project in the Valley, but how would one go about finding detailed information on the subject.  The cloud seeding folder on the Research & Development page provides everything from infrastructure design, to emails discussing specific cloud seeding events.  Some of which many people could have been present for and didn't even know it. The last important point to make about this category is that it includes a lot of information not specific to Colorado.  A lot of the studies and experiments that are available on this page took place in the Colorado River Basin Region, which includes almost the entire Western United States.  This means that this category also provides interesting information on how other states use/abuse their delegated water.  One state that has always seemed to slip through the cracks as far as water planning goes is Wyoming. It was interesting to me to read through the Wyoming Water Planning file, which provided a lot of good information on the small water commissions they have.  This is quite the change from our state, where water conservancy districts are as rampant as Starbucks....

Here is the Link to the Research and Development page. Check it out if you have time and as always please  give me feedback on anything you would like.

I guess the first thing to do would be to discuss the ins and outs of the project that is finally complete at this time.  The UGRWCD decided somewhere around 2010 that they wanted to start going digital with all their document, which was a great concept, however it left one problem; a room full of file cabinets that were not so digital.  This was the birth of the project that took over a year to complete and countless people hours of work.  All 15,000+ documents had to be organized, filtered through, scanned, uploaded, and posted to the UGRWCD’s water documents library.  The idea with the library is that it will not only preserve some of the older documents that the UGRWCD had stashed away, but it will also provide a good public resource for water issues in the Valley.  Since our town is very small, sometimes it can be difficult trying to find specific information about the area, and just through my  experience with this database, it has opened my eyes to a lot of information I never knew was out there. 

                By going through all these documents, I have certainly learned a lot more than I thought I would just doing “mindless” scanning and uploading.  Having to upload these documents allowed me to read through them and discover just a little more about the area than meets the eye.  Through this blog I hope to report to you just a few of the interesting things I found throughout my work on the project.  A lot of them are things that I have heard about in classes at Western, and it just made it even more intriguing to see it in the real world.  I would also encourage everyone to visit the website and give me a little feedback on what you think.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Artists are slowly crawling out of the woods to regain a sense of time and space. If they are lucky they may get to a computer to blogg about their time in the bush. The last residency CAR held was a backpacking trip through the John Muir Wilderness.

Creative Writer, tory tepp writes about his John Muir Wilderness awakening. Blogging about it was fueled by a continuous stream of "alternating coffee and IPAs." 

 Hey 8-01-2013 is IPA Day so check his peice today!