Colorado Country Life January 2022

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Volume 53

Number 01

January 2022 THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE COLORADO RURAL ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION COMMUNICATIONS STAFF Mona Neeley, CCC, Publisher/Editor Cassi Gloe, CCC, Production Manager/Designer Kylee Coleman, Editorial/Admin. Assistant ADVERTISING National Advertising Representative, American MainStreet Publications 611 S. Congress Street, Suite 504, Austin, TX 78704 | 800-626-1181 Advertising Standards: Publication of an advertisement in Colorado Country Life does not imply endorsement by any Colorado rural electric cooperative or the Colorado Rural Electric Association. Colorado Country Life (USPS 469-400/ISSN 1090-2503) is published monthly by Colorado Rural Electric Association, 5400 Washington Street, Denver, CO 80216-1731. Periodical postage paid at Denver, Colorado. ©Copyright 2022, Colorado Rural Electric Association. Call for reprint rights. EDITORIAL Denver Corporate Office, 5400 Washington Street, Denver, CO 80216 | 303-455-4111 | | | Editorial opinions published in Colorado Country Life magazine shall pertain to issues affecting rural electric cooperatives, rural communities and citizens. The opinion of CREA is not necessarily that of any particular cooperative or individual. SUBSCRIBERS Report change of address to your local cooperative. Do not send change of address to Colorado Country Life. Cost of subscription for members of participating electric cooperatives is $2.70 a year (22.5¢ per month) plus postage, paid from equity accruing to the member. For non-members, a subscription is $10 a year in-state/ $16 out-of-state.







PINTEREST SNEAK PEEK COCountryLife pinned: January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day. Celebrate it with Peanut Butter Chicken. Get the recipe at







On the




POSTMASTER Send address changes to Colorado Country Life, 5400 Washington Street, Denver, CO 80216


“Steller’s Jay” by Carlos Casados, a consumer-member of San Isabel Electric Association.

FACEBOOK CHATTER Colorado Rural Electric Association posted: Even during the holidays, Colorado’s electric cooperative lineworkers are ready to respond to whatever comes your way! It doesn’t matter if it’s repairing a downed power line, installing a new meter, or even giving Santa a helping hand so he can deliver Colorado’s presents on time. 24/7, 365 day a year…

Illustration by Lisa Padgett.

Monthly Contest PLUS


Start the new year with new recipes to try. Visit and click on Contests to enter to win one of five different cookbooks we are giving away.






INSTAGRAM PIC of the month





Elected representatives gather to conduct the people’s business BY KENT SINGER



he second regular session of the 73rd Colorado General Assembly begins at the Colorado State Capitol on January 12 at 10 a.m. with the hammering of the gavel by the Speaker of the House. With that action, another 120-day session of our state legislature commences. The Colorado General Assembly has 100 members: 65 members of the House of Representatives and 35 members of the Senate. These elected legislators represent nearly 6 million Coloradans from all walks of life and political persuasions. They come from communities across the state to do legislative work in Denver, and they bring a broad diversity in life experience and different opinions about the role government should play in our lives. I’ve been involved in one way or another with every session of the Colorado General Assembly since 1985. As a legislative staff attorney, an attorney in private practice representing the interests of clients on legislative matters, and for the last 12 years as the CREA executive director, I’ve been a close observer of our representative government for 36 years. I’ve seen a lot of changes in how the assembly functions over that time. Some changes have been good; others, not so much. On the good side, our legislature is populated by honest, hardworking people who ran for office out of a sense of public service and a desire to make Colorado a better place to live. Our legislature has been almost entirely free of the corruption that has plagued other states. Regardless of whether you agree with the policy direction of the Colorado legislature, there is still, for the most part, a culture of transparency and integrity.



Another positive trend in the Colorado legislature over the last couple decades is the increasing diversity of those serving in the body. If you have visited the State Capitol and looked at the many pictures of the folks who were elected to past legislatures, it’s obvious that since statehood in 1876, the legislature has been largely comprised of white men. During the years I was a staff attorney in the 1980s, the general assembly had many distinguished women and minority members, but those groups were still underrepresented. That dynamic has changed dramatically in recent years with the result that more groups have a seat at the table. On the flipside, there are some other recent (and by recent, I mean in the last 20 – 30 years) developments that I believe are not in the best interests of Colorado. One is the implementation of term limits by a vote of the people in 1994. Under that constitutional amendment, state legislators are limited to eight consecutive years of service, in each chamber, be it two four-year terms in the Senate or four two-year terms in the House. While term limits may seem like a good idea in theory, the result has been that power has shifted from the elected representatives to the unelected lobbyists and legislative staff. Just when legislators have learned enough about the state budget and other complicated issues to be effective, they are precluded from running for office again and using their institutional knowledge to benefit all of Colorado. The second concern I have about our legislature is the increasing trend toward “pro forma” committee hearings — hearings where the outcome is never in doubt


and the testimony of witnesses is simply a formality. Of course, elections have consequences, and the majority party has always exercised power by assigning certain bills to committees, appointing committee chairs, and controlling which bills pass and which bills fail. However, in recent years, many committee chairs have implemented rules limiting testimony to 2 or 3 minutes per witness. All too frequently, members of the committee are not even present during witness testimony. When Coloradans make the effort to attend committee hearings and share their point of view with the legislature, it is not unreasonable for them to expect to be heard and to have their opinions taken seriously. That said, and even though it’s far from perfect, the Colorado General Assembly is still a place where the people’s business is conducted in a transparent and open manner by people who sincerely wish to improve the lives of their constituents. At CREA, we look forward to the start of each legislative session as another opportunity to tell the electric co-op story and to participate in our republican form of government. Kent Singer is the executive director of CREA and offers a statewide perspective on issues affecting electric cooperatives. CREA is the trade association for your electric co-op, the 21 other electric co-ops in Colorado and its power supply co-op.



Let’s get out there and explore in 2022




agazine readers Art and Linda Wilson give me inspiration as we start the new year. Members of SDCEA from Buena Vista, Art and Linda recently shared a photo of themselves holding a copy of Colorado Country Life as they are standing among the penguins in Antarctica. Their visit to the frozen continent was part of a trip celebrating their 61st wedding anniversary. I so admire them for, first of all, making a marriage last 61 years. But I also salute them for venturing out and exploring our world despite COVID-19 constraints and the what-ifs we all faced in 2021.

They took a MONA NEELEY trip of a lifetime and experienced new things despite challenges. That gives me inspiration to get out there in this coming year and explore. I’m ready for new places and experiences in 2022! How about you?

Art and Linda Wilson celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary Morton_Col.Ctr.Life.1.22.qxp_Layout 1 12/3/21 2:44 PM Page 1 among the penguins in Antarctica.



Looking Back at Co-op Memories

My dad worked for rural electric association co-ops in Oklahoma and Indiana, from the 1940s to around 1970. He was managing editor for the Indian Rural Newspaper through the 1950s and 60s. My mother was a homemaker-editor as well. I learned at an early age how co-ops work for their members and not shareholders. My dad would have national REA meetings, often in Colorado, and he would bring the family. That is how I learned to love Colorado. I have been here since 1980. James E. Mueller, Salida SDCEA consumer-member

Wind Turbine Improvements

Wind turbines are designed to withstand wind speeds of 156 miles per hour, and the platforms are designed after oil well rigs that handle category 5 hurricanes routinely. Additionally, tests have shown that wind turbine farms slow down hurricane winds, and at winds of 55 mph, the wind turbines shut down automatically. In Louisiana’s last hurricane, the major reasons for the electric outages were the 30,000 downed electric poles that were not designed for a category 5 storm, the 35,000 spans of wire downed, a lot of downed trees and Louisiana’s lack of independent micro grid power. Since storms are becoming stronger, new and stronger wind turbines are being designed. John Spezia Yampa Valley Electric consumer-member

Not a Fan of Hydrogen

Your article [on hydrogen vehicles in the November ’21 issue] is misleading in several aspects. That there are no emissions from hydrogen fuel cells is wrong. They emit water vapor, just not carbon gases. Secondly, while the hydrogen burns cleanly, the production of hydrogen, especially if left to the corporations that now sell us fossil fuels, is typically dirty. Terry Gulliver, Westcliffe SDCEA consumer-member

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SEND US YOUR LETTERS Editor Mona Neeley, 5400 Washington St., Denver, CO 80216 or mneeley@ Include name and address. Letters may be edited for length.

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nergy keeps us comfortable in our homes, and our monthly bill is the associated cost for this energy use. To make energy-saving measures work in your home, you’ll need to prevent energy waste while maintaining personal comfort in your home. Get back to the basics to see if you can find opportunities to save energy in your home. Filters, LEDs and thermostat settings are great places to start.

Replace filters If your home has a forced-air system, you have a filter. The filter needs to be checked regularly and replaced when it’s dirty. A dirty filter can cause heating and air-conditioning systems to use 15% more energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Since heating and air conditioning make up almost half of your energy use, replacing your filter when it looks dirty is a habit that can reduce energy waste.

Upgrade to LEDs Upgrading your lighting to LEDs is a simple, low-cost way to cut energy use. Depending on your budget, you can do it all at once or change bulbs out over time. If you are going to replace a few at a time, prioritize the lights you use the most.



There are many LED options available. One major variation is the color temperature, which is listed on the packaging in kelvins. Bulbs that are 2700K are similar to incandescent lighting. Energy Star®–rated products are ideal because they meet strict quality and efficiency standards, use up to 90% less energy and last 15 times longer than standard bulbs.

Adjust your thermostat It’s amazing how much difference a few degrees can make. By adjusting your thermostat to your home habits, you can save on heating and cooling costs year-round. For winter months, the DOE recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees when you are home and dialing it back 8 to 10 degrees when you leave the house or go to sleep. For summer, the recommendation is 78 degrees when you are home and 8 to 10 degrees warmer when you are away. Using a programmable or smart thermostat will allow you to set temperatures according to your schedule. Making these small changes in your routine will help improve your energy efficiency while maintaining comfort in your home. Miranda Boutelle of Efficiency Services Group writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.


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Celebrate peanut butter on its own special day BY AMY HIGGINS


Palate-pleasing peanut butter flavor in every bite


acked with rich, palate-pleasing flavor, peanuts are a perennial staple in American households. Rich in protein, antioxidants, omega-6 and more, research has shown that peanuts can aid in lowering your risk of diabetes, improving heart health and maintaining good cholesterol. In recognition of National Peanut Butter Day on January 24, we turned to the National Peanut Board for inspiration in the kitchen. Here is one recipe to get you celebrating. For even more ways to get creative with peanuts, visit the recipes page at

Spicy Peanut Grilled Chicken Kebabs 1 pound chicken breast, cut into strips Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 large green bell pepper, cut into large chunks 1 large orange bell pepper, cut into large chunks 2 small yellow summer squash, sliced 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1/4 cup water 2 teaspoons lime juice 2 tablespoons honey 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/3 cup chopped peanuts for garnish Fresh cilantro for garnish

DID YOU KNOW? / GO NUTS! Did you know that, in a high-pressure environment, peanut butter can be turned into diamonds? Read more fun peanut facts at news/fun-facts.htm.



Immerse 8 long wooden skewers in water and soak for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Thread onto skewers along with bell pepper chunks and sliced squash. Place the peanut butter, garlic, soy sauce, water, lime juice, honey, red pepper flakes, and ground ginger in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth, adding more water to thin the sauce as needed. Reserve half of the sauce for dipping. Brush chicken and veggies with some of the remaining sauce, then spray lightly with cooking spray. Coat gas grill grates with cooking spray (or grill pan) and preheat on medium-high heat. Place skewers on grill, cover, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and brush with remaining sauce, then cook 4 to 5 more minutes until chicken is no longer pink. Garnish with freshly chopped peanuts and cilantro. Serve with dipping sauce on the side.


Co-op Manager’s Estate Benefits Limon He Loved


hen John Rohr, the general manager of Mountain View Electric Association in Limon, died in 2016 at age 75, he willed his personal fortune to Limon, where he had lived and worked for the co-op. Since then, the John Rohr Legacy Fund has benefited eight groups in the community of less than 2,000 on Colorado’s eastern plains. The fund has donated money for the town library, ambulance service, recreation department and the fire district, among other beneficiaries. Rohr, who served from 1981 to 1996 as general manager of MVEA, an electric co-op that serves all or parts of Arapahoe, Crowley, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Lincoln, Pueblo and Washington counties, was known for his frugal lifestyle. However, he was more aggressive when it came to investing than is expected of those nearing retirement. He did well and today the fund he bequeathed to the town is worth more than when he died. The eight groups that have benefited from the fund have used the money for flooring and carpeting in the library, equipment upgrades for the ambulance, a warning track and backstop at a baseball field and more. This year the fund made its largest distribution so far: about $750,000. Some of the recently distributed funds will go toward a new public pool that will replace Limon’s aging facility built in 1957 and in need of repairs. The new pool will have an aquatic climbing wall, a corkscrew slide and other amenities. The Rohr Fund was expected to last for 40 years, but with continued strong investments, it could last longer, extending the legacy of a man who believed in his adopted hometown.

U.S. Power Use Continues Rise It is expected that power usage in the United States rose 3% in 2021, as compared to a coronavirus-depressed 11-year low in usage in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The EIA projected in late 2021 that power demand would climb to 3,921 billion kilowatt-hours in 2021 and then to 3,942 billion kWh in 2022. Part of that increase is a record high 1,490 billion kWh for residential consumers, as ongoing COVID-19 concerns keep people working from home.



TWO COLORADO CO-OPS MAKE CO-OP 100 LIST Even during a global pandemic, electric cooperatives continue to be significant economic engines in their communities. That is according to the latest National Cooperative Bank Co-op 100 list, which ranks co-ops across a variety of industries by revenue. Two Colorado electric-related cooperatives made the list: CoBank and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Electric co-ops account for almost one-quarter of the Co-op 100 list, collectively earning $20.4 billion in revenue and topping $64.5 billion in assets in 2020. CoBank, a national bank headquartered in Greenwood Village and serving electric co-ops and other ag industries, ranked 11th with revenues of $3.5 billion. Tri-State ranked 35th with revenues of $1.3 billion. Tri-State was one of 24 electric co-ops that made the list from across the country.

Co-ops Continue Cybersecurity Work


lectric co-ops are receiving $5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s work in developing sophisticated cybersecurity tools. The funds come from the Electricity Subsector Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Initiative following the Biden administration’s 100-day action plan to secure the U.S. energy grid. NRECA has partnered with the DOE on several cybersecurity projects and appreciates this funding that will help support the deployment of advanced technologies to stay ahead of cyberattacks. This includes support for Essence 2.0, a tool developed to instantly alert utilities of possible network intrusions.


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Southwestern Colorado nearly swept this year’s “Best of Colorado” contest. While we know from experience that there are amazing businesses, products, places to visit and more all over the Centennial State, readers who love the southwestern corner of the state made their preferences known and took several of the categories in this annual readers’ choice event. Thanks to everyone who shared their favorites and made this list possible. Three lucky entrants also won a $100 gift card in a random drawing among those sending submissions. They are consumer-members Rylie Gardner of Grand Valley Power, Randy Brockett of Mountain View Electric and Debie Schmitt of Empire Electric. Now find your favorite among these Best of Colorado winners.


McPhee Reservoir, Dolores

Boating, camping, fishing, hiking and biking beckon all at McPhee Reservoir, and Colorado Country Life’s readers think it’s the “Best Spot for a Day at the Lake,” according to our 2021 Best of Colorado nominations. The San Juan National Forest Service keeps the lake loaded with warmand cold-water fish, including walleye, bass, trout, crappie and more, with a public fish-cleaning station for your day’s catch. Bring your motorized or non-motorized boat — both are welcome. Take a 1-mile hike along the area’s Can Do Trail to Ridge Point Overlook, or ride your mountain bike up the McPhee/House Creek bike route to capture the picturesque views. Want to stay longer than a day? McPhee will accommodate RVs (up to 50 feet), has space available for tent camping, and has limited cabins for guests to reserve. The summers get hot, so be sure to bring plenty of water and a shade. Open season is May through September. For more information, visit




Photo courtesy Enstrom

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Enstrom Toffee & Confectionery, Grand Junction

Enstrom’s buttery, rich toffee, topped with chocolate and crushed almonds, has been bringing sweet smiles to customer’s faces since 1960. That’s when founder Chet Enstrom perfected his delicious candy treat after more than 30 years in the ice cream and candy business in Grand Junction. Chet and partner Harry Jones opened their ice cream shop in 1929 shortly before the stock market crashed. They kept the business going through the Great Depression, thanks to Chet’s outside work as a refrigeration expert. And they kept it going through World War II’s butter and sugar rationing by making candy for the troops using the butter and sugar brought in by the soldiers’ parents. Then, in 1960, while working on toffee to stir into a butter brickle ice cream, Chet perfected the recipe for what is now Enstrom’s world-renowned almond toffee. The original store at 701 Colorado Avenue in downtown Grand Junction is still there, under the direction of a third generation, and the business has expanded to include two other Western Slope retail stores and three Denver metro area stores and a fourth generation of family. Visit one of the stores for some toffee or gourmet chocolates or order online at


Chipita Accessories, Walsenburg

Chipita Accessories designer and owner Joan Eagle enlists the services of local artisans to complete her studio’s jewelry collection. Meticulously designed using materials such as Swarovski crystals, vintage glass, precious and semi-precious stones, and sterling silver, the local talent fashions eye-catching necklaces, earrings and bracelets with the tiniest details in mind. From vibrantly adorned accoutrements that provide that wow factor to simple yet stunning treasures, you’ll repeatedly and proudly put on your one-of-a-kind Chipita jewelry for a special night out or just a trip to the local market. Creating unique jewelry for 40 years, it’s no wonder Chipita earned CCL’s Best Jewelry Craftsman award. For more information, visit

Where to Find Other Reader Favorites From Around the State JEWELRY CRAFTSMAN 1. Melanie Kilpatrick, Craig 2. The Prairie Jewel, Falcon 3. Cheryl Swartz, Westcliffe DAY AT THE LAKE 4. Monument Lake, Stonewall 5. Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins 6. Jackson Lake, Weldona CANDYMAKER 7. Colorado Candy Company, Fort Collins 8. Taffy’s, Pueblo MOUNTAIN BIKING TRAIL 9. Palisade Plunge, Palisade 10. Hartman Rocks, Gunnison HISTORIC SITE 11. Bent’s Fort, La Junta 12. Ludlow Massacre Monument, Trinidad 13. Kit Carson County Carousel, Burlington 14. National Museum of WWII Aviation, Colorado Springs PIZZA 15. Gino’s Pizzeria, Craig 16. Tony’s Pizzeria, Silvercliff 17. Altitude Pizza, Granby 18. Brewed Awakening—Pizza at the Brew, Holyoke PLACE FOR LIVE MUSIC 19. Los Colonias Amphitheater, Grand Junction 20. Center for the Arts, Crested Butte 21. Fox Theater, Walsenburg ARTS & CRAFTS FAIR 22. Loveland Annual Sculpture Show, Loveland 23. Homemade Homegrown, Craig 24. Hippodrome Fair to Remember, Julesburg





Boggy Draw Trail, Dolores

While there are countless magnificent mountain biking trails in the Centennial State, Boggy Draw Trail in Dolores scored highest with CCL’s readers in our 2021 Best of Colorado survey. Fairly flat with some areas of moderate climbing and easily identified signage, the trail is just under 9 miles long with cool stretches of shade, a beautiful backdrop and occasional glimpses of wildlife. Portions of the trail are groomed by cows grazing in the area, so you may need to dodge the occasional “meadow muffin” while on your adventure, although this doesn’t seem to be a sticking point for most visitors. “Boggy Draw has the capability of wrapping the young through the old, and riders of all levels, in wooded beauty,” says a local resident who uses the trail. “Its trails undulate and roll out like a never-ending red carpet.” For more information, visit


Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde

Tucked into the cliffs of the deep canyons below the expansive mesas of Mesa Verde National Park between Mancos and Cortez are hundreds of ancient cliff dwellings inhabited by Ancestral Puebloans about 1,000 years ago. This park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers fascinating tours and amazing views of these cliff dwellings, as well as tours of the pithouses, pueblos and masonry towers preserved on the mesas. The park provides a look into the lives of these ancient people who abandoned the Four Corners region in the late 1200s leaving behind what are now some of the most notable and well-preserved ruins on the North American continent. A modern visitors center at the gateway to the park features exhibits, original art and information on the park’s research collection. Learn more at


Secret Stash, Crested Butte

Photo courtesy Secret Stash

Escape the ever-so-quaint Elk Avenue in Crested Butte and dive deep into a red, vibey pizza underground to enjoy what was voted as the Best Pizza in Colorado by CCL readers. And CCL staff had the pleasure of eating there, too. The funky, soft interior of Secret Stash is a whole mood. And it’s perfect for après ski lounging where you can enjoy choice, handmade, custom-flavored and witfully-named pizzas such as the “Notorious F.I.G.” Or try what its website describes as a “local favorite,” the “Mac Daddy,” which is a pizza-take on the “big one” at the burger chain no one likes to mention, slathered with thousand island dressing and pickles. But first? Secret Stash Crack Fries. You’ll thank us later. For more information, visit





Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison

Let’s face it: Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison may have had an unfair advantage in this category. Headliners sometimes can’t even compete with the unique, natural beauty and the thrill of the iconic outdoor concert venue that was voted number one by CCL readers. It seems like all Coloradans have a Red Rocks story. And that’s part of what makes it so special. There’s nothing like singing along to your favorite band’s number one radio single with more than 9,500 of your fellow devotees beneath the stars or a full moon on a warm summer night. Red Rocks brings fans together to enjoy the simple pleasure of live music. Our tastes in music may change over the years, but the grandeur of Red Rocks and the exhilarating energy created during a concert certainly won’t. And if you don’t have a Red Rocks story, go get one. The Summer 2022 concert lineup can be found at


Third Thursdays, Cortez

This is not your average arts and crafts fair. From June to September, attendees are entertained with live music, dancing, giveaways, raffles, concessions and several vendors, including several products from local artisans. Third Thursdays has grown substantially since its launch in 2016, bringing in more than 1,000 attendees at their latest event in September 2021 where Ryan Shupe & the RubberBand graced the Montezuma Park stage. “It’s so wonderful to just see so many of our community from different walks of life come together in the park to enjoy time with each other!” says City of Cortez Communications and Events Manager Jonathon Brooks. “We are excited to hear that Colorado and the community are recognizing what a fun community event it is!” For more information, visit

DISCOVER STAFF FAVORITES Be sure to look at our Discoveries section on page 30 of this issue to see Colorado Country Life staff’s favorite Colorado products and places. Notice: Due to Covid-19 restrictions, some of these businesses may not offer their usual accommodations. Please contact the business with any questions. COLOR ADO COUNTRY LIFE JANUARY 2022



Microgrids Co-ops add local, self-sufficient systems to improve resiliency Solar fields, such as this one in Holy Cross Energy’s territory, can support microgrids when other resources aren’t available.



ccess to reliable electricity is top-ofmind for CREA and its member electric cooperatives. But natural disasters such as wildfires and winter storms can affect that reliability by taking down electric infrastructure and isolating rural areas (sometimes for long periods of time). Two projects exemplify how Colorado’s co-ops are implementing microgrids, which are autonomous energy systems that serve specific areas and provide backup electricity with common-sense solutions when needed in emergencies. Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association in Fort Collins went live with a microgrid in Red Feather Lakes in October. Holy Cross Energy in Glenwood Springs is moving forward with another microgrid project on the Western Slope. Red Feather Lakes is 60 miles away from PVREA’s headquarters. Historically, it has been prone to disasters that have major impacts on its single transmission line system bringing electricity to the town. High elevation, heavy snowfall, dangerous winter driving conditions, fallen trees, wildfires and even tornadoes put this mountain town at risk for losing power.



PVREA leaders decided to create a microgrid after the local library won a grant to install solar panels and a battery to improve resiliency. The microgrid was installed at the local fire station, which has a propane generator and is located across the street from the library. PVREA controls the microgrid and owns the 140-kilowatt/448-kilowatt-hour battery. Now in place, the microgrid will provide secondary power for several hours if a disaster occurs. “This project is rooted in community, which is a huge part of who we are as a cooperative. The Red Feather Lakes community came together to solve a need and approached us with the project. As we learn more about this microgrid, we can share that information with other cooperatives across the nation so that we all may better serve our members,” said Jeff Wadsworth, Poudre Valley REA president and CEO. The project also would not be possible without the assistance of PVREA’s partners. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association led the initiative in Red Feather Lakes, which is one

of four microgrid projects involving five co-ops nationwide. NRECA connected the co-ops with a U.S. Department of Energy project, which provided $1.3 million in energy storage grants. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories are also partners in the project. In addition, PVREA’s board of directors provided matching funding for its microgrid. “The partners we had on this project were extremely important to us. We could not have completed this microgrid without our local, regional and national partners,” Wadsworth said. HCE is also making headway with the creation of a microgrid system. The electric co-op is working on a feasibility study with Pitkin County and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to determine the practicality of a microgrid connecting a cluster of public facilities near the airport. The microgrid would be powered by renewable energy, independent from the larger electric grid. These facilities, which include the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, the county’s public works facility, and RFTA’s bus

ENERGY CONNECTIONS barn, also would be protected from outages if service to the rest of the area is temporarily compromised by an outage. The feasibility study is funded by a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. With most of the research completed, HCE is looking ahead and fully anticipating making the microgrid a reality. The urgency to create a microgrid in HCE territory emerged after the Lake Christine Fire in July 2018, which scorched more than 12,500 acres. The wildfire shut down power to the Upper Roaring Fork Valley, which includes the towns of Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt, with a yearround population of around 18,000. Three out of the four transmission lines running into Aspen were disabled and if the fourth line had gone down, it could have led to days or even weeks without electric service. This is not a possibility HCE is willing to face again for its members. With the research phase of the microgrid project nearly complete, HCE is busy planning the next steps and the next phase of the project. Several grant opportunities

Poudre Valley REA works with Red Feather Lakes to install battery storage for its microgrid.

are in the approval process, including one from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. HCE will also cost-share part of the project, with funding going toward staffing needs and a protection plan to ensure the main grid is still being protected. “Microgrids are really good on ‘black sky days’ and serve as a secondary source of power during a crisis. But there is also a great benefit to the grid on ‘blue sky days,’ and there is value in adding these batteries,”

said Chris Bilby, research engineer for HCE. “By installing a microgrid, we are actually going back to the old days. Many mines and train stations used to operate on microgrids, but because of the pollution, these transmission factories were moved farther away from populated areas, so people didn’t have to breathe that bad air in. With a clear path to clean energy in the near future, we can now move these microgrids back to communities,” Bilby continued. In the face of a crisis, and especially when it threatens the resilience of the electric system, CREA and its electric cooperatives are working with their communities and other partners to find solutions. PVREA and HCE are examples of what it means to lead and overcome challenges to make reliable electricity readily available, despite any circumstance. Microgrids were the way of the past and now are an important step toward the future. Sarah Smith is a freelance writer with a fondness for Colorado’s electric co-ops and the rural areas they serve.

The small community in northern Colorado gets its electricity delivered by a single transmission line and will benefit from its new microgrid if that line goes down. COLOR ADO COUNTRY LIFE JANUARY 2022



GOING NATIVE Colorado ethnobotany garden cultivates indigenous plants BY VICKI SPENCER



nterest in ethnobotany, or the science of how native plants grow, has become quite popular in the West as our demand for limited water increases along with our population. Many gardeners look to indigenous populations for wisdom that has been handed down from generation to generation. In Colorado, we can learn a lot about native plants from the Ute People whose ancestral lands stretched from the eastern Colorado plains across the Rockies to Utah. Historically, Ute hunter-gatherers crossed millions of these acres to gather food for their survival. Depending on the season, they supplemented their diet of deer, elk, buffalo and small game with assorted roots, seeds, nuts and fruits. They followed blooming plants from lower to higher elevations to take advantage of their bounty. Over time, they acquired extensive knowledge of plants native to our region. Today this wisdom is shared at the Ute Museum in Montrose, which sits on land that was once part of Chief Ouray’s homestead. For years, the museum’s outdoor space was graced with a traditional ornamental garden featuring European geraniums, ornamental elderberry, bellflower, yarrow and Shasta



daisies. Recently, a group of volunteers suggested the garden should be more in line with the museum’s cultural and educational mission. They envisioned an ethnobotany garden focused on native plants that the Utes cultivated for use as food, medicine and shelter, as well as for ceremonial purposes. A small task force determined that the basic structure of the ornamental garden did not need to be changed. They just needed to remove non-natives such as Shasta daisies, bellflowers and wild roses to make space for native grasses, scarlet gilia, tall goldenrod, tufted evening-primrose and other natives. They also wanted to retain a spring-fed pond that created an interesting water feature, but agricultural runoff in the spring had provided the opportunity for invasive species to take over. Since the pond flows into the Uncompaghre River, it could not be treated with herbicides. Invasives such as watercress had to be removed by hand. Forty local volunteers took the challenge and removed the non-natives in one day. However, many species (e.g., wild roses and Shasta daisies) produce new growth from a persistent root system, so volunteers must continue their labor-intensive activity

periodically to keep the non-natives under control. In addition to engaging volunteers, the museum has inspired collaborations among different organizations. For instance, the University of Kansas and History Colorado partnered with the museum to develop signage. One beautifully illustrated poster depicts the cultural use of native plants. Yucca, which is so formidable with its sharp spikes, produces beautiful flowers. These can be steamed for a dish much like spinach. Piñon pines produce seeds which have become a delicacy enjoyed worldwide, much as they were by the Ute and Apache tribes and later-arriving Hispanic communities. The ethnobotany garden blooms most profusely in spring and early summer, but you can enjoy museum exhibits and cultural programs (such as excursions to see the Shavano Valley Petroglyphs and beaded art classes) year-round. Gardener Vicki Spencer has an eclectic background in conservation, water, natural resources and more.

LEARN MORE ONLINE Read previous gardening columns at Click on Gardening under Living in Colorado.

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Please mention code 116249 when ordering. The Zoomer and Zinger Chairs are personal electric vehicles and are not medical devices nor wheelchairs. They are not intended for medical purposes to provide mobility to persons restricted to a sitting position. They are not covered by Medicare nor Medicaid. © 2021 Journey Health and Lifestyle


Days of Ducks, Drakes and Dogs Duck hunting tailor-made for the times BY DENNIS SMITH


D ECE M B E R CO N T E ST Pamela Flowers, Pagosa Springs La Plata Electric Association

Pamela won a Roo Apron featured in the Gardening section of the December ’21 issue.




ere it is January and the dead of winter is upon us, though February might argue that point. Anyway, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on the past year and look forward to what’s coming down the road as well. The best of the big game and upland bird seasons are over but there’s still plenty of “outdoorsy” stuff to do in the weeks ahead. Ice fishing with all its cold and craziness comes to mind. Likewise, the late goose seasons. Oh, and fly tying, of course. Then there’s the conservation hunt for migrating snow geese in March, turkey in April and May — the list goes on. It’s occurred to me that we outdoor types never seem to rest; we simply switch gears with the seasons. I’ve noticed our perspective changes over time too, or at least mine has: I used to get a real kick out of hunting ducks with my kids — building blinds, setting out the decoys and all that. Lately, I find I’d rather just sit in the blind with them, watch the birds, and marvel at the sunrise. And, now that the grandkids are hunting with us, I don’t even bring a shotgun. If the ducks decoy well and the young’uns get some shooting, that’s great. If not, we’ve still had a fun morning in the blind cracking jokes and listening to the marsh creatures wake up around us. Ducks fly early and the hunt is usually over by 9 or 10 o’clock,

at which time we’ll pack up and head for the nearest small-town breakfast joint. The grandkids like that part. So do I. When we first started doing this many years ago, it was important to bag a limit, if only to prove we knew how to and could shoot straight. It’s still gratifying to take a duck or two these days, but not nearly so important. Admittedly, we like to eat them, and we celebrate if we shoot a brace of teal, a wood duck, or a couple of big, fat, northern mallard drakes. We were in a goose pit one viciously cold morning last year watching the sun come up over an east Colorado cornfield. A goose pit is a large, rectangular hole in the ground resembling nothing so much as an enormous grave. It’s impossible to avoid the comparison when you’re in one, and the graveyard humor is inevitable. We had just put out a couple of hundred decoys, fired up the propane heater, gotten the dogs settled in and filled our cups with hot coffee from a large thermos when Derek popped his head out of the pit and said of the glorious sunrise, “Hey, if you could wake up to this every morning, being dead wouldn’t be such a bummer.” Dennis Smith is a freelance outdoors writer and photographer whose work appears nationally. He lives in Loveland.


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Breaking Records In March 2021, the Museum of Northwest Colorado invited the public to witness in person the unveiling of its newest exhibit: the world’s largest watercolor mural. With a carpentry background, artist and local resident Israel Holloway first built the structure of the mural and then began putting brush to canvas. It took Holloway three months to complete the 16-by-10-foot mural, which showcases another local resident, Clint Chew, riding his trusty horse with unassuming details such as the model’s crest featured on his chaps and a representation of the saddle designed by his grandfather. With COVID-19 restrictions still holding strong in late 2020, the folks at the museum decided to do a live feed of Holloway’s progress on Facebook. People from around the world, including India and Italy, tuned in regularly to the feed to witness Holloway’s headway. The museum’s assistant director Paul Knowles said people would write to the museum to let them know that, in light of all the COVID madness, watching Holloway was a wonderful diversion. “It was extremely fun to watch,” Knowles said. “[Holloway] really helped out, not only the museum but the community. It was really good news in the community.”


More Reasons to Visit the Museum Witnessing the world’s largest watercolor mural should prompt you to hightail it to Craig, but that’s not all the museum has to offer. Its Cowboy Collection features what Knowles calls “an absolutely astonishing public display” of antique guns as well as many other artifacts such as spurs, holsters, photography, and relics from infamous outlaw Harry Tracy and prominent figure of the Old West Ann Bassett, a female rancher in Brown’s Hole, now called Brown’s Park. As Knowles describes: “Smithsonian-worthy type items that usually end up in larger institutions.” The museum itself is a relic of history. The 100-year-old building started as an armory built by the National Guard and was then converted to a community center, complete with a stage for activities such as plays, boxing matches and roller skating. It was transformed to a museum in the early 1960s after mammoth fossils were discovered in the area. Fast forward to today and you can still view dinosaur fossils, stagecoach and railroad artifacts, and, soon, a new Fur Trading Exhibit which will house hundreds of memorabilia from the fur trading era. 

WHERE IS THE MUSEUM? Museum of Northwest Colorado 590 Yampa Avenue Craig, CO 81625 970-824-6360 •

See it for Yourself: Watch Holloway as he creates the world’s largest watercolor mural by visiting or see a time-lapse video at COLOR ADO COUNTRY LIFE JANUARY 2022



Fish Oil Failure Shines a Grim Light on America’s Memory Crisis America’s top memory M.D. reveals the startling reason why “senior moments” may be caused by fish oil — and the #1 way to fix it fast ore than 16 million M Americans suffer age-associated cognitive impairment. And according to nationwide research, these numbers are only rising.

shrink, and our memories would quickly fade.” A groundbreaking study from the University of Alberta confirmed this. Animals given a diet rich in DHA saw a 29% boost in their hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. As a result, these animals became smarter.

Thankfully, anti-aging specialist and bestselling author, Dr. Al Sears, says there’s an easy way to banish senior moments for good. It’s a safe, natural compound that can The same was found in grow the brain significantly human studies, too. After bigger. analyzing more than 1,500 And unlike failed solu- seniors, the Framingham tions that promise what they study found that those whose can’t deliver, this one actually brains were deficient in DHA, works — at least, according had significantly smaller to studies from Framingham, brains — a characteristic of and other reputable universi- accelerated aging and a weakties. ened memory. But in order for it to work, you must avoid using run-ofthe-mill fish oil supplements. “The worst thing you can do for your memory,” explains Dr. Sears, “is to supplement with fish oil.” Dr. Al Sears, a highly-acclaimed MD — who has published more than 500 studies — says today’s low-grade supermarket fish oil is causing the surge in America’s memory crisis. “These cheap oils are no longer as nutrient-dense as they once were,” he explains. If you want to get rid of embarrassing senior moments Dr. Sears recommends a different approach.

THE SECRET TO A LASTING MEMORY Research has shown our paleo ancestors were able to grow bigger and smarter brains by eating foods rich in one ingredient — DHA. “Our hippocampus thrives off DHA, and grows because of it,” explains Dr. Sears. “Without DHA, our brains would

produce DHA. Dr. Sears uncovered that sometime during the 1990s, fish farmers stopped giving their animals a natural, DHArich diet and began feeding them a diet that was 70% vegetarian. “It became too expensive for farmers to feed fish what they’d eat in the wild,” explains Dr. Sears. “And since more than 80% of fish oil comes from farms, it’s no Why the ‘brain fuel’ ingredient in fish oil is slowly drying up. wonder the country is experithrough memory formula, encing a memory crisis. Most this oil in any stores.” Omega Rejuvenol. people’s brains are shrinking MORE IMPRESSIVE and they don’t even know it.” WHERE TO FIND RESULTS

“Since fish farmers are depriving these animals of their natural diet, ALA levels “Unfortunately, it’s almost in fish oil are going up, while impossible to boost levels of DHA levels are being cut in DHA simply by eating more half. fish or fish oil,” explains Dr. When asked, what can Sears. “DHA in fish oil has people do to improve their plummeted over the years. memory and brain function And it’s being replaced by another compound. One that in the most effective way poscan cause memory failure sible? Dr. Sears replied, “Find a quality DHA that doesn’t and brain fog.” come from a farmed source. The ingredient Dr. Sears is Only this will help improve referring to is called ALA — memory by growing the brain a compound found in cheap, significantly bigger.” grocery store fish oil. Studies Dr. Sears and his team have shown that even modhave been working tirelessly erate levels of ALA can eat away at your memory and for the last 24-months developing a unique brain-boostmake you forgetful. ing formula called Omega PEOPLE’S BRAINS ARE Rejuvenol. It’s made from the SHRINKING AND THEY most powerful source of DHA DON’T EVEN KNOW IT in the ocean, squid and krill Fish farming has caused — two species that cannot be DHA levels to plummet and farmed. ALA levels to rise, according According to Dr. Sears, to Dr. Sears. these are the purest and most “In order to produce DHA,” he explains, “fish need to eat a natural, marine diet, like the one they’d eat in the wild.” Without a marine-rich diet, most fish won’t

potent sources of DHA in the world, because they haven’t been tampered with. “Omega Rejuvenol is sourced from the most sustainable fishery in Antarctica. You won’t find

Already, the formula has sold more than 27,000 bottles. And for a good reason, too. Satisfied customers can’t stop raving about the memory-boosting benefits of quality-sourced DHA oil.


To secure bottles of this brain-booster, buyers should contact the Sears Health Hotline at 1-800-691-1192 within the next 48 hours. “It takes time to manufacture these bottles,” says Dr. Sears. “The “I see a noticeable increase Hotline allows us to ship the in my brain function. I’m product directly to customers experiencing a noticeable who need it most.” increase in my concentraDr. Sears feels so strongly tion level and productivity throughout the day,” says sat- about this product, he is offering a 100%, money-back isfied customer, Timothy B. guarantee on every order. “It’s great to remember “Send back any used or uneveryone who played in the used bottles within 90 days ‘75 World Series. My memory and I’ll rush you a refund,” has never been sharper,” says says Dr. Sears. Mike T. The Hotline is taking or“After the first time I took ders for the next 48 hours. it, I experienced mental clarAfter that, the phone number ity and focus. I noticed my will shut off to allow for inmental function improve and ventory restocking. I could concentrate better and Call 1-800-691-1192 to sebe more productive throughcure your limited supply of out the day,” raves John F. Omega Rejuvenol. Readers of And 70-year-old Mark K. this newspaper immediately says, “My focus and memory qualify for a steep discount, are back to age-30 levels.” but only if they call within These are just a handful the first 24 hours. To take of the thousands of reviews advantage of this great offer Dr. Sears receives on a regu- use Promo Code OMCO0122 lar basis thanks to his break- when you call.





My 3 year old was misbehaving

CCL gets away to the beach in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, with Poudre Valley REA consumer-members Sherri and Jerry Copple.

Catherine Blanton stands with CCL in front of the Department of the Navy in Naples, Italy. She is a consumer-member of San Isabel Electric.

during a family walk and kept on putting a stick in my 7-year-old daughter’s face. I told him several times to stop or he would lose his TV privileges. He didn’t stop so I told him that we would hang out in his room for a time out. When I asked why his listening ears weren’t working, he paused and said, “There was a power outage.” Grace Borlee, Fort Collins Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association

While visiting relatives in Louisville,

Mark and Laura Kochan take a selfie with CCL atop the cliffs of Dunmore East, outside Waterford, Ireland. They are consumer-members of Mountain View Electric Association. Karen Goss captures a photo of her grandkids, Andee, MaeBelle, and West Quilico, with CCL at Six Flags in Georgia. Karen is a consumer-member of Sangre de Cristo Electric Association.

Mountain Parks Electric consumer-member Randy Hodgson snaps a photo of his grandsons with CCL on the beach in Lahaina, Hawaii.

WINNER: Mountain View Electric Association consumer-member Mike Zirkle poses with Colorado Country Life in Belize.

Take Your Photo with Your Magazine and Win! It’s easy to win with Colorado Country Life. Simply take a photo of someone (or a selfie!) with the magazine and email the photo and your name and address to info@ We’ll draw one photo to win $25 each month. The next deadline is Tuesday, January 14. Name, address and co-op must accompany photo. See all of the submitted photos on Facebook at

Kentucky, I asked my 6-year-old great-niece if she knew where she lived. She said yes and recited her address to me. I told her that I lived in Colorado and said, “Let’s get a map and I’ll show you where that is.” She responded, “We don’t need a map — just get in the car and tell it where to go!” Barbara Allen, Colorado Springs Mountain View Electric Association consumer-member

My kids are no strangers to their

Dad leaving for work on an airplane. He’s usually away for several weeks, so, in the past after dropping him off, we would stop for a treat to dry the tears. On his most recent departure, we asked, like we always do, if they wanted to accompany us on the ride to the airport to drop him off. The 4 year old first replied, “No.” However, after a few minutes of contemplation, he looked at me and asked, “Wait, Mom! If I go and I cry, can we get donuts?” Who can say no to that? Tamara Wineland, Colorado Springs Mountain View Electric Association consumer-member

We pay $15 to each person who submits a funny story that’s printed in the magazine. At the end of the year we will draw one name from those submitting funny stories and that person will receive $200. Send your 2022 stories to Colorado Country Life, 5400 Washington St., Denver, CO 80216 or email Please include the name of your electric cooperative and don’t forget to include your mailing address, so we can send you a check. COLOR ADO COUNTRY LIFE JANUARY 2022



STAFF FAVORITES Discover CCL staff’s favorite Colorado products and places Photo courtesy Jeffrey Beall

A Museum Worth the Stop Visit the Overland Trail Museum just off Interstate 76 in Sterling for a nostalgic trip through the history of Colorado’s eastern plains and the Overland branch of the Oregon Trail. Recommended by Publisher/Editor Mona Neeley, the museum houses a varied collection of historic items in its main buildings, including an extensive look back at rural electrification, and features a “village” that allows visitors to experience a one-room schoolhouse, a country church, a general store, a granary barn and a machine shed. For more information, visit

A Saucy Staple for the Kitchen Whether you’re watching the big game or merely craving a bar-food snack, wings are a great go-to. Blonde Beard’s Chicken & Waffles Buffalo Sauce slathers on sauciness Production Manager Cassi Gloe loves to devour. Inspired by the Southern dish, this sauce is milder in heat with notes of maple syrup. If you want to pick up the punch a bit, then the IPA Buffalo Sauce made with Upslope’s India Pale Ale will give your palate a spicy yet refreshing flavor. Denver-based Blonde Beard’s takes pride in using real butter and simple, one-of-a-kind ingredients. It’s the butter that gives these sauces their richness and thick consistency. Visit to see and purchase their complete line of sauces.

If ever you’re looking for a fun family getaway, Amy Higgins doesn’t have enough wonderful things to say about Sylvan Lake in Eagle County. The contributing writer and her family have created magical memories there, thanks to the pristine landscape, serene hiking trails and camp accommodations. And the fishing is praiseworthy — even the littlest littles can reel in a commendable catch. The area allows camping, offers cabins and yurts, and welcomes leashed canines. For information, visit

Sunshine in a Jar Denver-based small-batch candlemaker, Sunday Candle Co., offers clean-burning candles that are the perfect way to add a subtle scent to your home. Sunday Candle’s best-selling scent El Sol is warm and inviting and “is the closest thing to actual sunshine in a jar,” Editorial Assistant Kylee Coleman says. Since smell-o-screen technology isn’t here yet, read through the website descriptions to find a new scent to try. If you can’t decide which scent is right for you and your space, order a scent flight — eight tealights of Sunday Candle Co.’s custom year-round scents to try before you buy a full-sized candle. Or find a local retailer and do some in-person sniffing. For more information, visit

Photo courtesy Sunday Candle Co.


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Tri-State is a not-for-profit power supplier to cooperatives and public power districts in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.