February 2016 Snow geese come in for a landing in a stock photo.
E lectric cooperatives begin work with this year’s Colorado General Assembly
ven-baked goodies outshine O pre-boxed candies
Plan the right plants in the right place; Beware of gardening blunders
12 NewsClips 14 Lights Out
ore than 50 years after the northeast M blackout, challenges remain
16 Feathered Skies
This month’s online extras ➤ FIND more ways to enjoy winter on the website calendar
Surprisingly, the tenacious ‘bull’ bluegill species get little press
➤ L EARN how to be prepared for an electric blackout
25 Energy Tips
HECK the full schedule for Lamar’s ➤C High Plains Snow Goose Festival
29 Funny Stories 30 Discoveries
Birders find Colorado’s flyway a migrating paradise
➤D ISCOVER more sweet chocolate recipes from Goldy’s Kitchen ➤ S EARCH previous editions by clicking on “Issues” under “More”
30 million people were affected by the Great Northeast Blackout in 1965
the High Plains Snow Goose Festival is introduced in Lamar
online dating sites in the United States, according to Online Dating Magazine
The official publication of the Colorado Rural Electric Association || Volume 47, Number 02 COMMUNICATIONS STAFF: Mona Neeley, CCC, Publisher/Editor@303-455-4111; email@example.com Cassi Gloe, Designer; firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING: Kris Wendtland@303-902-7276, email@example.com; NCM@800-626-1181 SUBSCRIPTIONS: firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORIAL: Denver Corporate Office, 5400 Washington Street, Denver, CO 80216; Phone: 303-455-4111 • Email: email@example.com • Website: coloradocountrylife.coop • Facebook: facebook.com/COCountryLife • Twitter: @COCountryLife Colorado Country Life (USPS 469-400/ISSN 1090-2503) is published monthly for $9/$15 per year by Colorado Rural Electric Association, 5400 N. Washington Street, Denver, CO 80216. Periodical postage paid at Denver, Colorado. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Colorado Country Life, 5400 N. Washington Street, Denver, CO 80216 Publication of an advertisement in Colorado Country Life does not imply endorsement by any Colorado rural electric cooperative or the Colorado Rural Electric Association. 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.
2016 Legislative Session
Electric cooperatives begin work with this year’s Colorado General Assembly
BY KENT SINGER || CREA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR || KSINGER@COLORADOREA.ORG
The Colorado legislature began this year’s legislative session comes to co-op board elections and other January 13, marking the 140th consecutive year that the General matters. This year, we are proposing a bill Assembly has met since statehood in 1876. that would make two minor tweaks to the Since each General Assembly meets for two years, the 2016 co-op board election law. session is also known as the second regular session of the 70th The current co-op election law states Colorado General Assembly. The voters of Colorado approved a that when co-op member-owners vote by 120-day limit on the length of legislative sessions back in 1988, so mail in board elections, they must place the legislature will adjourn this year on May 11. their ballots in a security envelope in As usual, this year’s legislative session began with speeches by addition to the return envelope. While Kent Singer the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President of the the law does not say that ballots must Senate, as well as the minority leaders in both houses. All of these be invalidated if they are not in the security envelope, we want elected leaders described their goals for the 2016 session and their to make it clear that signed ballots are valid and will be counted wish lists of policy objectives. whether or not they are in a security envelope. This is simply an Predictably, given the fact that the Senate has a Republican maeffort to make sure as many votes as possible are counted in co-op jority and the House has a Democrat majority, the leaders of the board elections. two houses differed in terms of their prioriThe second part of our proposed bill would ties for the state. The one thing that is clear clear up a provision of the co-op election law is that the only bills that will be successful that was changed back in 2010. In House Bill in 2016 are those that can garner bipartisan 10-1098, a provision was added that said all support. candidates for the board of directors “shall” Colorado proved over recent years that have an opportunity to be present to observe we are truly a “purple” state, meaning that the tabulation of the ballots. However, that bill we have nearly equal numbers of Republialso required co-ops to use an “independent can, Democrat and unaffiliated voters. This third party” to count ballots “when practicable.” political diversity is evident in the state legSince some of our co-ops are using independent islature where the Republicans have an 18-17 firms from out of state to count the ballots, it is “I believe both of these majority in the state Senate and the Demoimpractical for the candidates to travel out of changes are commonsense crats have a 34-31 majority in the House of state to actually observe this process. Representatives. So, we are proposing a change to this proviimprovements to the co-op At the Colorado Rural Electric Associasion to make it clear that if a co-op uses a third board election law that tion, we will once again be vigilant in terms party to collect and count the ballots in a board will honor as many votes of monitoring the bills that are introduced election, the candidates are not entitled to in this year’s legislative session to make sure observe the tabulation, but they are entitled to as possible and clarify how that the autonomy of Colorado’s electric inspect the ballots after the tabulation. ballots are to be handled co-ops is maintained. Since each of the 100 I believe both of these changes are commonmembers of the General Assembly may sense improvements to the co-op board election when third parties are used.” sponsor up to five bills (more in the case of law that will honor as many votes as possible Kent Singer delayed bills), we will be reading and analyzand clarify how ballots are to be handled when ing hundreds of pieces of legislation to deterthird parties are used. mine if we have any concerns from the co-op The co-ops have bipartisan support for our perspective. These bills could deal with energy policy issues, such co-op election bill with Sen. Kevin Grantham (R) as the prime as renewable energy or energy efficiency; or they could deal with Senate sponsor and Rep. Dominick Moreno (D) as the prime issues like requirements for motor vehicles or perhaps workers’ House sponsor. compensation. Since electric co-ops are small businesses, legislaWe look forward to working with the 140th edition of the Colotive changes can impact our operations in many different ways. rado General Assembly on this and other bills. We will also be sponsoring a bill of our own this year. While electric co-ops are not under the jurisdiction of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for rates like the investor-owned Kent Singer, Executive Director utilities are, we are still subject to certain requirements when it
[ letters] Travels With CCL The year 2015 has been exceptional. We drove from Cheyenne to Key West (6,000 miles) but forgot to take the magazine. Then we went to London, Bristol and Paris, spending a week in each. Again, no magazine. Then it was Alaska in July and we remembered the magazine. And I remembered the magazine on the trip to Ireland (see photo). I have put a magazine in our suitcases and backpacks for (future trips). Carol Enderson, High West member Editor’s Note: Colorado Country Life loves receiving the photos of readers with their magazine, no matter where they travel. See the 2015 photos at http://on.fb.me/1PdPXh8.
Looking Back I was wondering if there is a way to get a copy of a previous article. My family and I were talking about the man who started the NORAD Tracks Santa program. Years ago, I was my son’s Boy Scout leader and arranged for them to sing Christmas carols and visit residents at an assisted living center (where Col. Harry Shoup, who started the tracking program, lived). I went on the Internet to research (the NORAD program) and found your article, “Tracking Magic,” which mentions a Scout troop coming to the assisted living center. I think that was my troop. I want the article to share with my children and younger children. Melissa Nunez, via email
Book Winner I enjoy reading Colorado Country Life and I feel blessed to be a part of our rural electric co-op here in Meeker. Again, thank you for my book, Mrs. Gulliver’s Travails. Sherry Overton, Meeker
GOT A COMMENT? Send your letter to the editor by mail to Colorado Country Life, 5400 Washington St., Denver, CO 80216 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
February Through February 27 Fort Collins “Global Lens of Fine Photography” Exhibit Global Village Museum 970-221-4600 globalvillagemuseum.org February 6 Granby Ranch 2 Ranch XC Ski Trek Granby Ranch 970-887-0547 • grandnordic.org February 10 Cortez “Amazing Authors” Appearance Cortez Public Library 6 pm • 970-565-8117 February 11 Colorado Springs “Cheyenne Mountain at 50” Heritage Lecture and Exhibit Opening Western Museum of Mining & Industry 6 pm • 719-488-0880 February 12 Aspen “Recycled Percussion” Concert Wheeler Opera House 5:30 pm wheeleroperahouse.com February 12 Boulder “Penny & Red: the Life of Secretariat’s Owner” Documentary Showing Chautauqua Community House 7:30 pm • chautauqua.com February 12-14 Loveland Fire and Ice Festival Along 4th Street lovelandfireandice.com February 13 Creede Winter Boomtown Improv Comedy Creede Repertory Theatre 7 and 9 pm 719-658-2540 x233 February 13 Fort Collins Winter Farmers Market Opera Galleria 9 am-1 pm nocofoodcluster.com 6
February 13 Grand Lake “Tours and Treats” Special Event Kaufman House Museum 1-4 pm • 970-627-8324 February 13 Longmont “Mario the Peddler” Theater Performance Longmont Museum 3 and 7:30 pm • 303-651-8374 February 13 Pueblo “Rapunzel” Theater Performance Children’s Playhouse Theater 1 pm • 719-295-7200 February 13-14 Silverton Skijoring Racing Event Notorious Blair Street 12 pm • silvertonskijoring.com February 14 Winter Park Cupid’s Revenge Snowshoe Race Hideaway Park 10 am • playwinterpark.com February 19-20 Durango “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” Theater Performance Durango Arts Center 7:30 pm • durangoarts.org February 19 Fraser Pregnancy Resource Connection Banquet Young Life-Crooked Creek Camp 6 pm • 970-887-3617 February 19 Georgetown Devil’s Gate History Club Presentation Georgetown Community Center 7 pm • 303-569-2840 February 20-21 Cripple Creek Ice Festival Bennett Avenue visitcripplecreek.com February 20 Denver “Vegetable Gardening 101” Class Denver Botanic Gardens 1-3 pm • botanicgardens.org
February 27 Rocky Mountain Raptor Program Gala Auction, Fort Collins, 5 pm Celebrate raptors and the work of the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program at this annual fundraising event featuring live raptors, delicious food and a live and silent auction. Tickets cost $60. For more information, call 970-484-7756 or visit rmrp.org.
February 20 Kremmling Ice Fishing Contest Wolford Reservoir kremmlingchamber.com
February 28 Copper Special Olympics Copper Mountain coppercolorado.com
February 20 Loveland Antique and Collectible Toy Show and Sale First National Bank Exhibition Building 9 am-3 pm • 970-667-9655
February 29-March 5 Vail Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships Vail Mountain vail.com
February 24 Pagosa Springs Local Appreciation Day Wolf Creek Ski Area 970-264-5639 wolfcreekski.com February 27 Colorado Springs Learn How to Get Published Workshop Western Museum of Mining & Industry 9 am-1 pm • 719-488-0880 February 27 Fort Collins High Plains Landscape Workshop The Gardens on Spring Creek 8:30 am-3:30 pm 970-416-2486 February 27 Littleton Winter Duck Walk Hudson Gardens and Event Center 8-11 am • 303-797-8565 x306 February 28 Beaver Creek Snowshoe Racing McCoy Park 8:30 am beavercreekrunningseries.com
March 3-5 Denver “The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee” Theater Performance MSU Denver Studio Theatre 7:30 pm • ahec.edu/boxoffice March 4-5 Colorado Springs “Comedy Tonight” Philharmonic Pops Revue Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts 7:30 pm • 719-520-7469 March 8 Denver Energy & Cleantech Career Fair Sports Authority Field at Mile High 1-5 pm • coloradocleantech.com
SEND CALENDAR ITEMS TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE TO: CALENDAR Colorado Country Life 5400 N. Washington St. Denver, CO 80216 Fax to 303.455.2807 or email calendar@ coloradocountrylife.org. Items will be printed on a space available basis. For more information on these and other events, visit coloradocountrylife.coop. coloradocountrylife.coop
WHITE RIVER ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION
[White River] The Power Behind Your Power BY ALAN MICHALEWICZ | | GENER AL MANAGER | | AMICH@WREA.ORG
Every day, White River Electric Association is hard an affordable price. at work to make sure all members have the electric It also takes a whole lot of “stuff” to operate an power they need at the best possible price. And electric co-op, such as poles, wires, transformers and behind the scenes, White River Electric is working many other items that you may not see. This is why with a network of cooperatives to make that happen. we partnered with other co-ops to create Western White River Electric is a part of Tri-State GeneraUnited Electric Supply Corporation. The power of tion and Transmission, which generates the power this co-op allows us to have quick access to all the to 44 other co-ops in the region. We helped create materials we need at the best price. this second tier co-op so we have more control over White River Electric Association is also a member Alan J. Michalewicz power supply and pricing. of Touchstone Energy, a nationwide alliance of 750 It also takes a lot of money to run an electric co-op, so when local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives. This participation we need to borrow capital, we turn to either the National Rural allows us access to a wealth of informational materials. It also Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation or CoBank. Both allows us to benchmark our performance in comparison with of these organizations are also cooperatives. CFC is owned by other co-ops so that we can learn from others as we constantly electric co-ops throughout the country, and CoBank is owned by strive to serve you better. electric and agricultural co-ops nationwide. WREA is also part of Basin Electric’s Security and Response As you know, every month we produce an electric bill that we Services, which allows White River Electric to answer your calls send to you either electronically or through regular mail. We 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. use National Information Solutions Cooperative to ensure we And we are members of the Colorado Rural Electric Associacan apply the latest technology, help lower your energy costs and tion, which provides us with representation at the State Capitol, send timely, accurate bills to you. safety services, educational programs and communications asNo business can operate without several different types of sistance. insurance, such as general liability, auto and workers’ compensaSo, while you are a member of one electric co-op, you are actution. So once again, along with other electric cooperatives across ally connected to many other co-ops. And being connected to the country, we are members of Federated Rural Electric Insurthis cooperative network ensures your needs are met in the most ance Exchange. This allows us to maintain reliable coverage at efficient and cooperative way possible.
STORM SUPPLY CHECKLIST Assembling supplies before a storm arrives is one of the keys to weathering a winter storm emergency. Make sure your supply kit includes: ✔ Flashlights with fresh batteries. ✔ Matches for lighting gas stoves or clean-burning heaters. ✔ Wood for a properly ventilated fireplace. ✔ First aid kit, prescription medicines and baby supplies. ✔ Food that can be kept in coolers and a manual can opener. ✔ A landline telephone and/or fully charged cellular phone. ✔ Bottled drinking water. ✔ Battery-powered emergency lights and radio. coloradocountrylife.coop
[White River] Co-op Members Benefit From Renewables, Energy Efficiency BY DAN RIEDINGER
Electric power companies across the nation rely on a variety of fuels to produce electricity. Electric co-ops depend heavily on coal because cooperatives built many of their power plants during a period when the federal government mandated the use of coal through the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act and during the oil wars of the 1970s. But that’s only part of the story. Co-ops have emerged as leaders — even recognized by the Obama administration — in bringing the benefits of renewable resources and energy efficiency to consumer members. That’s certainly the case here at White River Electric. Rural America boasts a rich abundance of renewable resources — wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydropower — making co-ops ideally suited to develop these resources. And co-ops are. More than 900 rural electric co-ops provide electricity generated by renewable energy resources because that’s what memberowners want. And we are proud to be among them by introducing the Meeker Solar Garden to member-owners in midspring of 2016. Co-ops aggressively added renewable energy capacity to the rural electric grid. Co-ops already own or purchase about 16.5 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, and they plan to add more than 2 gigawatts of capacity in the near future. That’s roughly enough energy to power three to four million homes. With respect to solar energy, member-owned electric cooperatives have nearly 240 megawatts of solar capacity on line or on the drawing board across the country. Not-forprofit electric co-ops develop solar for one reason only: to serve you, the members. Co-ops are bringing solar to regions of
the country where this technology was written off as unprofitable. And when it comes to energy efficiency, often referred to as the “fifth fuel,” co-ops have a similar story to tell. Co-ops promote energy efficiency as a way to keep members’ bills low. That’s the case here at White River Electric. Now, like many other co-ops, WREA is using efficiency as a strategic tool to offset the impact of increased demand for electricity that otherwise can lead to higher costs. Participation among co-ops is huge. Nationally, 82 percent of electric co-ops offer some type of efficiency program. Many include rebates for efficient appliances and other incentives. Co-ops are piloting new technologies that will help you reduce electricity use without compromising comfort or convenience, such as thermostats that can be programmed using your smartphone and smart water heaters. Armed with this information,
WREA’s member services professionals can help ensure you get a return on your energy investment in the form of lower bills. White River also offers members rebates on the purchase of qualifying Energy Star appliances and LED bulbs. America’s electric cooperatives worked for decades to provide an affordable and reliable supply of electricity to member-owners. That’s one thing that will never change. But how electric co-ops produce and meet the growing demand for electricity has changed considerably, and it will continue to evolve. Electric co-ops played a leading role in the country’s energy transformation, and they will continue to lead with the aim of meeting members’ needs.
ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION MAILING ADDRESS P.O. Box 958 Meeker, CO 81641-0958 STREET ADDRESS 668 Market Street Meeker, CO 81641 970-878-5041 [phone] • 970-878-5766 [fax] www.wrea.org [web] BOARD OF DIRECTORS William H. Jordan, president Hal W. Pearce, vice president Richard L. Parr, secretary Stan B. Wyatt, treasurer Gary H. Dunham Ronald K. Hilkey Richard R. Welle Alan J. Michalewicz, general manager
Dan Riedinger writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
ITâ€™S SCHOLARSHIP SEASON AT WREA White River Electric Association is currently accepting scholarship applications from graduating high school seniors whose parents or guardians are members of WREA. Applications must be submitted to the WREA office by February 11, 2016, at 4:30 p.m. to be considered for an interview. Visit www.wrea.org then click on the Members Area/ Youth Opportunities tab for more information.
Get money to help with school!
Co-op Emphasis on Safety Earns Top Award
Y-W Electric in Akron among elite honored with Circle of Safety Award
A Gov Appoints New PUC Commissioner Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed Frances Koncilja to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in January. She replaces former La Plata Electric board member Pam Patton of Durango, who served on the commission since 2012. Koncilja, a Colorado native, is originally from Pueblo. She has been a trial lawyer in the Denver area since 1972, handling a broad range of criminal, commercial, civil and bankruptcy disputes. “I am honored and humbled that the governor is nominating me to serve on the PUC,” Koncilja said. “The decisions of the PUC have a huge impact on the lives and well being of Coloradans, as well as the environment and economic health of our businesses.” While Colorado’s electric co-op rates are not regulated by the PUC, co-ops are under PUC jurisdiction when it comes to service territory designations and member complaints.
A small eastern plains electric coop was among an elite group of 39 Pinnacol Assurance policyholders recently honored for their exemplary performance in safety, loss control and financial and claims management. With the award are (left to right) Operations Manager Pinnacol’s Circle Rodney Dunker, HR Manager Marjie Hottinger, General of Safety Award Manager Terry Hall, Pat Stephens and Terry Leve of was presented to Y-W Pinnacol Assurance and Heather Wilt and Tom Terry of Electric Association Keller-Lowry Insurance. and other leading For eight years, Pinnacol’s Circle of Safety organizations across Colorado after they met Award has recognized that exceptional a list of 10 stringent criteria. risk management is the result of a circle “These organizations represent the diverse of many people working together. From industries that drive Colorado’s economy, top management and frontline employees including construction, health care, oil to Pinnacol representatives and the and gas, manufacturing and agriculture,” policyholders’ agents, everyone plays a said Phil Kalin, Pinnacol’s president and role in making Colorado workplaces safer. chief executive officer. “Urban and rural, These Circle of Safety winners embrace risk large and small, they have demonstrated management and get their employees home that a commitment to safety and sound safe every day. risk management practices helps to keep This is the third year that Y-W Electric Colorado workers safe, productive and earned this prestigious award. Learn more healthy wherever their job site might be.” about it by watching the video at http://bit. ly/1Q5BbOi.
Ag Forum Focuses on Next Generation of Agriculture
The February 18 Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture will explore how the state can best prepare a next generation of top ag producers, who will be tasked with feeding a rapidly growing population while dealing with fewer resources and more challenges. The forum will look at the future of Colorado’s rural communities, labor availability challenges, succession planning for farmers and ranchers, working in multi-
generational workplaces, the changing landscape for women in ag, Colorado’s new cannabis industry, technology, biotechnology, social media and more. Ag is a $40 billion industry in Colorado and one of the top two or three contributors to the state’s economy each year. It employs thousands of residents and, most importantly, helps feed Colorado’s 5 million people. The forum will begin at 8 a.m. at the Renaissance Denver Hotel, 3801 Quebec St. Anyone interested in attending can register at www.governorsagforum.com. coloradocountrylife.coop
[newsclips] Co-op Donation Supports Engineering Program
Engineering students at Fort Lewis College in Durango will benefit from the local electric co-op taking its seventh co-op principle, concern for community, seriously. That co-op, La Plata Electric Association, which serves La Plata and Archuleta counties, recently provided a $200,000 grant to the college for its new Geosciences, Physics and Engineering Hall. La Plata Electric Chief Executive Officer Mike Dreyspring noted that previous engineers who began college at Fort Lewis had to finish their
degrees at other institutions. With the new program, Fort Lewis will be able to completely train the engineering professionals who electric co-ops will need as many in their current workforce retire and the co-ops look for engineers who are familiar with smaller towns and rural communities. The new Fort Lewis facility is set to open in 2016. The funds being donated by LPEA are from the co-op’s unclaimed capital credits. Capital credits are margins that the nonprofit co-op earned over the years, which were returned to members who subsequently did not claim them. Those funds, which essentially belong to the co-op members, will now be used within those members’ community.
Use CREA’s App to Contact Legislators Your senators and representatives reconvened at the Colorado Capitol for the 2016 legislative session. You can stay in touch with them using CREA’s Legislative Directory app. Using either Google Play or the App Store, search for “CREA 2016 Colorado Legislature” and download the app for only 99 cents. Printed copies of the directory are also available for $1 each at email@example.com or by calling 303-455-4111.
CREA ENERGY INNOVATIONS SUMMIT SET FOR SEPTEMBER Save the date: The Colorado Rural Electric Association will host its annual Energy Innovations Summit Monday, September 12 at the downtown Denver Westin Hotel. Watch crea.coop for registration information this summer.
Independent Analysts See Strengths in the Co-op Business Model
Electric co-ops are good businesses. Just ask an executive of hard-nosed Wall Street credit research group Fitch Ratings. Dennis Pidherny, managing director and head of public power, said in a company news release last year: “The hallmark of the electric co-op sector has been its financial strength and stability.” Or take a look at the nationally recognized rankings by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Last year’s ACSI gave electric co-ops a score of 80 — other utilities scored 74. “It’s a business model that works,” says Mel Coleman, president of the board for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The business model Coleman refers to is a utility owned by the same people who buy its electricity. As
a not-for-profit business, all of a co-op’s resources go to keep prices low and quality of service high. “We have financial targets to meet to stay in business, but we’re not driven by the need for excessive profits or stock value,” Coleman says. “The reason we’re in business is all about member satisfaction in the price they pay and the quality of the product they get.” The ACSI score of 80 for electric co-ops compares with 74 for investor-owned utilities, which are governed by investors wanting a financial return on their investment. There’s a third type of utility ownership, municipal utilities, which are owned by a unit of government, like a city. Last year, municipal utilities received an ACSI score of 73. While customer satisfaction provides one measure of business success, analysis by financial investors gives a different perspective.
Calculate Your Space Heater Cost
Hours Used Most space heaters are 1,500 watts. If you’re operating Wattage per Month a space heater 8 hours a day and your rate is $0.12 per kWh, multiply wattage by hours to get your cost: 1,500 watts x 240 hours per month x $0.12 per kWh divided by 1,000= $43.20 per month
A leading expert on co-op financing is Sheldon Petersen, chief executive officer of CFC, which is short for the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, itself a co-op. “Our business motivation is different,” Petersen says, comparing co-ops to investorowned utilities. “Our objectives are not to maximize the rate of return; our objectives are to minimize costs to the members.” Petersen says investors view co-ops “as a stable industry that can withstand a lot of the stress in business cycles.” And the Wall Street investment rating firms back that up by regularly giving co-ops strong ratings of A and AA. A 2014 Fitch Ratings report that declared electric coops fundamentally sound, said: “Almost a century after the passage of the Rural Electrification Act, the sector remains largely true to its core mission of providing lowcost, reliable electric service to its member-owners.”
Co-op’s kWh rate/1000
More than 50 years after the Great Northeast Blackout, challenges remain
BY RICHARD G. BIEVER
When power use rose along the eastern Great Lakes in November 50 years ago, a small safety device prematurely tripped, as it was mistakenly set to do, and shut down its transmission line. The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 began. Equipment down the interconnected lines overloaded. The failures rippled, then cascaded out. Within minutes, most of New York state and parts of seven neighboring states and Canada were left in the dark. Almost everything electrical shut down over 80,000 square miles. The blackout affected some 30 million people and lasted about 13 hours. “Where were you when the lights went out?” became a catchphrase for the decade and even the title of a big-screen Doris Day comedy about crazy events set in motion that night. But to utilities and policymakers on both sides of the Great Lakes, the blackout was no laughing matter. It exposed issues in the humongous North American electrical highway called “the grid,” the largest machine mankind ever built, that interconnects power generators, power lines and the
end-use electric consumers. “That was the first blackout of that scale in the United States and really got the attention of our government,” said Barry Lawson, associate director of power delivery and reliability with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “It was a significant wake-up call for everybody.” Congress demanded improvements. Utilities that generated and transmitted electricity came together to create a voluntary organization — the National Electric Reliability Council — to establish standards and policies and provide peer oversight. “It put into place a lot of practices and policies that the industry agreed to do,” Lawson said.
“That was the first blackout of that scale in the United States and really got the attention of our government. It was a significant wake-up call for everybody.” Barry Lawson, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Since then, innovations in technology allowed for better gathering of data and monitoring of the flow of power across the grid. But at the same time, changing laws and regulations fundamentally shifted the way the grid and utilities operate. A whole new set of challenges arose affecting the largest power producers down to the smallest distribution cooperatives. A patchwork of design North America’s electric grid may be the largest interconnected machine on earth and truly a marvel of engineering, but it wasn’t initially designed that way. It was created as needed over the course of 100 years, one section at a time. Today’s grid includes approximately 3,000 utilities and other entities operating 10,000 power plants sending energy across 450,000 miles of transmission lines. The power grid envisioned in the 1900s was not built for today’s population and the profusion of electrical devices that now permeate our lives. The grid is now stretched to capacity.
[industry] Girding of the grid After NERC came along in 1968, overall reliability improved for 30 years. Congress tossed the monkey wrench of unintended consequences into the already complicated grid works in 1992 when it deregulated the generation of electricity. Competitive independent generators with no transmission operations or load-serving obligations entered the wholesale marketplace. Owners of existing transmission lines were required to allow open access to the network. By the late 1990s, voluntary compliance with NERC standards and policies became inconsistent. New reliability problems began showing with outages in the Western grid. Lawmakers and utility industry folks talked about establishing additional oversight. “It was not clear if this voluntary regulatory group using peer pressure would be able to continue to ensure the high level of grid reliability that the utility industry provided,” Lawson said. That answer became clearer August 14, 2003, when a series of malfunctions, mishaps and mistakes escalated into the worst blackout in North American history. It started when heavily loaded transmission lines sagged into overgrown trees in northern Ohio, causing those lines to fail. Alarms to warn operators of the growing malaise malfunctioned, and the severity of the situation went unrecognized until it was too late. Just as in 1965, a blackout cascaded across the Northeast. Some 300 transmission lines failed. Well over 50 million people were affected. An estimated $10 billion economic loss was attributed to the blackout. The 2003 blackout pushed reforms into hyper speed mode Lawson said. “Congress finally said, ‘We need something with teeth that’s mandatory and enforceable.’” The ensuing Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority over reliability. FERC chose NERC as the oversight organization, giving NERC, now called the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, new powers. In 2007, NERC’s 83 Reliability Standards were approved by FERC as the first set of legally enforceable standards for the U.S. bulk power system. In collaboration with NERC, the power
industry adopted and implemented a preventive approach to maintain and improve bulk power system reliability. The idea is to aggressively go after the many small failures, such as maintenance issues, that can aggregate into larger problems. Coming down the lines Even though electricity is at our fingertips almost 100 percent of the time, getting it to our homes and workplaces from where it’s generated is a challenging process. Because large amounts of energy cannot be stored, electricity must be produced as it is used. The grid must respond quickly to shifting demand and continuously generate and route electricity to where it’s needed the most. But significant changes and challenges are coming down the line. Issues affecting the grid include: Age. Parts of the electrical transmission facilities in the United States are many decades old. Given the age, some existing lines have to be replaced or upgraded, and new lines may need to be constructed to maintain the electrical system’s overall reliability.
Renewables. Federal climate change policy will rely on boosting energy efficiency and developing more sources of renewable energy. Renewable energy resources will likely require construction of new transmission lines. Renewable energy resources are typically not near population centers. Transmission lines must be built to move the power to where folks live. Renewables also present intermittency challenges for grid operators. Security. The cyber system is used to control the bulk power system and an attack can cause a blackout just as surely as if the transmission line was taken out of service.
Renewable energy resources will require new transmission lines.
New technology. Upgrades in technology now let consumers connect their own home-generated electricity to the grid, using solar panels or wind generators. The federal government is also investing in smart grid digital technology to more efficiently manage energy resources. The smart grid project also will extend the reach of the grid to access remote sources of renewable energy, such as geothermal power and wind farms. Cost. According to a study done by the Electric Power Research Institute, creating a smart grid could cost up to $476 billion over the next 20 years. Utilities are likely to be stuck with a large chunk of the bill, which could impact consumers’ energy costs. But EPRI noted that there will also be benefits over a 20-year period, including better power reliability, more integration of renewable energy, stronger cyber security and reduced electricity demand.
Are these new challenges capable of creating a cascading blackout on the scale of the one in 2003 or 1965? “You can’t say it could never happen again. There are still things we haven’t planned for or have protections for, or are too costly to plan for,” Lawson said. Utilities, agencies and regulators worked hard to mitigate and eliminate such events and are cautiously optimistic. But fail-safe reliability may never be possible. Weather, the main cause of power outages, always remains a risk. And newer concerns like terrorist acts and cyber attacks only add to the overall complexity and cost of keeping the power flowing. Richard G. Biever is senior editor of Electric Consumer, the electric cooperative magazine for Indiana’s co-ops.
coloradocountrylife.coop to get great tips on how to be prepared for a blackout. FEBRUARY 2016
Feathered Skies W Birders find Colorado’s flyway a migrating paradise BY M A L I A D U R BA N O
“Watching the huge flocks of snow geese swirl down from the sky, amid a cacophony of honking, is a little like standing in a snow globe,” states the All About Birds website from Cornell University. Bird enthusiasts are hoping to experience their own snow globe moment when they flock to the 14th annual High Plains Snow Goose Festival in Lamar for the free festival February 18 to 21. Lamar in Prowers County is along an ancient corridor, designated the Central Flyway in 1948, that runs through the west-central section of the United States and includes Bent, Kiowa, Baca, Wray and Yuma coun-
ties in Colorado. Snow geese and other migrating birds, especially waterfowl, follow broad but well defined migration routes through the flyway each year. The festival began in 2001 when John Koshak, Colorado Parks and Wildlife watchable wildlife coordinator, created the event to educate people about the snow geese that were already wintering in the area. He explains that the snow geese are called “spectacles” because they fly in such huge numbers that are spectacular to watch. “Watching the huge numbers of birds take off from the lake at sunrise is an amazingly incredible sensory experience,” Koshak says. It is one that is worth sharing.
Watching the huge flocks of snow geese swirl down from the sky, amid a cacophony of honking, is a little like standing in a snow globe.
“We decided to do the festival at this time of year obviously because the birds are here, but also to stretch out the tourist season and help the local businesses. The huge flocks of birds provide entertainment here when nothing else is going on.” Brighton residents Sally and Ron Harms attended the Snow Goose Festival numerous times over the past 10 years. The couple, who return every year the weather allows, enjoy seeing other regulars who attend. They all became friends through the years. “Many couples enjoy participating in this hobby together,” Sally says. “They review notes and argue about which bird they are observing while comparing and adding to their Life Lists — something that serious birders maintain to record all the birds they have ever seen.” Snow geese, the featured guests at the festival, were once dwindling in numbers, but recently skyrocketed to become among the most abundant waterfowl on the continent. Koshak further explains that the geese, that summer in the Arctic, began stopping in the lakes in southeastern Colorado rather than flying all the way to the Gulf. “And because the farmers stopped plowing under their fields, the surplus crops provide food for the migrating birds, whose numbers have doubled from three million in 2000 to almost six million now.” Known for their beautiful white plumage, snow geese are found only in North America and make their annual round trip journey of more than 5,000 miles at speeds of 50 mph or more. The snow geese migrate in flocks that
may number into the thousands or even tens of thousands. The spectacular sight of thousands of beautiful white birds often appears as a white cloud rising from the marsh. Spring is not spring for many Colorado birders without a trip to Prowers County, according to the website www.coloradobirding.org. Hot spots like Two Buttes, John Martin and Indian reservoirs, make it hard not to consider this place the epicenter of birding in the southeastern section of the state. There are more than 494 species of birds in Colorado and 440 of them can be seen in Prowers County, according to Koshak, who worked with Colorado Parks and Wildlife from 1997 until he retired in 2014. He has attended every Snow Goose Festival and explains that “birding,” the preferred term for bird watching, is one of the fastest growing recreational activities with over 70 million people participating. Vince Gearhart, with the Lamar Chamber of Commerce, also loves to promote this annual festival and is excited to announce the first Snow Goose Festival photo contest. This year, the categories will be wildlife, landscape, birds and historical in two age groups. Ron enjoys taking photos of the high plains, and he and Sally used to sell photos in a booth at the festival. Photography, like birding, helps you learn to focus on small things as opposed to looking at the big picture, Sally notes. “You learn to look and listen carefully wherever you happen to be.” Everyone is hoping for amazing numbers of birds to fo[continued on page 18]
Palmer will lead a tour to Bent’s Old Fort and Boggsville on Friday, February 19. The fort is a reconstructed 1840s adobe fur trading post used by the Bent brothers to trade blankets and rifles to the Indians in exchange for buffalo robes and beaver pelts. Flour, bacon and whiskey were also desirable commodities The 2012 South Canyon snow geese tour group. that changed hands. The tour will feature re-enactments by [continued from page 17] various employees and volunteers dressed cus on this year. “A few of the lakes in the in period attire and portraying a blackarea have more water than usual this year, smith, a frontier doctor, a buffalo hunter which we hope will attract more birds,” and even Kit Carson, who is portrayed by Gearhart says. “It’s magnificent to see the his great-great-grandson, John Carson. huge flocks rise at sunrise in total chaos.” Frequent festival attendee Norma The birds inhabit the fields during the Verhoeff, amateur birder and photogday, and then spend the night in the reser- rapher, excitedly recalls her captivation voirs. In the morning, they take to the sky. with the festival and its awesome speakers and authors of books on birding that More than birding events she saw over the years. She even has In addition to incredible opportunities to autographs for her personal books. learn about and view birds out in exquisite Verhoeff has been interested in birds scenery, attendees will enjoy abundant since her college ornithology classes. hospitality and stimulating conversation She maintains two big spreadsheets with fellow birding enthusiasts. Beautiof all the birds she personally saw and ful places like Painted Canyon, Carrizo a list of all the birds she and her husCanyon and Cottonwood Canyon provide band observed on their 1,600 acre farm opportunities to also view bighorn sheep, near the John Martin Reservoir. elk, deer, eagles, hawks and ancient In December, she and four girlfriends petroglyphs. Two Buttes Dam and Wildlife participated in the annual Christmas Area and Willow Creek Park are also Bird Count organized by the Audubon popular birding areas in close proximity. Society. Now in its 116th year, the bird History buffs delight in the tour to count is conducted between December the Amache Japanese Internment 14 and January 5. Thousands of Camp, also called the Granada volunteers worldwide conWar Relocation Center, about 17 miles from Lamar, that housed Japanese-Americans during World War II. Pat Palmer, organizing committee member, likes the idea of the Snow Goose Festival because “Lamar is one of the nicest places on earth. We were looking for a reason to bring people to the area to recreate and to enjoy themselves.” He appreciates Male prairie chickens strut and viewing the approximately 450 species stomp to attract a female. of birds that migrate through each year Photos by Josh Melby, Colorado District Wildlife Manager but he is more a historian than a birder. 18
tribute to the early winter bird census by counting all the species they see in a 24-hour period within a 15-mile diameter circle. Verhoeff and her friends saw 100 species at the John Martin Reservoir, a location included in the Snow Goose Festival. These figures provide valuable data to the Audubon Society on bird numbers and migration routes.
Greater Prairie Chicken Tour
Of the 28 wildlife viewing festivals each year in Colorado, another favorite of Koshak’s is the Greater Prairie Chicken Tour, which he attended religiously for the past 24 years. It takes place in the small town of Wray in northeastern Colorado from Friday, March 25 to Sunday, April 17 in two-day segments. Koshak describes the prairie chicken mating festival as a really delightful, fun and endearing experience. “Spectators go out at zero-dark-thirty, or about 4 a.m.,” Koshak explains. They sit in a blind so the birds can’t see them. The blind is a portable trailer with a roof and stadium seating that holds about 20 people. Ardith Hendrix, director of the Wray Museum, organizes nine tours throughout the season, providing the trailers that also provide warmth. “The spectators get there in the dark and wait for the males to walk onto the ‘lek,’ or area where they dance,” Hendrix explains. “The birds get very close to the trailer and are so used to it they sometimes dance on top of it.” The males really work it, according to Koshak, strutting their stuff to attract a female. The entertaining males strut, stomp, boom and cackle, as well as jump and bow — doing whatever it takes to attract a female. They are known for their elaborate courtship rituals and bright orange-colored air sacs that puff up as they fill them with air. When the air is squeezed out, it creates a popping, wheezing sound similar to the sound of blowing over the hole in a soda bottle. The females arrive just before sunup and choose the most impressive male specimens. They go into the bush to mate, and the spectators adjourn to the hosting ranch for a scrumptious breakfast.
More Colorado birds
Many viewing festivals occur in the eastern section of the state because of the natural geographic features coloradocountrylife.coop
One of the best things about birding is that you learn to focus on small things as opposed to looking at the big picture. You learn to look and listen carefully wherever you happen to be. that birds find desirable — abundant wetlands and playa lakes, which are shallow seasonal wetlands. In Colorado, there are more than 2,500 playa wetlands that range in size from less than 1 acre to more than 50 acres. The playas are magnets for water birds that congregate in great numbers during migration, and some even stay all year long. Temporary visitors include plovers, sandpipers, cranes, egrets, gulls and grebes. Koshak shares a story of a man from England who is number seven in the world for the longest Life List. The Brit has seen more than 7,000 species of birds and came to Colorado to add three more to his list. He came here to see rosy-finch, coloradocountrylife.coop
prairie chicken and sage-grouse. The Gunnison sage-grouse was recognized as a new species of bird only 16 years Gunnison sage-grouse. ago and is only found in a small section of Colorado near Gunnison. People from all over the world will come to Sisk-a-dee, the viewing in April, to see Malia Durbano is a freelance writer who one of the rarest North American birds. taught and worked in many places before Pueblo Eagle Day, on February 5, actufinding a new home base in Durango where ally kicks off the season of festivals for she works, writes and watches for birds. wildlife viewing. Bighorn Sheep Day in Colorado Springs will be Saturday, February 13. One of the oldest wildlife festivals in the nation and an amazing spectacle coloradocountrylife.coop to get the full to witness will occur near Monte Vista schedule of Lamar’s High Plains Snow Goose Festival. March 11–13 when the entire population of greater sandhill cranes, between 18,000 and 20,000 birds, stop for more than two months to load up on fuel on their way to their breeding grounds further north. Spectators can enjoy huge flocks dancing in the fields as they welcome spring Enter to win a during the Monte Vista Crane Festival. copy of Life-Size Back in Colorado Springs on May 21, Birds, by Nancy the city celebrates the return of humJ. Hajeski. Send mingbirds with the North Cheyenne your name, address and phone Cañon Hummingbird Experience. number via email or by U.S. mail to: And those are just the birding events during the first few months of the firstname.lastname@example.org year. Get out your calendars, search Colorado Country Life the Internet and consider attending a 5400 Washington St. festival or visiting an area mentioned Denver, CO 80216 here — and don’t forget your binoculars.
DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 16 FEBRUARY 2016
Warm Their Hearts With Sweet Sentiments Oven-baked goodies outshine packaged candies
BY AMY HIGGINS || AHIGGINS@COLORADOCOUNTRYLIFE.ORG
Win a Copy! Enter for your chance to win a copy of Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook. Just send your name, address and phone number to contests@colora docountrylife.org and be sure to include “Goldy’s Kitchen” in the subject line. We will choose a winner on February 7.
Balanced Baking Some areas in your oven may be hotter than others, so rotate your cake once it sets to ensure it is cooking evenly. Same goes for cookies, cupcakes and other baked goods.
It’s no secret that the lion’s share of people adore chocolate, but those Valentine’s Day heart-shaped boxes of chocolate often prove to be disappointing when it comes to taste. Why not make something sweet and heartfelt for your special someone instead? Colorado resident and award-winning mystery author Diane Mott Davidson recently assembled the recipes of the main character of her mystery novels and created a cookbook chock-full of delicious appetizers, entrees, desserts and more. This Valentine’s Day, try baking this chocolate recipe reprinted from Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook: Cooking, Writing, Family, Life.
Crunch Time Cookies 1 cup pecan halves 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature 2 ounces (1/4 cup) cream cheese, at room temperature 1 cup packed dark brown sugar 3/4 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs, at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips 2/3 cup (4 ounces) toffee chips (also know as almond brickle chips) In a large skillet, toast the pecans over low heat, stirring frequently, or until the nuts begin to change color and give off a nutty scent, about 10 minutes. Turn the nuts out onto paper towels and allow them to cool, then chop them roughly and set aside. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until the mixture is very creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat very well, until the mixture is creamy and uniform. Add the granulated sugar and again
beat very well, until you have a uniform, creamy mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Using a large wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture just until combined. Then, stir in the cooled pecans, oats, chocolate chips and toffee bits, blending only until thoroughly mixed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, 3 hours or overnight. When you are ready to make the cookies, take the bowl out of the refrigerator and allow the dough to warm slightly while the oven is preheating. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Measure out the dough by tablespoons and place the cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Place no more than a dozen cookies on each sheet. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are very browned and the centers are no longer soft. Let the cookies set up for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers or in zippered freezer bags. These cookies freeze well. Source: Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook
Visit coloradocountrylife.coop for more delicious chocolate recipes from Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook. 20
STAY IN TOUCH WITH LEGISLATORS
Colorado’s General Assembly is in Session Printed directory with legislative contact info available for only $1 at 303-455-4111 or at email@example.com. Or get the mobile APP now! Download CREA’s Legislative App from Google Play or the APP Store for only 99¢ COLORADO RURAL ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION 5400 WASHINGTON ST. • DENVER, CO 80216 • CREA.COOP
Visualize a Gorgeous Garden Plan the right plants in the right places BY VICKI SPENCER
Many of us begin to feel cabin fever in February. Abundant sunshine and occasional spring-like temperatures tempt us to spend more time outdoors. As much as we are tempted, it’s still too early to begin gardening. The days are short, nighttime temperatures still dip below freezing and there’s no telling how much snow may fall before the gardening season finally arrives. Don’t feel discouraged. Whether you are dreaming about a garden filled with flowers or vegetables, February is the perfect time to turn your dreams into a plan. Plans are important because the first step to successful gardening is to plant the right plant in the right place. But how do you know what is right? Three things to consider are climate, soil and water. Different plants thrive in different climates. For example, plants that grow in Colorado’s eastern plains may not grow well in the high country. Hardiness zone maps are a handy tool for identifying which plants will grow in your area, but you need to exercise caution when using them because not all maps account for the complexities of Colorado’s varied altitude and terrain. The USDA published some good maps at planthardiness.ars.usda.gov. In addition to regional climate differences, you might also have microclimate differences in your own backyard. For instance, a southern facing garden between your house and the driveway might be significantly warmer than a western-facing garden shaded by large willow trees. The next time a warm day beckons, walk around your yard and survey the terrain. Do you see slopes or depressions in the landscape? Are there areas that get more sunshine or appear drier than others? Make note of these differences for your plan. In addition to noting climate, it is also important to identify your soil type. Because Colorado is a semiarid state and has less vegetation than Eastern states, our soils have less organic matter. Front Range soils tend to be heavy clay. Other soils, where the water table is near the surface, may have a lot of alkali content. This is why rhododendrons are so difficult to grow in Colorado. They prefer acidic soil to our heavy clay. You can try to improve nutrients in your soil by adding organic matter, but it is unlikely that you will be able to change soil structure. As my mother used to say, “There is no sense in fighting Mother Nature.” You will have more success if you know your soil type and choose the right plants. If you
don’t know what kind of soil you have, you can get it tested by Colorado State University for a small fee. This soil analysis can provide valuable baseline information for the beginning as well as the seasoned gardener. For more information, go to soiltestinglab.colostate.edu. The third factor to consider is how much water the plants will need. Plants with low moisture requirements are your first defense against Colorado’s dry summers and local water restrictions. Perennials with silvery foliage, such as Russian sage and yarrow, are wise choices for our climate. Sedum is also a good choice as it comes in various colors, textures and heights, adding interest to your garden. After considering climate, soil and water conditions, you are ready to draft your plan. Some people like using graph paper to draw designs scaled to actual dimensions of their garden areas. But you can also use plain paper and create a rough drawing with circles representing areas with different terrain, soil or water conditions. For a sloped area that doesn’t retain water, you might sketch a rock garden with soil-hugging ground cover such as ice plants and drought-resistant succulents such as yucca. Or, if you have a shady area under a deciduous tree, you might want to plant hostas, coleus, impatiens and wax begonias. The main thing to remember is to avoid locating plants with different sun, soil and water requirements next to one another. The design phase is where you can really have fun. Books, magazines, the Internet and your local garden center provide a wealth of information about plants compatible with your climate, soil and water conditions. You can be creative whether designing your garden on the computer or by clipping and pasting photos onto paper. Either way, a plan can help you visualize what your garden will look like in full bloom. Before you know it, winter will be over and you will be ready to start gardening this spring. Vicki Spencer is a master gardener with a long and varied background. A Colorado native, she helped start the Mayor’s Community Garden Program in Denver in the 1970s. She more recently gardened in the high country of Gunnison County.
previous gardening columns at coloradocountrylife.coop/category/living-in-colorado/gardening. coloradocountrylife.coop
Beware of the Five Worst Gardening Blunders BY GEORGE WEIGEL
As you think of spring gardening, remember good gardeners aren’t born with green thumbs that give them mystical powers to make any plant thrive. Gardening is like any endeavor. The more you know, the more success you’re likely to have. Every setback can serve as a learning experience. One way to speed the process is by taking advantage of the knowledge of those who have killed their petunias and juniper trees before you. Here are five of the most important woes that our “foregardeners” would warn you about:
Not improving lousy soil. If you’re starting with soil that’s more of a clay pit, quarry-in-waiting or compacted subsoil left behind by home construction, plan on some remediation. One school of thought advises rototilling or deeply digging the ground to at least 10 or 12 inches deep, then working about 2 inches of compost, rotted leaves or similar organic matter into it. You only need to do this once before planting. From then on, just keep a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic matter over the surface and let the earthworms and microbes be your “soil improvers.” Planting too closely. This common blunder includes planting plants too closely to one another as well as too close to the house. Crowding sets you up for a jungle look within a few years, sets the stage for unnecessary pruning and makes plants more prone to disease since crowded foliage doesn’t dry as well.
Mulching miscues. You can overdo it or under do it with mulch. Too much can cause the same problems as planting too deeply. Too little won’t stop weeds or retain moisture well. Be especially careful not to pack mulch up against the stems and trunks of plants. That can rot the stems and bark and possibly kill the plants. Two to 3 inches of organic mulch is ideal around trees and shrubs. One to 2 inches is fine around flowers. Picking problem-prone plants. Plants have their own particular site preferences (especially when it comes to light and soil moisture), and some are pickier about them than others.
Planting too deeply. This one’s a major killer of trees. Planting deeply doesn’t make a tree less likely to blow over. It’s likely to suffocate the roots and rot the buried bark. Before planting a new tree, identify its “root flare” — the area at the base of the trunk where it begins to slightly widen. Plant so that this flare is just above grade. Don’t “volcano” mulch against tree trunks. It can rot the bark.
A big part of good gardening involves figuring out where each plant will be “happiest.” Just as important is knowing which are the most trouble-prone plants — a lineup that varies from area to area. Check with trusted local experts (extension educators and local garden centers are good starting points), as well as experienced local gardeners and published lists targeted as closely as possible to your area. As for plants that you realize are struggling because you guessed wrong on the site, don’t be afraid to move them — the sooner the better. Most green-thumbed gardeners will tell you they moved every plant in their yard a minimum of three times before they got it right. Now, as seed and gardening catalog’s begin to arrive, is the perfect time to begin the process. George Weigel is a Pennsylvania-based horticulturist, garden consultant, author and newspaper garden columnist. His website is georgeweigel.net. Rototill soil to help stimulate root growth.
A Spotlight on Big, “Bull” Bluegills
Surprisingly, the tenacious species gets little press
BY DENNIS SMITH
Seal your home’s ductwork to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefit from your heating system. Your system won’t have to turn on as often, which saves money on your electric bill. 24
It’s February and there’s still a lot more snow in our future, but I’m so over winter I could cry. While some of my fishing buddies are quite content to squat over holes in the ice jigging for big trout, I’m craving warm summer days, fly rods and a pan full of sizzling bluegill fillets. Bluegills are one of our most prolific game fish — certainly one of the better tasting — and are caught by more Colorado anglers than all other species combined, but trout, bass and walleyes generate most of the angler attention in our state and the majority of ink in our outdoor publications. Maybe that’s because big bluegills aren’t commonly found in the Rocky Mountain West; they’re also more difficult to catch than big trout or bass — a fact serious anglers might find hard to admit. Their casual disregard for big bluegills seems a peculiar bit of irony when you consider that rarity and degree of difficulty are two of the attributes anglers usually prize most when rating game fish. Hard fighting is another, and many anglers will concede that, pound for pound, bluegills can be one of the most tenacious fighters of all. In spite of all they have going for them, Colorado bluegills have an image problem that’s difficult to overlook: Most are small and easily caught. They’re prolific breeders. More often than not they will overrun the food chain in waters where they’re commonly found and render the entire fishery little more than a pond full of hungry runts. There’s not much glory in catching a 4-inch fish that would just as soon eat a radish peel as a red worm. Big bluegills, on the other hand, are fish of a completely different scale. I’m
referring here to those in the 1½–to 2– pound class. Bluegills of this size are usually, though not always, found in deep lakes and reservoirs with thriving populations of predator species. Often referred to as “bull” bluegills by fishermen across the Southern and Midwestern states, they’re secretive and spookier than a herd of rabbits in a field full of coyotes. They can also be extremely selective feeders, a term usually reserved for persnickety trout. If catching little bluegills is easy, catching large ones consistently is a distinct challenge. Here in Colorado where trophy bluegill habitat is at a premium to begin with, simply finding productive bluegill water is the main difficulty. While several of Colorado’s record-class bluegills came from abandoned gravel pits (and these should not be ignored), anglers searching specifically for trophy-class bulls should focus their efforts on bigger waters, especially those with lots of bass, perch or walleyes. A fertile lake with large numbers of predatory species will produce big bluegills. Fertile water supports a variety of foods for the ’gills to feed on, and proper chemistry accelerates growth rates. Lakes rich in limestone, for example, usually grow big fish faster than those lacking it. A shortage of ideal spawning habitat limits breeding to some extent, and predators control overpopulation by eating the young bluegills. Ask other fishermen, wildlife officers, biologists and park rangers if they know where to find big bluegills, and don’t be surprised if they all point you toward well-known bass and walleye lakes.
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[energy tips] Let Me Love You Let me kiss you like the first time, again. Let’s remember when we talked about, “When.” Let me hold you like I did way back then; Let me love you like the first time, again. Now remember how we sang in the lane Or our laughter when it started to rain — The sweet feeling as you whispered my name. I still see you like the first time, again, How I’d write your name on every line, Draw those perfect hearts with our names inside, When we’d say goodnight for hours on end. Then I knew that you’d be more than a friend. Let us venture to a place never been, Live new memories now as lovers and friends, Tell the world that true love never will end. Let me love you like the first time, again. Even though it’s decades since way back then We still are planning out the where and the when. Never, never think that there is an end; Let me love you like the first time again. Marvin Hass December 2009
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY FEBRUARY 14, 2016
COMFORTABLE PETS AND ENERGY BILLS
BY PATRICK KEEGAN
Keeping your pet comfortable while you’re away doesn’t have to take a bite out of your energy bill. Here are a few tips to keep your pet cozy: •A warm, insulated doghouse might be all your outdoor dog needs, except on the coldest days. •M ake sure your indoor pets have a warm place to sleep, like a pet bed with a blanket. Consider giving them a few sleeping options Photo courtesy Freeimages.com/Ryan Bourne throughout your home in different temperature zones, so they can adjust their comfort as needed. A heated pet bed or bed
• I f you have a warmer uses far less energy than running your drafty home or an older pet that heater all day. may appreciate more warmth, a heated pet bed or bed warmer will use far less energy than running your central heating on high all day. This solution is also good for those who keep their pets in the garage and worry about them staying warm enough. •U nique pets, like birds or lizards, that need to be kept in warmer environments should be moved to a room that can be easily kept warm. •W hen purchasing a pet door, make sure it has energy-efficient features like thick construction, weather sealing and the ability to be closed off when not in use. • I f you must leave something on while you’re away to keep your pet from getting “bored,” try soothing music instead of a blaring television. We all love our furry family members, but remember, keeping them comfortable doesn’t mean you have to pay more on your monthly bill. Visit coloradocountrylife.coop to learn more energy-saving tips. Look under the Energy tab for Energy Tips.
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[classifieds] TO PLACE A CLASSIFIED AD Please type or print your ad on a separate paper. Indicate how many months you would like your ad to run and which month to start. There is a minimum of 12 words at $1.63 per word/ month. Be sure to include your full name and address for our records. Check MUST accompany this order or call to pay by credit card. Send your ad before the 10th of the month to: mail: Colorado Country Life 5400 Washington St., Denver, CO 80216 phone: 303.902.7276 fax: 303.455.2807 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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WANTED TO BUY
FEEL GREAT WHILE COUNTING ADS. Win a $25 gift card. Email the number of classifieds on this page and your address to classifieds@ coloradocountrylife.org. Put “February Classifieds” in the subject line. We’ll draw one name February 15 to win.
OWN PROPERTY? NEED INCOME? We’ll rent exclusive hunting rights from you. Looking for antelope, goose, duck, coyote, & prairie dog habitat. Encourage young sportsmen by providing safe, private access. You make the rules. 303-460-0273 (069-04-16)
BUYING AUTOGRAPHS (all kinds), sports cards (pre-1980). Vintage sports and music collectibles (albums, etc.). Cash paid. Established dealer since 1986. Mike 720-334-0206, mmunns1@hotmail. com (245-05-16)
READY TO RETIRE? +-13 acres near Mancos, Co. Trout-stocked canyon lake, community greenhouse, gardens, lots of water, passive solar timber frame home. $525,000. Jim, 970-769-1391, for pictures. (282-03-16)
LEGITIMATE WORK AT HOME opportunity. No sales, investment, risk. Training/website provided. Monthly income plus bonuses, benefits. Call Carrie 303-579-4207, www.workathomeunited.com/ ourabundance (932-02-16)
MACHINERY & PARTS www.sawmillexchange.com SAWMILL EXCHANGE: North America’s largest source of used portable sawmills and commercial equipment for woodlot owners and sawmill operations. Over 800 listings. THE place to sell equipment. 800-459-2148. (267-09-16)
POULTRY & GAMEBIRDS FREE COLOR CATALOG. 193 varieties, Cornish Cross, standard breeds, fancy chicks, ducks, geese, turkeys, bantams, guineas, pheasants, quail, supplies, video. 417-532-4581. PO Box 529, Lebanon, MO 65536. www.CackleHatchery. com. (876-08-16)
REAL ESTATE DUPLEX plus eleven lots in Wiggins, Co. Great investment opportunity. $382,500 or best offer. Let’s talk. Frank, 303-503-9210 or fsmith070@ gmail.com. (275-04-16) FSBO / DURANGO – GREAT PROFESSIONAL OFFICE on Main Ave. Conveniently located downtown in modern building across from Buckley Park. Two rooms, large windows, two assigned covered parking spaces. $155,000. Roger, 970-799-2871. (265-02-16)
VACATIONS GROUP ON PRINCESS CRUISES to Alaska, 7 nights, July 30. Roundtrip Seattle. Includes Glacier Bay and coastal towns. $100/person deposit to hold cabin. Call Bon Voyage, 719-596-7447. (226-02-16)
VACATION RENTAL BAYFIELD ATTIC INN – A vacation rental in downtown Bayfield, Colorado, near world-class fishing, casino, museum, ruins, & outdoor activities. bayfieldatticinn.com 970759-6957, bayfieldatticinn@gmail. com (263-07-16) COME STAY on SHADOW MOUNTAIN LAKE! Charming, cozy, all season cabin. VRBO.com #699584 (274-04-16) KAUAI VACATION RENTAL, 2bdr, full kitchen. Minutes from beaches. $600/wk. 808-2456500; firstname.lastname@example.org; kauaiweddings.com. (756-05-16) SNOWMOBILERS – The Best Area! Gore Pass house on 8 acres, 4bdrm. Minimum 2 days, $250/night. Henry 719-375-4383, 719-237-9642. (227-02-16)
D.R. FIELD or BRUSH mower. Either walk behind or tow behind. Tom, 970-531-1552 (273-02-16) NAVAJO RUGS, old and recent, native baskets, pottery. Tribal Rugs, Salida. 719-539-5363, b_inaz@ hotmail.com (817-06-16) OLD COLORADO LIVESTOCK brand books prior to 1975. Call Wes 303757-8553. (889-02-16) OLD COWBOY STUFF – hats, boots, spurs, chaps, Indian rugs, baskets, etc. ANYTHING OLD! Mining & railroad memorabilia, ore carts! We buy whole estates. We’ll come to you! Call 970-759-3455 or 970-5651256. (871-05-16) OLD GAS AND OIL items: Gas pumps, advertising signs, globes, etc. Pieces, parts, etc. considered. Also 1932-34 Ford cars and trucks, parts and pieces, too. Any condition. Brandon, 719-250-5721. (519-11-16) OLD POCKET WATCHES – working or non-working and old repair material. Bob 719-859-4209. (870-12-16) WANT TO PURCHASE mineral and other oil/gas interests. Send details to: PO Box 13557, Denver, CO 80201. (402-03-16) WANTED: JEEP CJ OR WRANGLER. Reasonably priced. No rust buckets. 888-735-5337 (099-04-16) WE PAY CASH for minerals and oil/gas interests, producing and nonproducing. 800-733-8122 (099-02-16)
BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES (These opportunities have not been investigated by Colorado Country Life.) HEALTH FOOD STORE & DELI: 2 turnkey businesses in one. Strong income/customer base. Colorado mountains (970-641-5175), leave name & number. (252-04-16)
FIND HIDDEN TREASURE IN THE CLASSIFIEDS Read through the ads and FIND the CCL classified explaining how to WIN a $25 gift card. It’s easy. You could WIN. The classified ads January winner was Maurine Cook from Gunnison. Maurine correctly counted 33 ads. coloradocountrylife.coop
[funny stories] Our grandson was watching me prepare the “then and now” pictures for our 50th wedding anniversary. He was a little confused about who the people in the “then” pictures were, even though I told him it was his grandfather and me. I showed him the “now” picture we were going to put in the newspaper. He sighed in relief and said, “Oh, there you are when you are normal.” Jean Campion, Hesperus
One sunny morning, my dad and 4-year-old brother, Joel, were leaving our neighborhood on the dry, dirt roads. The windows of the truck were down and the morning sun was bright. Alarmed, Joel said, “Dad, close the windows! The sun crumbs are coming in!” Jillian Rambis (age 10), Kiowa
One day, I was making zucchini bread with my 2-yearold nephew. He loves to help me in the kitchen, especially stirring in the ingredients. His momma came home and he excitedly told her, “Momma, Momma! Aunt Julie and I made bikini bread!” Julie Jons, Severance
FEBRUARY WINNER This month’s winner is Hedwig-Carmen Stansell from Pueblo West. She visited the Roman Gate Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany.
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 email@example.com. We’ll draw one photo to win a $25 gift card each month. The next deadline is Monday, February 15. This month’s winner is Hedwig-Carmen Stansell, a San Isabel Electric member from Pueblo West. While visiting Germany, she visited the Roman Gate Porta Nigra in Trier.
Years ago, I had dinner with some friends at home and my little daughter was at the table, too. The adults were recalling that when we grew up our parents tried to get us to finish meals by telling about “the starving children in India.” We noted how things change in time and that at one point the starving children were in other countries as well, like Bangladesh. We figured that parents with youngsters these days probably talk about the children in Ethiopia or Somalia. My daughter piped up: “If those kids have the money to fly all over the place, why are they so hungry?” Cathy Enns, Bayfield
Colorado Country Life’s
THANKS FOR ENTERING
Winners will be published in the April 2016 magazine. coloradocountrylife.coop
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 2016 stories to Colorado Country Life, 5400 Washington St., Denver, CO 80216 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to include your mailing address, so we can send you a check.
[discoveries] A TOAST TO THE CLASSICS Nestle up and enjoy a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate with a retro Out of Print mug. Choose from Alice in Wonderland, Banned Books, Breakfast of Champions or Library Checkout Card. Bonus: Each mug purchased sends a book to a community in need through Books for Africa. Cost is $12 each. For more information, visit outofprintclothing.com.
Facial Phunkshun If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Phunkshun Wear® Ballerclava® masks are a great addition to your attire. These moisturewicking masks help protect your face from frigid flurries, making your winter outdoor adventures more enjoyable. The Denver-based company uses material that has UPF protection and odor-controlling properties to help safeguard you from the sun’s harmful rays and foul odor that may build up through physical exertion. In addition, it fits nicely underneath helmets, so you can hit the slopes safely and comfortably. Cost is $29.99. For more information, visit phunkshunwear.com.
Crowned in Comfort & Cuteness
Snug and sassy, Violet Love’s winter collection headbands showcase fashion-forward colors and prints and keep noggins warm outdoors. The outer layer allows wearers to show off a little personality, and the fleece liner ensures covered areas are not exposed to biting breezes. Violet Love winter collection headbands cost $22. For more information, call 888-789-1037 or visit violetloveheadbands.com.
Pretty , Practical Ponycaps
Denver denizen Michelle Dillavou has long hair and always has. But what she didn’t have was a stocking cap that would reveal her ponytail. Nothing on the market sparked her interest, so she went to work to design her own. “The first ones were pretty atrocious,” she says. But after lots of trial and error, Dillavou figured it out and even earned a patent on her design in 2011. Today, her Ponycaps collection is charming, colorful, warm and functional. Go with a simple solid color or try a cap with stripes, ribbons, embroidered flowers or polka dots. You can even choose pigtail designs. Most caps cost $20 to $25. Prices vary with specialty Ponycaps. Know someone who is undergoing chemotherapy? Email Michelle at ponycaps@ gmail.com and she will make a hat for that person, free of charge. Why? “If I can brighten someone’s day while they are fighting for their lives, sign me up,” she says. For more information, visit ponycaps.com.
Making Music Don’t deprive yourself of music when warming your ears. Trendy, warm and convenient, Music Muffs are a combination of earmuffs and headphones. Built with audio technology that allows users to answer phone calls, control the volume and shuffle though playlists, Music Muffs will help keep your mind off the nippy outdoor temperatures. Available in wired and Bluetooth and in an assortment of styles. Cost is $34.99. For more information, visit shopyatra.com.
The January issue had the wrong website for Kind Design. The correct website is at kinddesign.co. Our apologies. coloradocountrylife.coop
Colorado Country Life February 2016 White River