Valley Voice March 2021

Page 1

March 2021 . Issue 10.3


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Steamboat Springs Hayden Oak Creek Yampa

Photo by Cyndi Marlowe


March 2021

Valley Voice

“Just What the Doctor Ordered.” Private Location with: Trevor, Beau, Greg & Crash Photos by Crash Sterne


VISIT US 1103 Lincoln Ave in DOWNTOWN STEAMBOAT 970-846-3534 For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

Valley Voice

March 2021


Contents A Long and Winding Road

Page 4

2021 Session: Time to Get to Work

Page 5

Who Is Moving to Routt County?

Page 6

Just Give It a Go

Page 7

By Gary Suiter / City Manager

By Dylan Roberts/ State Representative By Scott L. Ford

By Stuart Handloff

Ikon Dilemma Page 7 By Patrick Curran

Anzac Cove Page 8 By Sandy Conlon

Greater Sandhill Crane Week

Page 8

Water, Coal, and Routt County

Page 10

By Nancy Merrill

Publisher/Art Director: Matt Scharf Sales:

VV Assistant:

Eric Kemper

By Ellen & Paul Bonnifield

On Crutches Page 11 By Fran Conlonl

Juniper Page 12 By Karen Vail

Unlearning Page 13 By Wolf Bennett

Valley Voice is published monthly and distributed on the last Wednesday of each month. Please address letters, questions, comments or concerns to: Valley Voice, LLC, P.O. Box 770743 or come by and see us at 1125 Lincoln Ave, Unit 2C, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477. Or contact Matt Scharf: 970-846-3801.

Full Color Page 14

Website Subscription rate is $40 per year (12 issues). All content © 2021 Valley Voice, L.L.C. No portion of the contents of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission from the Valley Voice.

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By Angie Gamble

Our Community: Idiosyncratic View

Page 14

Double Bridges River Site

Page 15

Awake But Dream

Page 15

By Ted Crook

By Patrick Curran By Joan Remy

Trees Page 16 By Aimee Kimmey

Conspiracy Schmearacy

Page 17

Your Monthly Message

Page 18

By Sean Derning

By Chelsea Yepello


Comics Page 19

If you are interested in advertising your business in the Valley Voice, please contact Matt Scharf at or 970-846-3801 (We are the most affordable in town!)

Proposed property tax increases… Jail for DUI, PR bond for felony domestic violence… Rewriting the Routt County Master Plan after the fact… Vehicle accidents on Rabbit Ears Pass that take your life… Taking three days to dig a stuck plow truck out of your own driveway... Sawmills in your neighborhood… Toothaches when you’re poor… Not raising the minimum wage...

Raves... Great neighbors who help out when you’re screwed… Buying a brand new hand-me-down for cheap… The “down-home” feel this winter at Howelsen Hill on Sundays… E-bikes on Howelsen Hill this summer… Secret locations… When your pets truly love you… People who tell it like it is... COVID-19 infections going down in the right direction...

Say What?... “I go early to press glass at Safeway just to get first pick at fresh produce.” “I hate when sheeple talk nonsense to me.” “I think Zillow wants me to leave this town.” “Who ordered four shrimp cocktails and a soda?” “Licking envelopes reminds me of the 80s.” "That music is so old I got some zits listening to it." "If I think you're dumb, does that make me a bigot." "What does whiskey throttle taste like?"

We go to press March 29th for the April 2021 Edition! Send in your submissions by February 19th!


Submission is no guarantee of publication. Subscription rate is a donation of 40 measly dollars per year. However, if you wish to send more because you know we desperately need your money, don’t be shy, send us all you can!


Advertisers rates vary by size, call 970-846-3801 and we’ll come visit you. Please make checks payable to: Valley Voice, LLC P.O. Box 770743 • Steamboat Springs, CO 80487 Thank you for your support!


Most families like to spend time bonding over meals out, picnics in the country, maybe weekend camping trips - we take things to the extreme! — Holly Branson


March 2021

Valley Voice

Steamboat Springs City Council

A Long and Winding Road By Gary Suiter/ City Manager

As we turn the page on what has been an interesting year, to say the least, I am constantly reminded that despite the hardships we have faced during much of 2020, there is much for which to be grateful.

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The public health and economic crises have forced us to be more creative and caused us to work more closely together (ironically while staying apart), all while our city has grown stronger and more united. I believe this unforeseen “pause” has given us a greater appreciation for what the city does, and our mission has never been more vital to the citizens we serve. With city budgets reduced at the onset of the pandemic, a more imaginative approach and emphasis on solutions became a renewed goal for not only the city, but every business across the Yampa Valley. New ways to do business and creative solutions to providing high levels of service to the public and business community have remained top of mind throughout as evidenced: • During the initial onset of this crisis when ski areas shut down in spring, grooming continued uninterrupted for more than a month so residents could get outdoors and remain active. Extensions to sales tax were swiftly granted by City Council and municipal budgets and services came under the microscope to ensure the city remained financially sound. • This past summer and fall, being outside took on an even greater importance. As a result, public consumption downtown and in parks was permitted and variances for restaurant and retail operations were quickly initiated. Haymaker Golf teed off to a record season and the Yampa River Botanic Park blossomed. Revenues over these months was greater than expected (some good news).

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• Winter recreation took on a whole new mindset and reimagined activities and amenities took shape.

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For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

Through collaborative partnerships, two new outdoor ice rinks solidified, a sledding hill grew out of the rodeo parking lot, daily operations returned to Howelsen Hill and new ways to enjoy the town’s ski hill took shape. • Behind the scenes, Steamboat Springs Transit drove on providing vital transportation services, water and wastewater tap fees were waived, public safety always answered the call, and staff worked with numerous entities to secure and share CARES Funding with local businesses and community programs. As we enter the final month of the first quarter of 2021, I believe this year feels much like last year, but with a greater degree of hope as evidenced by the roll out of the vaccine. We’ll remain focused on navigating the coming months and uncertainties around the pandemic together and know we’ll come out the other side. With that in mind, we must not lose sight of council’s longrange goals including fiscal sustainability, transportation and mobility, environmental stewardship, housing and fire resources. Even with this uncertainty, I am certain that your city staff will continue performing at a high level, with dedication, commitment, loyalty, and with a sense of teamwork for the community. I can't express enough how proud I am of this community as we navigate our way through these challenging and difficult times. I ask that you take stock of the things that you value most - health, family, friends, coworkers and community. I also ask for your continued patience and support through the remainder of the winter season, and into spring and summer, as we continue to chart a positive path forward together.

Valley Voice

March 2021

State Representative/ Eagle and Routt Counties

2021 Session: Time To Get to Work By Dylan Roberts

This has been a multi-year effort that was sidelined by our COVID-shortened session in 2020, but we remain steadfast in our fight for you and your families because we know that every person should have access to affordable health insurance if they want it, no matter where they live. We have made important changes to this legislation so that our health care industry can recover from COVID while still achieving the ultimate goal: lower prices and more choices.

This month, after a pandemic-related delay, I returned to the Colorado House of Representatives to work on behalf of Eagle and Routt Counties as we commenced the 2021 legislative session. Our mountain communities continue to face adversity, and I am determined to address these challenges and work to build a stronger Colorado. Now that we are back to work in Denver, I wanted to take a moment to share my legislative priorities with you and offer a preview for the session. Heading in to my second term as your representative, I am redoubling my focus on our community’s most important issues. Since we adjourned last spring, I have met with many of you to turn your ideas into legislation, and I look forward to introducing several pieces of legislation that will address the most pressing challenges our community faces. First and foremost will be helping our economy recover and responding to COVID-19. Last month, I was appointed as the Chair of the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee for the coming term. We will craft legislation to help our state’s small businesses and workers. We are working on a comprehensive and bipartisan stimulus package for small businesses, including restaurants, retail, hospitality, non-profits, and arts organizations. Also, we will prioritize funding to increase vaccine supply and distribution as quickly as possible. Next, I will address an issue that is especially relevant to rural communities: making Colorado’s health care system more affordable and accessible. Mountain regions have the highest rate and concentration of uninsured people of anywhere in the state. In our mountain communities, including both Eagle and Routt Counties, 14.3 percent of the population was uninsured in 2020 and that number is likely to rise due to the pandemic. Further, Eagle and Routt County residents only have one choice of provider on the individual insurance market—no competition and rising prices. That is unacceptable. I am working with Sen. Kerry Donovan to implement a Colorado Health Insurance Option—a new, more affordable choice on the market—in our state.


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I will also be introducing bills that came directly from our community’s businesses and residents. For example, an extension of my Alcohol Beverage Retail Takeout and Delivery bill, which became a law last year. The bill provided a lifeline for restaurants struggling during the pandemic by allowing them to sell alcohol along with take-out food. This bipartisan bill will allow our local restaurants to continue these sales in perpetuity. I also look forward to helping pass more stimulus legislation for small businesses including restaurants, retail, hospitality, non-profits, and arts organizations. Another set of bipartisan bills I am working on will address inadequacies in our legal system for some of our society’s most vulnerable. First, I will re-introduce a bipartisan bill to update our state’s laws regarding child pornography. The last time that the statutes were updated, legislators were addressing possession of Polaroid pictures and VHS tapes. Obviously, that is not the world we live in anymore. Current law is simply not enough to protect our children, and this year we will do something about it. Second, I crafted legislation and secured bipartisan sponsorship to protect undocumented victims from crime. The bill would make it illegal to use someone’s immigration status as a means to prevent them from reporting a crime. Immigration status should never prevent our community members from reporting a crime.

March is Senior Pet Awareness Month Their affection is timeless, devotion is ageless and their love is forever…

Also in the works (and I look forward to sharing details soon): lowering prescription drug costs, increasing transportation funding, combating climate change, incentivizing outdoor recreation and water conservation, increasing affordable child care access, small business tax relief, attaining affordable housing, supporting educators and schools, and much more. You can always contact me personally anytime. My cell: (970) 846-3054 and e-mail: Dylan.Roberts.House@state. This is going to be a busy year in the Colorado state legislature—as it should be. We must match the intensity of the moment with the intensity of our actions. Eagle and Routt Counties, it is an honor to serve you and I am ready to get to work.

Representative Dylan Roberts serves Eagle County and Routt County in the Colorado House of Representatives.

Make sure your Senior Pet is at their best! We strive to keep your Senior pet happy and comfortable. We can help your pet with preventative care plans, pain management, assessing bloodwork and weight management. Offering discounted Senior services during the Month of March. Please call for additional information.

Happy Pets! Happy People! 102 Anglers Drive


May hard work, and justice, always cement our bonds of unity that we may get our country back to production. — Mwai Kibaki


March 2021

2012 to 2013 2013 to 2014 2014 to 2015 2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018

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1,724 1,508 1,269 1,734 2,261 1,693

$87,310 $57,443 $76,326 $74,918 $124,932 $84,440

1,477 1,565 1,102 1,574 1,997 1,529

Valley Voice

$57,538 $50,489 $68,076 $56,614 $63,926 $65,795

Who Is Moving to Routt County and Where Are They Moving From?Routt County By Scott L. Ford Routt County

Moved Into the County Year

Mov Average Household Adjusted Gross Income

Individuals 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019Indiv

2011 to 2012

Moved to Routt County from Another Colorado County 2012 to74% 2013 2013 to26% 2014 Moved to Routt County from Another State 2014 to 2015 Moved from abroad 0%



35% 63% 60% 1,724 55% $87,310 1,508 45% $57,443 60% 37% 40% 1,269 $76,326 5% 0% 0% 0%


57%1,477 33%1,565 11%1,102

2015 to 2016 1,734 $74,918 1,574 2016 to 2017 2,261 $124,932 1,997 During this period 11,731 people moved into Routt County 2017 to 2018 1,693 $84,440 1,529 and 10,840 moved out. This results in a positive net

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In the February issue of the Valley Voice, I did a “deep dive” into the sources of population growth in Routt County. To migration of 891 individuals. What is perhaps more revealbriefly recap; according to the Colorado Department of Moved to County fromina1990 Different ingRegion is that the median household income of those moving Demographics, theRoutt population in Routt County toRoutt Routt2019 County during this period was $78,737 and those was 14,216. By 2019 the population grown to 2017 25,652. 2018 2014 2015 had2016 County moving out had $57,538. The households moving into Over the past 30 years the County’s population has grown Northeast 23% 26% 25% 22% 17% 16% the county over the past 7 years were more affluent.2014 On 20 by 80% or an average of almost 3% per year. a per household basis those moving in vs. those moving Midwest 20% 22% 19% 16% 14% 15% Moved to Routt County from Another Colorado County 74% 3 out had about $21,200 more in household income. There There are only two sources population25% growth. The first 41% South 30% of 28% 39% 42% Moved to Routt County from Another State 26% 6 is no surprise with this data. It is clear evidence that the is that more people are born than die. The second is that Moved from abroad 0% 5 West 24%The latter 31%is known 23% 28% 27%moving into the county and the less affluent affluent are more people move in27% vs. move out. as US Census/ACS Table: B07204 are moving out. netSource: migration. The population of Routt County grew by almost 11,500 over this 30-year period. Net migration accounted for 65% of this growth.

Moved to Routt County from a Different Region

At the end of my column last month, I asked the question, “Where are all these people coming from?” I will try to answer this question using both Census and IRS data.


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It is no surprise that the IRS keeps exceptionally good track of us. For most households in Routt County, we file a tax return annually. Using federal tax return data if someone lived somewhere other than Routt County in the year prior to moving to a Routt County zip code – that information is captured in the IRS’s Migration Data File which is a part of the IRS’s overall Master File. The IRS passes to the US Census Bureau the contents of their Master File and the Census Bureau uses modeling software to achieve a “data picture” of what is going on regarding the population. As I am sure you can appreciate, the IRS Master File, as well as the IRS Migration Data, are gigantic files. This makes sense because there are about 330 million people in the United States.

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23% 20% 30% 27%

26% 22% 28% 24%

25% 19% 25% 31%

22% 16% 39% 23%

17% 14% 41% 28%

16% 15% 42% 27%

Source: US Census/ACS Table: B07204

For most of the folks that are moving to Routt County, about half are coming from somewhere else in Colorado. About 1/3 of the folks moving to Routt County are coming from the Southern Region of the United States. This region includes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. It should be no surprise that we are hearing more southern accents.

Routt County

Moved Into the County


Northeast Midwest South West



2011 to 2012 2012 to 2013 2013 to 2014 2014 to 2015 2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018

1,542 1,724 1,508 1,269 1,734 2,261 1,693

Moved Out of the County Average Household Adjusted Gross Income $78,737 $87,310 $57,443 $76,326 $74,918 $124,932 $84,440


Average Household Adjusted Gross Income

1,596 1,477 1,565 1,102 1,574 1,997 1,529

$43,753 $57,538 $50,489 $68,076 $56,614 $63,926 $65,795

To narrow the scope of this analysis I will focus on only the period 2011 to 2018.

Routt County

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

The IRS and the Census data does not have data that would indicate the reasons behind what motivated someone to move to Routt County. The majority of folks from out of state, however, appear to be escaping heat and humidity. Y'all take care now!

Valley Voice

March 2021

Piknik Theatre

Just Give It a Go By Stuart Handloff

Tom Vanderbilt, a popular writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal among other publications, has written a book entitled “Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning.” Mr. Vanderbilt’s premise is that taking on any new endeavor, mental or physical, is good for your soul even if you never achieve mastery. Being okay is good enough. He explains that the now-pejorative term “dilettante,” used to describe a hopelessly superficial dabbler, is derived from the Italian word “dilettare” which means “to delight.” For those of us who have spent our lives really mastering nothing, it’s so fulfilling to know that creating delight for ourselves and maybe a few others is really a good enough epitaph. One new skill Mr. Vanderbilt attempts as part of his research is learning to sing from a Broadway musical theatre coach. When I first started teaching drama at Steamboat Springs High School, I had no experience directing musicals - a staple requirement for high schools - and the first thing I did was contact the University of Northern Colorado. UNC has a reputation for having the best musical theatre program in the state and I was fortunate to learn from musical theatre coaches of comparable quality. UNC had been churning out one Broadway performer after another and I wanted to know how to improve the skills of my high school students using similar teaching methods.



pression of time and space. There is a traditional rhythm to musical theatre too. Actors speak until the emotion becomes too great and then they sing (and when singing isn’t enough, they dance). I would encourage the actors who were struggling finding the story in a song to first speak the lyrics as regular dialogue to find the action and through line. Then return to singing the words with the same intention. Musical theatre, at its core, is good acting on pitch. Every once in a while, a student would emerge who was so confident and free with their singing that the lyrics would explode from their being. A little 13-year-old freshman would have a voice that would fill the auditorium, no amplification required. But even in high school aged performers, most had “lost” their natural voices. The natural voice is what infants use when filling the supermarket or airplane from one end to the other with shrieks or cries that can go on endlessly without producing any pain or discomfort (except for everyone else). These tiny bodies have incredible range and power that - over the course of their lives - is habituated out. “Don’t use that tone of voice with me!” “Children should be seen and not heard!” “Stop that howling or I’ll give you something to cry about!” “Remember, we must use our inside voices!” Children, as they grow, are conditioned to lose the uninhibited breathing and vocalizing with which they are born and develop more “mature” means of communication. And nearly all of us mature adults think we have “bad” voices and certainly not ones that should be singing in public. As Vanderbilt explains, “we find ourselves in a vicious cycle: the reason we’re not so good at singing is that we don’t do it so much. We don’t do it so much because we think we’re not so good.”

Quoting one of his sources, Vanderbilt notes “Eighty percent of singing is how you sell the song rather than the brilliance of the instrument.” For musical theatre performing, I say it’s closer to ninety percent. I don’t claim to be much more than a dilettante when it comes to directing a musical but I did discover and stumble into a few important elements that allow anyone from a young student to aging amateur the ability to “act/sing”: creating a story and selling the song through good acting on pitch. Much of what I learned came through working with a far more skilled musical team, Brian and Christel Houston. I think the three of us combined to create some really “delightful” musical theatre productions with high school age artists.

Kristin Linklater (Freeing the Natural Voice) and Patsy Rodenburg (The Right to Speak) - both distinguished vocal coaches who have worked directly or indirectly with any actor of note you can name - emphasize that “everyone possesses a voice capable of expressing, through a two-tofour octave range, whatever gamut of emotion, complexity of mood, and subtlety of thought he or she experiences.” “I believe”, says Rodenburg, “that everybody retains some memory of a free, natural voice.” It’s simply a matter of removing the blocks; which is far easier said than done. However, as Vanderbilt discovered during his exploration of learning to sing, that practice and development of good vocal habits can reveal our natural voice. The first step is disabusing ourselves of the notion that we must be vocally perfect, “the myth of the beautiful voice.” There is no beautiful voice any more than there is a bad voice; there is only our voice. Rodenburg recalls the story of a meeting she had with a gospel singer eighty years of age. She asked how often the singer practiced and the response was three or four times a day, seven days a week, for over seventy years, with no strain or vocal problems. Through practicing good vocal habits and avoiding the trap of reaching for the perfect note every time, she was able to sing freely and openly without thinking. “God doesn’t mind a bum note,” the singer explained so why should we? Acting on pitch doesn't mean perfect pitch.

The focus of act/sing is to first understand and tell the story of the song in a way that communicates the emotion. With musical theatre, the story can unfold in a single song; for example, in West Side Story (Sondheim and Bernstein), Tony and Maria fall in love during the course of one song, “Tonight.” The emotional swing this huge they uncover would never be believable in a straight (non-musical) show but this is the disbelief an audience suspends when watching a musical. We expect emotional spikes and com-

“Let’s enjoy ourselves and let the sound come out and stop being so intellectual about it,” says Vanderbilt’s vocal coach. Maybe, like him, when you work to free and open your natural voice, you’ll uncover some emotional things that you’ve been holding back as well. In any case, give it a go; the worst that happens is that you’re ignored on karaoke night. The whole point of his book is that learning something new, at any age, stimulates the mind and body, and “if you don’t learn to fail, you’ll fail to learn.”

Ikon Dilemma By Patrick Curran Beep! Beep! Beep! Jeez? My head dives under the pillow I crave my sleep Okay, okay, hello day! And yes, That was my First Tracks alarm I creep to the curtain Push it aside By golly, it’s snowing outside! Deep powder day! Hip! Hip! Hooray! Early morning skiing First run of the day I grab my cell phone Click the weather app Snowfall all day Hey! Hey! Let’s play Says, even Billy Kidd has Flipped his lid! Hum? Click on snow-cam: Gondola Square: crowded Rendezvous Cam: Whiteout! Christie Cam: Ah! Ha! It’s clear! Click on CDOT Avalanche Warning! I-70 from Denver Is storming Closed for the day Hey! Hey! Hey! Back to snow-cam Thunderhead lift closed? Really! What to do? Chill or Thrill? Brew a cup of coffee Throw a log on the fire Read a good novel, nothing too dire, Hum? Maybe Off to Rabbit Ears to AT Hold-on, suns out, let’s see? Four Peaks snow cam:Hey! It’s clear and This novel has a boring plot Damn rights! I’m headed for Meadows Parking lot!

Everything you're doing is a chance at an opportunity, so why not give it your fullest and try? — Morgan Saylor


March 2021

Valley Voice


Greater Sandhill Crane Week By Nancy Merrill 879.5929 905 Weiss Drive - across HWY 40 from the Holiday Inn

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In early March, Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Inc. (CCCC) welcomes back the Greater Sandhill Cranes to Northwest Colorado. To honor our returning cranes, March 1-8 has been proclaimed Greater Sandhill Crane Week in the Yampa Valley! Both Routt and Moffat Counties have issued the following proclamation: STATE OF COLORADO COUNTIES OF ROUTT AND MOFFAT GREATER SANDHILL CRANE WEEK 2021 PROCLAMATION


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Anzac Cove By Sandy Conlon

WHEREAS, Greater Sandhill Cranes are classified as a Tier 1 Species of Concern in the State of Colorado WHEREAS, Greater Sandhill Cranes are wetland dependent and are an ambassador species for wetland

In Anzac Cove, Ari Burnu, no poppies grow For two thousand men and more are buried here in barren fields far from home. Two thousand men and more the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps led by faulty maps to Canakkale, Gallipoli’s deadly shore. Sent to open the Dardanelles to Istanbul then depose the German Chancellor, yet two thousand men and more are buried here. In Anzac Cove, Ari Burnu, the graves are lighter now and markers stand row on row where two thousand men and more fought the war to end all war, their names finely etched in stone, while loved ones mourned far from this Turkish shore. Two thousand men and more gave up their lives far from home honored now in this simple poem. For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

Aerial art stomped in the snow at Stagecoach Reservoir.


habitat and all the wetland creatures found in Routt and Moffat Counties WHEREAS, Greater Sandhill Cranes from throughout the Rocky Mountain Range stage in Routt and Moffat Counties during the late summer and early fall and are the star of the annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival that brings in hundreds of visitors to our area WHEREAS, Greater Sandhill Cranes return in early March to Routt and Moffat Counties from their wintering grounds in Arizona and New Mexico NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of County Commissioners of Routt and Moffat Counties, Colorado that March 1-8, 2021, be designated as Greater Sandhill Crane Week, and urge citizens to welcome the cranes back and to protect crane habitat throughout the Yampa Valley. ADOPTED this 16th day of February, 2021. BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, ROUTT COUNTY, COLORADO AND MOFFAT COUNTY, COLORADO

Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Inc. (CCCC) is sponsoring some exciting crane-related events that are taking place during Greater Sandhill Crane Week and beyond.





“These Boots are Made for Walkin’” Photo by Holly Harker

Artwork by Jill Bergman “Greater Future” By Lily Patterson

In honor of the 10th year of the Yampa Valley Crane Festival, CCCC will be awarding $10,000 in scholarship money to the winners of the Crane-inspired Creative Arts Scholarship Contest. High school seniors in Routt and Moffat counties are invited to submit an original piece of writing, visual art, or performing art inspired by the Rocky Mountain Population of Greater Sandhill Cranes to the contest. The work must be original and accurately reflect the characteristics, behavior and habitat of the Rocky Mountain Greater Sandhill Cranes. The 2021 contest offers THREE categories of art: Category 1: Written Arts. A nonfictional essay or fictional story of 750-1500 words or a group of three poems. Category 2: Visual Arts. A painting, sketch, photograph or digital art. Category 3: Performing Arts. A song, dance, musical composition or skit lasting 2- 5 minutes The First-Place winner in each category will receive a $2,000 scholarship. The Second-Place winner in each category will receive a $1,000 scholarship. An Honorable Mention winner from any of the categories will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Entries must be submitted by March 25, 2021 to Winners will be announced in May. All entries will be displayed at the The Depot in Steamboat Springs during the month of April. Complete contest rules can be found at

The annual Crane Coloring Contest begins March 1. All kids ages 3-18 are eligible to participate. The coloring page will be available at the Bud Werner Children’s library, Lyon’s Drug, or the Oak Creek Library. It can also be downloaded from the CCCC website: Kids can color, paint and decorate the drawing and return it to the Bud Werner Children’s Library, Lyon’s Drug, Crane Conservation Office at 141 9th Street, or the Oak Creek Library by August 15, 2021. Completed pictures can also be mailed to: Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition 40625 County Road 69A Hayden, CO 81639 Winners will be notified in late August and awards will be given out at a special ceremony at the Bud Werner Memorial Library during the Yampa Valley Crane Festival. Lyon’s Drug is generously providing prizes for the coloring contest. All contest entries will be displayed at the library throughout the four days of the festival, September 2 – 5, 2021.

March is a great time to photograph the cranes as they are returning from their winter home and preparing to nest. Photos of Greater Sandhill Cranes, taken between September 1, 2020 and August 15, 2021, can be submitted to the contest in four categories this year: 1. Yampa Valley Greater Sandhill Cranes – Amateur Division 2. Yampa Valley Greater Sandhill Cranes – Professional Division 3. Rocky Mountain Greater Sandhhill Cranes – Locations outside the Yampa Valley (open to both Amateur and Professional) 4. Altered Reality images of Rocky Mountain Greater Sandhill Cranes – Locations both within and outside the Yampa Valley – open to Amateur and Professional Prizes will be awarded in all four categories at the Yampa Valley Crane Festival in September. Complete contest information and rules can be found at: Greater Sandhill Cranes remain a Tier 1 Species of Concern in Colorado. By participating in these crane-related activities, you are helping to ensure that these beautiful, ancient birds continue to inhabit our landscape for generations to come.

FIRST CRANE SIGHTING OF THE SEASON CONTEST Be the first to spot a Greater Sandhill Crane in your area of the Yampa Valley! Document your sighting with a photo or video and send it to

“Landing Gear Down” Photo by Anita Merrigan

Be sure to include your name and mailing address, plus the date, time and location of the sighting. A prize will be awarded to each individual with the photo or video of the earliest sighting in West Routt, North Routt, South Routt, Steamboat Springs, Craig and West Moffat. A grand prize will be given for the overall earliest sighting in the entire Yampa Valley. In early April, the winners will be announced and winning photos and videos will be posted at

Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird? — David Attenborough


March 2021

Valley Voice

Bonnifield Files

Water, Coal, and Routt County By Ellen and Paul Bonnifield

Kremmling became the compensatory storage for Windy Gap that pumps water from the Fraser River through the Big Thompson tunnel. In the thirty years, 1950 - 1980, dams controlled the upper Colorado, Gunnison, and San Juan rivers. In the 1950s, the Four Counties Water Association proposed building a reservoir on the Yampa River below Service Creek and pumping water to western North Park while taking water from eastern North Park. The project was convoluted and never completed, but it remains on the books. Echo Park near the Colorado-Utah line in Dinosaur Monument became the epicenter of a monumental water battle. Professor Earl B. Douglas of the Carnegie Museum located a large dinosaur deposit near Vernal, Utah, in 1909 and six years later it was designated Dinosaur National Monument. Hoping to attract tourists, local interests promoted enlargement of the Monument and in 1938 it was enlarged to include the canyons of the Green and Yampa rivers including Echo Park. For eons the Pueblo Indians irrigated crops along the upper Rio Grande River and the Spanish quickly adopted the practice. The first water decree in the San Louis Valley (1852) was by the Spanish. Accompanying the Colorado gold rush in 1859, David Wall dug an irrigation ditch on Clear Creek between Denver and Golden. Within two years the Rocky Mountain News told its readers the myth of the Great American desert was defeated by irrigation. By 1864 Colorado demanded the federal government build dams and canals to move water from the western slope to Denver. The Hayden Survey team led by A. R. Marvine reported, “in case the [Yampa Valley] ever becomes settled enough to require irrigation, . . . the supply is ample for any possible demand,” but dams and canals were necessary. At the time Marvine was reporting, the question of ample water was being tested in another part of the state. General Cameron and his followers moved upstream above N. C. Meeker’s utopian settlement at Greeley. During the drought of 1974, Cameron cut off all the Cache la Poudre water from Greeley. The good folks at Greeley may have committed themselves to brotherly love, but they would kill for irrigation water. Greeley and Fort Collins soon engaged in a shooting war. To settle the conflict, Colorado pioneered senior rights laws – “the first in time, first in right” – the oldest filed water right has first right to the judicated water. Early settlers in the Yampa Valley, as elsewhere in the West, began by digging ditches. These were usually individual or small community co-op projects that met the local needs. Bigger and more complex projects requiring deep pockets and skilled engineering were beyond the reach of ordinary homesteaders. In 1901, Nevada’s Representative Francis Newlands introduced the National Reclamation Act (Newlands Act). Accompanying the Act, the Bureau of Reclamation changed the West. The Salt Creek Project opened the way for Phoenix to become a major city and dramatically changed Moffat and Rio Blanco counties. Major projects were in every western state. In Colorado,

the Bureau successfully tunneled the mountain to bring Gunnison River water to 61,000 acres in Montrose and Delta counties. Large canals and diversion projects boomed Grand Junction and the Grand Valley. The 1889 Colorado legislature financed studies to bring water from Grand Lake through a series of canals to a tunnel under the divide to South Boulder. Although modified, the Pioneer Bore of the Moffat Tunnel (1927) diverted water from the western slope to Denver. In 1904, the newly minted Bureau of Reclamation began surveying major water projects at Grand Lake, Williams Fork, Blue, and Grand (Colorado) rivers. A proposed dam at the mouth of Gore Canyon near Kremmling nearly prevented the Moffat Road from reaching the Yampa Coalfield. To block other filings along the proposed railroad route, Moffat and Lawrence Phipps, through “dummy” companies, filed on several sites on the Yampa River. The filings included Stagecoach Reservoir, Juniper Springs, and Cross Mountain. The water battles became more heated as the Bureau of Reclamation built more dams and canals resulting in, among other things, the Colorado River Compact (1922) with all its modern-day complex problems. From the early days of Greeley and Fort Collins, northern Colorado was involved in numerous water fights and trans-mountain diversion proposals. As a Depression Relief Project and after the 1940 National Defense Act, the Big Thompson Project was approved to transfer water from Grand Lake through the mountains to the eastern slope. It included enlarging Grand Lake and construction of Shadow Mountain and Granby dams. After sixteen years of effort, in 1956 water was diverted, completing the Big Thompson. As a compensatory storage reservoir for the western slope, primally the Grand Valley, Green Mountain Reservoir was built as a water storage and electrical generation facility. In the mid-1950s a major power line connected the Yampa Valley with Green Mountain Reservoir. Later Wolford Mountain Reservoir on the Muddy near

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

In 1940, the Bureau of Reclamation as part of a larger program began surveying Echo Park. Other projects included Flaming Gorge, Gray Canyon, Glen Canyon and on the Yampa, Juniper Springs and Cross Mountain. The Echo Park site was within the Monument and by law set aside from development. An article in a leading magazine in 1950 caught the attention of the nation and the Sierra Club marshaled its forces. When the public learned the plan also included enlarging Yellowstone Lake and altering Yellowstone Falls, the outcry doomed Echo Park. Recognizing defeat in 1955, Colorado Congressman Aspinall and the Sierra Club's David Bowers reached an agreement allowing for construction at Glen Canyon. The Salt Creek and Central Arizona Project required pumping and channeling enormous amounts of Colorado River water. The Bureau proposed hydroelectric dams at Marble and Bridge Canyons and the resulting reservoirs would flood part of Grand Canyon. Environmental organizations stoutly opposed the proposal. After a long and heated battle, the contenders agreed to drop the dams and build coal fired power plants. In addition to the Navajo Power Plant, plants were built at Bonanza, Utah and Craig, Colorado. The subsequent power plant and coal mine completely altered Moffat County. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, another disaster struck Routt County. On January 27, 1942, a coal cutting machine at the Wadge Mine near Mt. Harris was tramming toward the coal face. The tram broke its electric cable sending sparks into the gas. The mine exploded. Joe Gall, Bill Fickle, Elmer Everson, and Mike Atansoff, working near the portal, heard a dull thud deep in the mine. The miners raced to get out. Thirtyeight men went to work on the night shift. Thirty-four never returned home. It was the worst mine disaster in the history of the Yampa Coalfield.

Valley Voice

March 2021



Rescue crews from across the state hurried to the disaster. Routt County had something new. Women’s safety groups immediately responded to care for the families of the stricken, attempting to control the hysteria of family suffering. Despite the tragic explosion and the war, the 1940s were good years in the coalfield and the population of the county was growing and prosperous. The Victor-American Mine west of Oak Creek had an estimated fifty homes, a store, and a school. Haybro Mine had a store and school. Keystone Mine was a thriving company town. Mt. Harris, although a company town, was the second largest town in the county. Milner prospered after the Yampa Valley Electric Association in 1941 took control of the generation plant. It later became part of Public Service. In 1948 the Osage Mine began production. Livestock prices were good, the timber business thrived. The future was filled with promise. Then came the crash. Natural gas replaced coal heating for homes and businesses. Railroads abandoned steam locomotives for diesel power, spruce beetles killed trees on the Flat Tops, and livestock prices dropped. Between 1950 – 1958 all the underground mines closed, leaving only two wagon mines. Company towns disappeared. The railroad shops and roundhouse at Phippsburg became a skeleton. Routt County’s population in 1940 was 10,525. By 1960 it dropped nearly half to 5,900. Although seriously hurt, coal mining never totally stopped. The Carl Steele family pulled pillars from the Keystone

Mine until the rising water level in the mine forced its closure. They moved to the Apex Mine on upper Trout Creek. Carl and his brother originally opened the mine in the early 1930's and worked it for several years. Then the mine was leased to different operators until finishing at Keystone. The family continued to work the mine until 1976 when they sold it to Sunland Mining. Sunland never fully developed the property. The new technology of strip mining and selling coal to power plants began in a small way at Oak Hills Edna in 1945. Osage Mine near Milner followed in 1949. Pittsburg Midway purchased both mines in 1961. A year later Bob Adams opened the Energy Mine (Twenty Mile Mine). The demand for electrical power and the availability of water and coal led Public Service to build the Hayden Station (completed in 1962). High sulfur coal and the Arab oil embargo resulted in a gigantic shift in western coal mining. Western coal is low sulfur thus reducing SO2 in the air. Additionally, the United States contains enormous coal reserves. In the 1970s the federal government spent billions of dollars subsidizing coal development and transportation. Routt and Moffat counties received vast amounts of assistance. Craig became a coal mining and electrical generation center. Then, resulting from President Bush’s effort to make the U.S. petroleum independent, came the boom in natural gas production and once again northwestern Colorado coal mining and generation are threatened.

On ByCrutches Fran Conlon On crutches, she opened the door for me, I was to get an ordered book, My slow pace might have provoked a look, She swung in place as a dancer free. I smiled and enter the opened door, To stop the offer would not be right, She was there by agile might, To reverse the roles I did not implore. She followed quickly with kindly smile, No pause for torso that was infirm, 'Twas equal to me I was quick to learn, An epiphany of soul in true Zen style. It was a happening to my surprise, The marvel of her adroit style, Performed perfunctory with no dramatic file, Gave my mind pause to surmise. That expectations are often set, Enlightenment has the last say yet. (So humility meets at bookstore’s door, And irony wins by coming fore.)

“Everybody’s got to believe in something, I believe I’ll have another beer” - WC Fields

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Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. — W. H. Auden


March 2021

Valley Voice

'Boat Almanac

Juniper By Karen Vail

Photo by Brian Kelly

Every Friday in the winter months for fifteen plus years now I have led a Yampatika snowshoe tour up the Uranium Mine Road. Amazingly, I have never, ever tired of its beauty and, every year, I marvel at the trees flourishing on this hot, dry slope. One tree in particular, Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) has vexed me as to their change in foliage from summer to winter. Time to do some sleuthing!

Do junipers remind you of pine trees, fir or spruce? Probably not. Most people would not make the connection that these are all Gymnosperms. The term comes from two Greek words; gymnos meaning naked and sperma meaning seed. Aahh, divert thine eyes!! This simply describes how the seeds are exposed on the upper cone scales. Take a look at newly opened pine cones and you can see the winged seeds resting inside each opening on the scale. Are you scratching your head while looking at juniper “cones,” trying to figure out the “cone” part? They look like a berry. Cut the “berry” in half and the woody cone structure is revealed with usually 2 seeds inside. Rocky Mountain juniper tend to be dioecious, a fancy word meaning the sexes are on separate plants. This is why you might come upon a stand of juniper where only a couple are decorated with pretty blue “berries.” The staminate (male) cones are insignificant (sorry guys) brown papery cones at the branch tips and produce pollen in spring. The pollen is wind born to green tiny ovulate (female) cones where pollination occurs, and the berry-like seed begins to form. These blueish looking berries with a white coating are called seed cones and remain on the tree through the winter then ripen in the second spring, unless the birds don’t eat them first. Listen in winter for a single clear whistle along the Uranium Mine Road. This is the Townsends Solitaire’s (Myadestes townsendi) beautiful call. These drab gray robin-sized birds migrate down to the hot, dry slopes during their non-breeding season to partake in juicy juniper seed cones and other berries. Other birds eating juniper seed cones include robins, jays and waxwings. A study done in the Northwest reported Bohemian waxwings as passing 900 seeds in just 5 hours. That’s a lotta seeds!

We have two juniper species in our higher mountain regions: Rocky Mountain juniper and common juniper (Juniperus communis). As you drive to Dinosaur National Park and farther into Utah you will encounter the Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) and, in more southerly regions, one-seeded juniper (Juniperus monosperma). Rocky Mountain juniper occurs at the highest elevations of other juniper species, and also can tolerate moister areas. This beautiful tree fits well in our “wet” climate, relatively speaking of course, and the high elevation creates some beautifully bonsaied forms. I found a couple of Rocky Mountain juniper on the hot slopes of Three Island Lake trail; those might be the highest ones in the state.

Juniper Female

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

They also found that those seed cones passing through the digestive tract of an animal where the acid scours the seed coat germinate much better than those just falling off the tree. Rocky Mountain juniper will approach seed-bearing age around 10 to 20 years, and they have abundant crops every 2 to 5 years. If a seed lands in a protective nook of a rock or shrub, it is much more likely to germinate and grow past its first year. And these are slooow growing trees. At 8 years old a tree will be a foot tall, at age 40 they might be 13 to 14 feet. And then they slow growth even more and, at age 80, the average height is 18 feet. At 300 years a tree might be 30 feet, the typically maximum height of the trees. (Scher, Janette S. 2002. Juniperus scopulorum at The tallest recorded tree is 40 feet located in Cache National Forest in Utah. It must be beauty with a diameter of 284 inches and crown spread of 29 feet! Check out for pictures of this amazing tree. The oldest recorded Rocky Mountain juniper is from a log found at El Malpais National Monument from a tree living over 1,888 years. The researchers are sure more junipers, even older than this, are living in the area. ( The “leaves” are more scale-like than leafy, overlap like shingles and have a blue-green tint to them. If you have a magnifying lens a look at the underside shows recessed resin glands. Aaaah, that lovely juniper aroma! And here is where my mystery is solved. Only a couple of junipers pull their green chloroplasts in the fall, leaving a gray-reddish color to the plant. I always think they are dead in the winter! Why Rocky Mountain juniper do this, and other junipers do not, remains unknown. Mother Nature can’t give away all her secrets!! The bark is light gray, fairly tight and will begin shredding in strips with age. Very old trees are elegant sculptures with beautifully braided bark and twisted limbs. “Scopulorum” is Latin for “of rocky places” and is an apt description for this hardy trees preferred habitat. Although they can also be found in moister sites than other junipers, these pampered trees tend to be shorter-lived than the stressed, and slower growing, trees of harsher habitats. The dense foliage provides valuable protection in winter for many bird species and is forage for several ungulates and small mammals. I often see a variety of birds flitting through the branches in winter. Get out and enjoy these majestic beauties of our hottest slopes. I’ll see you on the trails!

Valley Voice

March 2021


Mensan Musings


No appointment necessary! STEAMBOAT

By Wolf Bennett

Long ago, I was a self taught skier. I could “see” how to do it, and of course slow motion films of Olympians and YOUTUBE videos taught me everything, right? It looks so easy and I had friends and family who would teach me, right? Unfortunately, very wrong.

difficult and time consuming, but we need to find teachers that can help us unlearn and then find those who can show us better ways. We might find a teacher who is too advanced and sometimes we have to back off enough to be ready for that teacher.

Truthfully I had no clue. I bumbled my way through many situations, risking myself and others to injury and pain. I attempted to ski ever harder runs thinking that if I could get down something without falling that meant quality skiing (surviving is not skiing). I struggled with moguls, Nastar race courses, powder, steeps... but hey, I got better, right? Unfortunately, wrong, very wrong. I thought I was getting better. After all, I had more days of skiing than ever before without crashing much. I was the adage of: “Be careful of the person who claims 20 years experience, for they might only have one year of experience 20 times." I know now that I traded much fun, adventure and learning for frustration, limitation, danger and hurt. That’s a lousy trade and yet I see people doing it every time I ski.

The process of unlearning was essential and applies to everything in our lives. Those poor habits we practice haunt us. Thinking and believing we have the answers is actually limiting. Where you encounter resistance is where you need to work hardest. As you get more correctly capable, everything will come more easily.

I kept at it for ten years until I moved to the mountains and decided to become a ski instructor and share my vast knowledge of skiing. Yep, wrong again. I skied with professionals and PSIA examiners and discovered what a terrible coach I had had for those ten previous years. I had taught myself all manner of bad habits. I had to change if I wanted to get better. Learning to be a learner became a critical skill. I began the long journey of unlearning. To unlearn, like ending all habits, I first had to admit I had a problem. I needed to humble myself and know that I didn’t know. I had to ask for help. Metaphorically the bumps and the steeps were not the problem. “I” was the problem. Bad habits made things much harder than they really were. Change took more than trying new skills, videos or pretending. Practicing the correct skills with constant, conscious effort while letting go of the old ones was difficult. I learned to watch myself vigilantly (a new habit to develop) to see if the old habits were creeping back when I was tired or stressed. I had to open my mind to new possibilities and learned to celebrate my successes (however modest), I had to look critically at myself (dratted ego), I slowly let go (those habits were firmly entrenched), I practiced exacting, correct, basic skills until I was overcome with boredom and then I practiced more. The proof was in the results. The breakthroughs began to happen. The bumps became my friends, the steeps simply a dance, ice no big deal and powder a joy. I shifted from being a poor skier to a teacher who loved to ski and my life got better.

What you practice, you become, even to the tiniest of details in our lives. Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. Should you practice poor skills, then you simply get very, very good at doing things wrong. Like skiing, you cannot practice all skills at the same time. Step back, slow down and work on one thing at a time and keep working it until the correct movement happens without your focused attention, only then will new dimensions open before you. Working on communication, compassion, gratitude, humor, honesty, kindness, thriftiness, creativity, courage and learning will bring great rewards, but remember, they take correct practice. Have fun.

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Success didn’t happen when I practiced old patterns, success happened because I practiced correct skills. Wonderfully, almost surprisingly, everything improved much faster. I see people who can get down slopes with poor skills and they suffer for it. The struggle is apparent and the talk afterwards exposes it. Bumps and steeps really aren’t that hard. The incorrect skills are what make things harder which is true for life skills as well. There are no perfect instructors for every skill. That means we have to seek multiple teachers. I know that is

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Perfecting oneself is as much unlearning as it is learning. — Edsger Dijkstra


March 2021

Valley Voice

An Old Coal Miner Digging Deep


Full Color By Angie Gamble

Can all that was lost come alive once more Can all that has faded come back to full color Will we choose the true heart over the trend of decay Will we abandon the shadows for the full light of day Can we wake up again to the beauty of art A lamppost for life are the things of the heart False comforts betray the meaning beneath Will we leave what is false and turn a new leaf When we uncover the true heart, bright color comes in, new life is found Our heartbeat gives life to all those around To those who have fallen asleep at the sound Of the standards this world has wound To those who have fallen numb to the soul’s meaningful sound The soul’s meaningful sound Can a town come alive again, can the soul be found It used to beat and live and give life to all those around Is it now drunk with toil to numb a search for green papers that fill space-less cyber room yet which cannot match ethereal souls? Will nature’s space be lessened while the people’s appetites expand In a small town that is meant to be a winter wonderland Will we hear the birds sing, will we sit a while Or will the Joneses have their way and we let the moment slip by Will we give ear to the land and the beauty around Will we let the winter and summer resound People giving wake-up calls that echo through the vale Will we hear, will we hear, will we hear There are riches worth more than the whole world over

Yet they cannot be counted by human endeavor You can’t eat money, nor does it feed the soul For it sits in piles waiting for the endless goal Will we be people of the heart or people of the pocketbook? Every soul, every town, every land must look Oh what is it that makes the world go round Is there another way through to be found Can we make a world where all that glitters is true gold Can we make a world where there is no hungry stomach or starving soul I for one will enlist in that army, I for one will enlist in that army The music is still played and still heard by some Is it too distant now to all to come Better yet replay the music in new and creative ways In these modern crossroads sort of days The good news of recovery is not too good or too new For impossibles becoming possible is what makes the world true Leaving aside both pride and fear, wondrous beauties new appear Let us enter in, let us enter in There’s a chance that through all the shaking we will come out better than before, And yet we have to say yes and keep saying yes to the things of the heart and the gauges of truth to the core We must let the shadows be seen for what they are In plain view of matters of the heart When we let go of attachments to all that is false, What we then have room for is worth all of our heart, We can then let in what is worth all of our heart

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

Our Community: Idiosyncratic View By Ted Crook

The Yampa Valley has been my home since 1975, so I think I’ve been here long enough to provide a seasoned view. I could be boring at this point (I do, after all, have many stories), but instead will cut to the chase: I’m convinced the Valley Voice has become one of the strongest forces for maintaining the character of this wacky community we all value so much. Much that happens here is just like what happens in many other towns in the west. There are art galleries, Starbucks, and realtors everywhere. Locals tend to form cohesive units in every resort situation. Not all, though, have a non-profit Old Town Hot Springs. Not all, though, have a Howelsen Hill sports complex. Not all, though, have a Valley Voice. I have spent much of the last decades producing a body of work (3 largely unread novels, several unread math and technology books, a website, and a bunch of Youtube videos). As I grew older, I felt pressure to produce, but no pressure to market. With the covid-spawned life hiatus, however, I have begun to see the value of pushing the edges of my comfort zone. Buying ad space in the Valley Voice was the most gentle way to do that. Facebook (still haven’t posted anything after ten years), Instagram, TikTok, and the like are still too citified for the old man. While some structures in town are unlikely to fail anytime soon--there is even hope for skiing with climate change-others, such as music, drama, and the Valley Voice, are more fragile. I’m not rich and must triage. I bought ad space where I thought it would do the most good for me and the community. If you value the Valley Voice too (and, really, who doesn’t), consider a little support. Post on social media, tell others, shop in the businesses or even buy some ad space for your next rummage sale.

Valley Voice

March 2021

Routt County Memories


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Double Bridges River Site

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By Fran Conlon

On this cold winter day, I’m sure there isn't much thought about the retired river site on the Yampa River. The highway and the railroad both have a bridge over the river; hence, the name “Double Bridges.” As a seasonal river ranger, this was a favorite site, among some 13 sites for access to the river. It was “official,” so there weren't arguments about trespassing on private property. Plus, it had a clean vault toilet that was welcomed by river folk and those land lubbers who wanted a rest area and picnic table. The vault was clean and had a good supply of TP. I know that because along with Park patrol duties, there were cleaning chores. After I did the cleaning and sanitizing of the unit, the place was ready for day surgery. Double Bridges (DB) was near the Park Headquarters, and was the usual start of my patrol of the river, done on land with a big white Park's truck (with insignia and the doors) and power washer, tools, and trash bags aboard. It would be hard to miss the connection and mission I was on. But some folks manage the to think outside the official box. And, I am a tolerant chap in the official Park's brown “Smoky Bear” uniform. The DB site extended around the river bend. No road, as such, so a shore patrol (with trash bag in hand) was my morning routine hiking at the site. On one occasion, around the bend in the bushes was a double bed and couple—as surprised to see me as I was

We have hats, earrings, mugs and more.

to see them. There's no overnight camping, but they made the best of an attractive, out-of-the way river experience. I explained the situation to them, and that I was “pretty busy” with patrol duties, but I will be back in a few hours, and they should be gone, having cleaned up their nesting arrangements. No citation or ticket issued: no bad feelings. I figured it was a reasonably good PR “contact.”





Later, in the afternoon, I checked back and they were gone. A good clean up had been done. Nowadays I drive by the ex-site, as a civilian, and nothing but green growth and the shore and river are there. The vault toilet is gone. The property has reverted back to the owner.




A new boat ramp is at Headquarters, so this DB site is not needed.



Still, for a number of years it was a steadily used site for families and kids, and for the occasional double-bed adventure campers.



It was far enough from town to give the scent of wilderness and the rhythm of the river. That's been years ago. Probably the double-bed couple are parents by now.

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Awake But Dream By Joan Remy

I like the blue light Before the sun comes up I’m sad sometimes This world was never sane Woodstock Thousands hugging 1969 The Vietnam War Hurt so many Another Simulation Sounds familiar With a different theme It’s about Love and Dignity Not fighting each other But standing strong Peacefully

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members. — Coretta Scott King


March 2021

Valley Voice

Tales from the Front Desk

Trees By Aimee Kimmey

The story you are about to read is true... More or less. Tuesday. Front desk. 2:18 pm. The clerk recognized Mrs. Wilson the moment she stepped up to the counter. The woman spoke in the same terse cadence that her many, many emails had been written in. She was planning the perfect vacation with her son, and evidently refused to leave any stone unturned. She'd demanded specific details on the rooms, the hotel amenities, features of the town... By the time they were done, the clerk felt like she had already been on vacation with Mrs. Wilson. In person, the woman was no less demanding. She had marched straight up to the counter like she meant business, her teenage son straggling behind her. "You have us in the deluxe room, with the mountain view." The clerk looked up and smiled, "Ah, Mrs. Wilson?" The woman slid her driver's license across the counter, "I trust you have our room ready? We've been traveling all morning, my son is exhausted!" The boy behind Mrs. Wilson glowered at his feet and pulled out his phone. The clerk smiled. "Absolutely, let me get you checked in." She processed the woman's credit card, then slid the key cards across the counter. Mrs. Wilson arched an eyebrow at the clerk before picking them up, "You have given us the cotton sheets, right? Danny can not have synthetic textiles!" Behind her, young Danny shrunk at the mention of his name, sinking a bit deeper into his phone. "All of our sheets are cotton." The clerk nodded, hoping she was being reassuring. "Well I hope so, my son is dangerously allergic to any polyester. I do not want to a hospital visit on our vacation!" The boy looked up and made eye contact with the clerk for barely a second. The look on his face made her wonder if that's what an animal looks like when it's caught in a trap, contemplating chewing its own leg off. She gave him a small wink, "I'm sure he's going to love it." "Hmph. We'll see." Mrs. Wilson snatched her room keys and stomped out of the lobby. "Let's go Danny." Vaguely defiant, the boy trailed slowly after her, still hunched over his phone. The clerk shrugged and went back to her crossword puzzle. Not ten minutes later, Mrs. Wilson stormed back into the lobby like a tsunami, "There are trees outside of our window!"

The clerk stared blankly at her for a long moment. In a mountain resort town there are trees everywhere; The clerk wasn't quite grasping the tragedy here. And yet, the steam spewing from Mrs. Wilson's ears indicated that she should be taking immediate action. The clerk opened her mouth, but she had nothing, "Uh... yes?" Mrs. Wilson scowled impatiently. She spoke with exaggerated slowness, as if the clerk were exceptionally daft. "The trees. Outside of our 'deluxe view,' they're blocking our view of the mountain!" ... So nature is blocking your view of nature? The clerk thought, even if she wanted to take action, what would she possible be able to do about it? "... Um... Yes?" "I paid extra so that Danny could see the mountains from our room. The website showed a mountain view, you told me we would be able to see the mountain from our room! But all we can see are trees!" "I'm sorry...? I guess that picture is a few years old." The clerk was seriously stumped here. Did the woman expect her to remove the trees? They weren't on the hotel's property, and even if they were...

counter adding all of her weight to the sentence. The clerk could only shrug, "Well, aren't you taking him skiing?" "But he can't see anything from his hotel room! We have trees at home. You assured me that he would have a mountain view! He's a very troubled boy, and this is not helping him!" Staring out the window, Rosie piped up, "Looks like Danny's way ahead of you, he's already got it figured out!" Mrs. Wilson whirled on her, "What?!" Rosie smiled sweetly in the face of the woman's torrent, she pointed out the window, "Your son found himself a great view after all!" Mrs. Wilson marched over to look out the window. The clerk wandered around the counter to follow. Sure enough, young Danny had found an unobstructed view of the mountain. He sat on a bench just off the parking lot, staring peacefully up at the snow covered peaks. His phone resting idle in his hands.

"That's false advertising!" The woman shrieked at her.

Mrs. Wilson's great storm stalled, "Hmph!" She snorted. "It's still false advertising! Don't think I won't include this in my review." She left the lobby in a huff.

In the background, Rosie the house keeper stepped in from the parking lot. She pulled up short to gawk at Mrs. Wilson's tirade.

Rosie's eyes twinkled wickedly as she whispered to the clerk, "I'm no psychologist, but I think I can guess what's troubling the boy!"

"My boy Danny has never seen the mountains, I brought him here specifically to see. The. Mountains. Your website showed a mountain view, not... trees!" She loomed over the

Giggling, the clerk returned to her seat. She looked out the lobby window and enjoyed her view of the trees.

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

Valley Voice

March 2021


On the Dark Side

Conspiracy Schmearacy By Sean Derning

There have been several conspiracy theories thrown about recently, with my favorite being a space laser that has started major wildfires, according to House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) in the Jan. 29, 2021 issue of Newsweek. Greene believes that a space laser funded and controlled by banking, big business and public utilities has started major wildfires in the western U.S. Wildfires here, especially since the summer of 2020, are of huge concern to locals as they threaten homes, government and businesses with the very real threat of losing everything. And as the west experiences an ongoing drought, looking into this theory caught my attention as I wanted peace of mind with summer approaching. My first stop was to speak with Dr. Paul McCudgywudgy, astronomy professor at Colorado Mountain College. He’s got a nifty observatory on campus and can often be found on clear nights scanning the heavens and noting meteor showers, celestial happenings and the like. He agreed to speak with me and I met him at the observatory. “Dr. McCudgywudgy, I need to find out if this rumor of the space laser is real,” I asked. “The security of western forests and public safety depends on finding the truth.” “Yes, I’m familiar with the space laser theory,” he said. “I’ve been looking through my telescope until I’m seeing double but haven’t found it yet. There are 88 different constellations I’ve looked at closely, and have thrown out some of them for obvious reasons. Constellations named after animals are out because their hooves, claws, whatever, can’t pull the trigger on the laser.”

“He said you may know more about this space laser that may be causing forest fires. Is this true?” I asked.

“Mmm. The latke. Warm, crispy. Delicious, yes. You used peanut oil,” he said as he savored the offering.

“If my bubbe could see the farkatke state of the country right now, she’d be all verklempt,” he said. “Oy! I don’t know where that shiksa politician gets her news from, but I got bupkis on a laser.”

“Moshe Yoga, I’m looking to see if the space laser is real or not,” I said desperately. “Where would it be found if it is for real?”

“Listen, be a good boychick and go see Moshe Yoga,” he said. “He used to work retail with me on Alderaan before that schmuck Darth Vader blew it up with his fancyshmansy Death Star. Yoga would know about a laser.” “Where would I find him?” I asked. “He meditates over in the Botanic Garden when the weather’s nice. Bring him a latke, he’ll tell you what you want to know.”

“You listen to rock music, yes?” he asked. “Sure. Why?” “Name the leading British psychedelic progressive rock band, can you?” I had to think for a minute. He waited patiently while leaning on his staff. “Um, Pink Floyd?”

I thanked Ben-Kenobi and tried to figure out where to find potato latkes in town. As a decent chef, I wound up cooking them at home, making sure the outsides were a golden brown, the smell permeating the entire house.

“Indeed,” he assured. “Their largest selling album, do you know?”

I put the latkes in a basket, making sure to keep them warm before going to find Moshe Yoga. I found him at the Botanic Garden, staring across the pond. He was small, about three feet in height, green, wearing a white robe and had large protruding ears.

“Correct again,” he said. “It is there you will find the space laser.”

As I approached from behind, he said, “Smell a Gentile bearing latkes, I do.” He turned toward me. “Moshe Yoga, I was sent by Obi-Wan Ben-Kenobi. He said you were fond of latkes. Please try mine.”

“Dark Side of the Moon?”

“The space laser is hiding behind the dark side of the moon?!” I exclaimed. “Thank you so much, Moshe Yoga!” I vigorously pumped his tiny hand and walked away, refreshed with the new knowledge. So it is true. There really is a space laser. It makes so much sense. You can’t prove what you can’t see. Or can you?

“But I think there are clues to other constellations named after Greek dieties that may be suspect,” said the doctor. “Orion the Hunter could be one because the laser could be hanging from a holster on his belt. Sagittarius the Archer could have it in his quiver. Centaurus, the half man, half horse and Auriga the Charioteer are both suspect because they are capable of a drive by shooting. Cassiopeia, the vain queen infatuated with her beauty, could have it as she may use it to perform nip and tuck laser surgery. So far, no luck. I’m sorry.” “Is there anyone else in the area I might be able to contact to see if they know of the laser?” I asked. “You might try Obi-Wan Ben-Kenobi over at Har Mishpacha on Oak Street. A former Jedi warrior and interstellar real estate tax advisor, he is very knowledgeable about space.” That Friday, I approached Ben-Kenobi after the Shabbat service. He was dressed in a brown cloak and sandals, which I thought bold due to it being the middle of winter. “Mr. Ben-Kenobi, I was sent on the advice of Dr. McCudgywudgy, who spoke very highly of you and your experience in space,” I said. “McCudgywudgy? He’s been a mensch for years,” said Ben-Kenobi.

Soda Springs Pagoda in West Lincoln Park / Photo by Gwen Skinner

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. — Ralph Waldo Emerson


March 2021

Valley Voice


Your Monthly Message By Chelsea Yepello Aries

March 21 - April 19

It will give you an eerie sense of empowerment when you realize that you are one of the mysterious “them” that people refer to in fear and dread.


April 20 - May 20


May 20 - June 20

The skeletons in your closet have spent time working on themselves and have decided that they no longer want to be identified as your skeletons or secrets, but from now on, would like to be identified as pro-covert-skin absent-wardrobe-dwellers. You are trying to spread a rumor about yourself that you are a dental enthusiast and are crusading to save children from a lifetime of oral problems. But the truth is, you just like taking candy from children and watching their eyes well up with tears while you eat their treats in front of them.


June 21 - July 22

You attempt to prove to yourself that you are a responsible person, so you decide to grow a plant from seed and not only keep it alive, but make sure it thrives. After careful planning and attention, it does grow into a beautiful, tall, healthy... well you might want to do something with that plant before your landlord smells it.



July 23 - August 23





You will obtain a small amount of wealth when you create a 'kicking puppies’ emoticon. Unfortunately, that wealth isn’t worth being known as the guy that created the ‘kicking puppies’ emoticon. Dude, what’s wrong with you? Do better.

August 23 - September 22

Recreational & Medical

1755 Lincoln Avenue Steamboat Springs, CO On the Free Bus Route

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

November 22 - December 21

Your co-workers pointless gossip will quickly go from worthless to invaluable, when you overhear one of them describing what terrible and horrifying things the other one did to the mayonnaise in the employee fridge, thus saving you and your innocent turkey sandwich from a lot of internal discomfort and embarrassment.

Steamboat Springs Walden


December 22 - January 19

You’ve been told that you have street smarts. At least, that’s what the guy with the shifty eyes and creepy mustache told you while you were showing him what the inside of your wallet looked like.



October 24 - November 21

Soon, you will willingly move to an area of the county where earthquakes are a common natural disaster. Not for the adventure, or interest in science, or to help with disaster relief. You just want to move somewhere that gives your vast collection of bobble-heads their best life.




September 23 - October 23

You acknowledge that you haven't lost your sense of childlike wonder as you find yourself crawling on all fours, following a little ant to see where it brings a tiny piece of bread its carrying. Though some people might think your enthusiasm and curiosity are very endearing, it doesn’t seem to be making a good impression on a first date.

Willy Wonka’s mental stability is questioned when he unveils his new candy “Sunburned Gingersnaps,” a glob of bland coconut cream, enrobed in a thin cherry shell and covered in tiny off-colored sprinkles. You can’t stop eating them, but every mouthful fills you will a vague sense of rage and guilt. After years of researching, you are shocked to learn that wizards have finally found a way to capture, shrink and generally tame the terrifying mystical dragons of Middle


Earth. They have commonly been found under heat lamps in undeserving children’s rooms and have silly, demeaning names like Slinky, Noodle or Mr. Slithers.

January 20 - February 18

February 19 - March 20

You feel so many complicated emotions while sitting in a dark theatre with each other. You will whisper secrets and inside jokes in one another’s ears, your hands will graze as you both reach for the popcorn and your eyes will meet briefly in the light of the lit movie screen. Then as the movie ends, you will lean in and say; “Thanks for taking me to the movie Mom.”

Valley Voice

By Matt Scharf

“Newbies” On Parade

March 2021



March 2021

Valley Voice

The Y-NOT WAGON Weekdays: 11-5 / Depending on weather

.846.8039 970 Located at Elk River Road and Copper Ridge Circle

Classic Beef Cheese Steak Chicken Cheese Steak Mushroom & Swiss Philly Buffalo Chicken Philly Cheeseburger Fish Sandwich Fish & Chips Fried Chicken Skewers Street Taco

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Splitter Dog Corn Dog Grilled Cheese Add Bacon Kraft Mac & Cheese Crinkle Cut Fries Hash Brown Cakes Cans $1. / Jarritos $2. Energy Drinks $3.

Come Visit Our New Location 111 9th Street Downtown Steamboat Springs For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

$5. $3. $3. $2. $3. $5. $2.ea

Classic Beef Cheese Steak


Located across from Lyon’s Drug!