Where the sage grouse roam, Part III: Will new regulations threaten Northwest Colorado's energy economy?
At a time when city and county officials are scrambling to find ways to diversify Moffat County’s economy to ensure its survival into the future, increased regulation designed to preserve sage grouse habitat could threaten to close the door on future oil and gas development.
A few days ago it officially — by the calendar — turned summer. Here I’ve been writing about winter and spring at Pipi’s Pasture for what seems to be a long time so now it’s summer’s turn. Here’s what I’ve noticed about early summer.
On a cold, April morning, nearly 170 sage grouse cocks convene in a dormant rye field in northern Moffat County with their tail feathers held high and white, feathery chests proudly puffed. Driven by testosterone and deeply rooted instincts, the male birds gather at annual mating grounds known as leks, alternatively described as both a dance floor and a singles bar for sage grouse. They come seeking to mate.
The Country School Reunion that I’ve been writing so much about so much lately was held Saturday, June 13. It was fun to meet up with people we hadn’t seen in years and, in some cases, years and years. We learned about Moffat County country schools that we’d never heard of before. In short, the reunion was a huge success, and my sister Charlotte (Osborn) Allum and her husband, John, were here to enjoy it with me.
It wasn’t the average dog and pony show Saturday at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. The Moffat County Draft Horse Show displayed the bond between humans and their hooved companions, with contestants from across the state, as well as from Utah and Wyoming. Organizer Mardi Anson provided announcing and commentary for the event, which featured more than one dozen demonstrations of handler-horse showmanship for all ages.
Every now and then a feller has a weekend that is hard to forget. I had one years ago on a beautiful ranch in southern California.
This week we have been moving cattle from Pipi’s Pasture to summer pasture, and along the way we pass the Morapos School. As we pass by the school building, I think about those school days of long ago. As I wrote in last week’s column, I have a hard time remembering all of the teachers and the kids that went to school there by years. However, I do remember some things about our school days.
Early this morning, when I was walking to the corral here at Pipi’s Pasture to do chores, I noticed the smell of the sagebrush that grows in a nearby field. I don’t usually notice the scent at all, but perhaps this morning was different because of all of the rain. Anyway, that smell triggered memories of the days when my siblings and I went to the Morapos School all those years ago.
An effort to protect the greater sage grou¬¬¬se across 11 Western states took a step forward Thursday with the release of 14 Final Environmental Impact Statements from the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.
Business news from across Craig and Moffat County.
We’re so thankful for all of the moisture. The rain has greened up the pastures, and a little water is even seeping into the summer pasture ponds. It’s wet—that’s for sure.
It’s been an even busier-than-usual week here at Pipi’s Pasture. The second of my twin first-calf heifers, the smaller of the two, had her baby. I have been checking her at nights for awhile now, but this week she looked close to calving so I had to be even more watchful. Hats off to ranchers who have to calve out hundreds of first-calf heifers! Having to get up at all hours during the night really drains the energy from one’s body!
Sheep, sunshine and green pastures created a warm welcome for 40 members of the Colorado State University Extension Agency who gathered in Craig this week for their Western Slope Regional Meeting.
Last week’s column was a recollection of what it was like to be a country school teacher. In the column I wrote that my sisters and I attended the Morapos School through the eighth grade and then attended high school in Craig. I goofed. Our sister Darlene attended seven grades at Morapos and then went to eighth-grade at the Craig high school. When I talked to her a few days ago, Darlene explained that having country school kids attend eighth-grade in Craig was a sort of “trend” in those days. It was intended as a sort of transition before starting high school.
Since hearing about the Country School Reunion that is being planned for this summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about the country schools, especially the Morapos School which can still be seen on our family ranch property.