August 23, 2013
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People have been subsisting on grouse for as long as people have roamed this land. One of the West’s most iconic species, the sage grouse is known for its stately courtship dance. Their numbers were once so prolific that explorers described flocks that would “darken the skies.”
Endangered animals, endangered fish, endangered plants and endangered rivers — one of these things is not like the others yet with the naming by American Rivers of the White and the Upper Colorado Rivers as endangered, all of these things now exist in Northwest Colorado.
My grandfather Cecil Nelson was a tall, cantankerous man who, after he retired from a career in rout sales, went back to work full-time at the area hardware stores. He loved to tease and torture his grandchildren with classical country music. You know, the type that has the scratchy sounds of vinyl, the twang of a banjo and the hum of a good harmony. Songs like the “Wichita Lineman.” With two new high-power, super-sized transmission lines proposed to carve out virgin ground across our county, I find I have linemen on my mind.
The other day, I passed the guy with the “Tree Huggers Suck” sticker on the windshield of his beat-up pickup. The first time I saw this truck was after a long contentious day when a professional conservationist feels like a lone voice in a wilderness study area and I was further discouraged. This time I just grinned as I know I’m not alone.
Through the peaks and canyons of far Northwest Colorado run two rivers, the Green and the Yampa, carving gashes as deep as 2,500 feet into the red sandstone. The untamed rivers with Class III to V rapids captured the interest of explorers like John Wesley Powell, who led the first recorded scientific expedition in 1869, and intrepid reporters from The Denver Post who wrote about their attempt to run the rivers in 1928. The photos and stories of these daring adventures enticed thrill-seekers to journey to what is now Dinosaur National Monument to ride the rivers solely for recreation. According to many, this was the beginning of the whitewater rafting industry in Colorado.