| CraigDailyPress.com

Do you want to cut down your own Christmas tree? Here’s how to do it.

As Christmas’s oldest debates about traditions come back around, one tends to stick out among the rest. Do you put up a real Christmas tree or a fake one?

For most households, just a trip to a local Christmas tree farm is enough to fill that need for having a real tree in their homes during the holidays. They simply pick out the prettiest 7-footer and bring it home. However, for the dedicated few, going out into the wilderness is their way of celebrating a longtime Christmas tradition.

For those wanting to venture out into the forest to bring home their family Christmas tree for the first time, here are some tips on how to do that on Colorado public lands.

How and where to harvest

Everyone looking to cut down their own tree must have a permit from the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service. Most permits are $10.

The closest national forest that’s available for harvesting is Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, which is overseen by the USFS. You can cut up to five trees, and each tree costs $10.

According to an interactive map from BLM, the nearest open areas to cut down trees on public BLM lands is in Rio Blanco County near White River National Forest. There are three harvest areas near Yellow Creek, and there is another cluster of areas to the west of Douglas Creek.

There are also areas to cut trees and firewood in Gypsum, and several others in Garfield County just north of Rifle. It’s recommended that harvesters call ahead to the BLM office that oversees the particular area where they are looking to cut down a tree — since restrictions and guidelines vary among BLM field offices. For the northwest region of Colorado, there are three offices in the district: the Kremmling Field Office (where permits are $6), the Little Snake Field Office in Craig and the White River Field Office in Meeker.

If you are traveling farther down the Western Slope, those areas may be covered by the Grand Junction Field Office.

What to know before you go

It is very likely that you won’t have cell phone services in these forest areas, so both the BLM and the USFS advise that harvesters do not rely on GPS, bring maps of the area with them and to notify someone of where they are going before leaving areas of service. It is also best to start early in the day to assure you find your tree and leave with it before it gets dark.

There are also general rules when it comes to chopping down a tree once you have the permit.

First, it’s illegal to top trees, meaning to just cut off branches toward the top of the tree, leaving behind blunt, unnatural-looking stumps on trees. BLM also advises to cut below the lowest limb and leave no more six inches of the stump behind. Tree seekers should check road conditions before going out to cut down a tree and to wear bright colors, as hunting season continues.

At Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest areas, trees that are harvested can not be taller than 20 feet and can not have a stump diameter of more than six inches. The USFS also advises that you do not drag your tree on the ground when you take it back to the car; dragging it will cause needles and bark to rub off, leaving bare spots on your tree.

In Routt National Forest, there are several districts that have different rules when it comes to where exactly you can cut down a tree.

In the Hahns Peak-Bears Ears Ranger District, avoid cutting trees in the Fish Creek Falls Recreation Area, the Steamboat Ski Area, the Freeman Recreation area and the Sherman Youth Camp. In the Yampa Ranger District, you cannot cut trees in the Bear River Corridor within 200 feet of Forest Road 900.

BLM also prohibits damaging or disturbing any tree with visible cavities or other evidence of wildlife use like nests, using heavy equipment to cut down trees, or harvesting within 150 feet of the centerline of any flowing watercourse or paved road or highway.

You also cannot sell trees or firewood that you harvested from public lands.

For more information about how to get to harvesting areas and buying permits, call the BLM Little Snake Office at (970) 826-5000 or the Hahns Peak-Bears Ears Ranger District at (970) 870-2299.


Community compassion drives effort to help disabled veteran out of uninhabitable living situation

When Beth Newkirk learned how her friend was living, she couldn’t sit and wait for somebody else to help.

When Monty Robertson went to help, he realized quickly just how bad the situation was was.

Newkirk and Robertson work and volunteer at the Community Kitchen at St. Michael’s Church in Craig. Through Newkirk’s efforts to get food and other services to shut-ins and others in need, she learned that an elderly, disabled veteran friend of hers and the kitchen’s was in a bad spot.

“We heard he as trying to get moved to a different living situation,” Newkirk said. “Debbie Belleville, she’s a veterans advocate and she was working on it too. But we just knew we had to step in and get him out of that situation.”

The Vietnam veteran, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, had fallen through the floor of the dilapidated mobile home. A sink had been dripping, maybe for months. There was mold everywhere. Plywood was covering holes or soft spots in the floor. It wasn’t good.

Newkirk wasn’t willing to accept it. She sent a volunteer, Robertson, who helps out with handyman-type jobs when necessary, to fix the sink, at least.

“They asked me to fix a water leak under his kitchen sink,” Robertson said. “It was probably due to a plumber coming and putting in a faucet for him, but he said the plumber said he’d come back to fix it. Well he never came. That was months ago, and it was just spraying. It was his only source of water, his hot water heater was shut off, the forced air furnace was off. The floor was unbelievable.”

The man had a truck, though it didn’t run. The wheelchair didn’t fit through the front door, but, Robertson said, there was a larger door in the truck. The man’s brother, he said, was supposed to come install it.

“I know this guy’s brothers,” Robertson said. “The one died 16 years ago. The other seven years ago. This just hit me — this guy doesn’t have anybody. I fixed the water, but looking around just said, ‘You can’t live like this.’”

Belleville, Newkirk said, had helped secure a new place to live, but moving was hitting some snags. That’s where the kitchen came in.

“We worked as a team,” Newkirk said. “Several volunteers from the kitchen, bless their hearts. We needed him moved that Monday and so we got it done.”

It was a gruesome job. But it was a labor of love.

“We wore gloves and masks,” Newkirk said. “It was really sad, but what bothered me the most was to think that our veterans were getting treated like this. It’s very sad. I’m sure he’s not the only veteran in Moffat County in need, but this gentleman. No heat, water dripping. No one deserves to live like that.”

The service fell on a grateful man.

“He’s such a nice guy,” Newkirk said. “Very grateful, the kindest things. There are things we take for granted — hot water, he couldn’t wait to get moved to finally have a hot shower. That made me think about a lot of things. I take a shower every day, and I don’t think about not having hot water to access.”

For the crew, the opportunity to serve was, as Newkirk said it, extremely hard to put into words.

“It’s indescribable,” she said. “That’s the only word. There’s no way to express how I felt.”

And for the recipient of this good service, it changed his life.

“He’s completely different,” Newkirk said. “It’s taken a while for him to get used to a clean, safe environment, to have hot water accessible. He’s so grateful. And I told him this isn’t a drop in the bucket as to what you deserve for putting your life on the line for all of us. It’s touched him, and I think we probably have a friendship that’s even stronger than in the past.”

Robertson has felt the power of the effort as well, though he notes it’s not done. Money is needed, and Robertson is looking at setting up an account to receive donations at a local bank. He’s hopeful the community will continue to chip in to help this neighbor in need.

“There are good people here, and throughout the country, really,” Robertson said. “It’s sad you don’t always hear about those good things as much as other things, but there are good people. A lot of good people are in Craig, and there’s a lot in all communities, really.”

Obituary: Monty Ray Ages

May 1, 1952 – November 21, 2021

Monty Ages, of Craig, died Sunday, November 21, 2021 at The Memorial Regional Health Hospital. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to The Moffat County Cancer Society in care of Grant Mortuary.

Obituary: Leslie Cook

April 25, 1946 – October 21, 2021

Survived by husband Butch Cook, children Arro Cook (Calla), Kara Neff (Adam), Adam Cook (Amy), 9 grandchildren & 4 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to:
Gideon’s @ PO Box 770858 Steamboat Springs, CO 80477

Passion for running, hiking leads Grivy family to bring new retail option to Craig

Nathan Grivy, left, and Brandy Grivy pose for a photo in their under-construction new store, The 14er, which will sell high-quality running and hiking gear in Craig once opened in December.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

Nathan Grivy hadn’t run for years.

In fact, the first time Grivy laced up an old pair of sneakers and got out for a run, it was the first time he’d done it with any real intention since his days in the military a veritable lifetime ago. What happened next — an almost immediate foot injury thanks, in part, to unsuitable footwear — could have ended Grivy’s nascent efforts to find a new passion before they could even get going.

Instead, that setback years ago has directed him forward ever since.

With his wife, Brandy, Nathan Grivy is a few weeks away from opening a new retail offering in Craig that will work to overcome the problem Grivy discovered when he started running again by providing quality, appropriately fit shoes and other gear to runners both brand-new and experienced.

“I was reading a book, and at the end it said to write down what your perfect day would be,” Nathan Grivy said. “That evolved into this. I have a business degree, so I wrote a business plan that looked at how I could incorporate my love for running and for the outdoors into a store. Something that represents this corner of Colorado. What can we do that’s different than anyone else? That’s how we got to this store.”

The Grivys are the owners of a soon-to-open store in Craig called The 14er. The storefront, located at 424 Russell Street, is on track to hopefully open mid-December, as the Grivys’ feet are in motion.

“There’s nothing like this around,” Brandy Grivy said. “Even going to Steamboat Springs, it’s not really there anymore — Twisted Trails was but went out of business — and that’s actually how we got thrown into this so quick. Twisted Trails was going out of business, and (the owner) was getting rid of everything, so we worked out a deal.”

The 14er will offer, among other things, personalized treadmill-monitored gait analysis to help customers determine exactly what type of shoe their feet and body need to be most successful.

“We want to make sure they get into the shoes they need,” Brandy Grivy said. “We’ll see what’s going on with your stride. Do you need zero drop? Are you pronating (or) supinating? (We) will get you the right shoe.”

For Nathan Grivy, the passion and enjoyment he’s discovered in running and hiking is what fuels the desire to bring this business to Craig.

“If you decided tomorrow you want to start running and have no knowledge of what you’re doing, went down, bought a pair of shoes at Payless and started running, then you injure yourself right out of the gate, you’ll think, ‘Running’s not for me. That sucked,’” Nathan Grivy said. “You think you’ll never do this again, that it’s stupid. But if you’d taken a different approach, maybe had the right shoe, some education, started at a slower pace, you built up to where you wanted to be, you might have found a new passion that you do for the rest of your life.”

Grivy said that running, besides being healthy for the body, is a life-changing pursuit for him.

“It’s really turned into a kind of therapy for me,” he said. “It’s something I really enjoy, and it’s clearing my head after a long day.”

The store, named after Colorado’s dozens of iconic 14,000-foot peaks, will also sell hiking, ultralight camping and even some hunter-appropriate gear, the Grivys said.

On top of that, a juice, smoothie and protein shake bar inside the store will, the Grivys hope, serve to help unite the community around health.

“You can’t find that stuff around here,” Brandy Grivy said. “We want to be a healthy way to go.”

Nathan Grivy envisions something really special.

“We’d love to have this place where you can come and get a healthy juice or a protein shake, maybe sit and have a drink while your wife or your husband is looking at shoes,” he said. “But then also we’ve got the Crossfit gyms up the street — Linnsfit, Trapper, Breeze Street — and what if people after a workout buzz over here, grab a shake and just hang out? Just appeal to those groups, get people over here to see what it is.”

Grivy hopes that extends to organized group runs and maybe one day local race events.

“We want to be really community-focused,” he said.

Challenges will include the price points consumers should expect with top-quality equipment but that Craig shoppers might not be used to, and a somewhat off-the-beaten-path location tucked a bit off the street on Russell between 4th and Victory.

But the Grivys believe they can overcome this and capitalize on a massive hole in the local retail space, and that this can be something that works for them and for Craig.

“I think if we take it cautiously, don’t go crazy out of the gate, we’ll grow,” Nathan Grivy said. “I think our main focus is providing quality equipment, shoes and experiences to people that will come here.”

Jones: Riding for the brand

Loy Jones

The reaction is the same every time.

There’s a twinkle in the corner of their eye. There’s a little puffing of the chest. A smile expands across their face. Most of them even clear their throat. That’s what happens when you ask someone about their brand.

The sense of pride that every single rancher I’ve ever asked about their brand is unanimous. They’re proud of the hard work that saved the dollars for them to buy the certain brand they’ve always wanted. They’re proud of the fact they drew the brand themselves and went through the whole process to make it their own. And if they’re really lucky, they’re proud of the generations of ranchers before them that shared the same last name who passed the brand down to them.

Pride and respect. There’s this perfect balance that we all try and master in the journey of life. When the two are in balance, pride and respect are the reason no corners are cut, no gates are left open and the leather is still cared for as if it’s supposed to last forever. It’s the balance that creates the legacy of the west.

I’ll never forget the day my family moved to a new ranch to manage in my teenage years. My dad sent me out on horseback to catch up with the owners of the ranch and told me “sis, you ride for his brand now”.

It was that simple, he didn’t have to spell it out for me. I knew how much we respected our brand and I knew how much pride I felt for it too. So we cared for the animals as if they were our own and we improved where we could as if it would be the ranch left to our own.

I wish that everyone knew what it was like to have a brand, to want to pass on a legacy of sorts, to show up every day proud of the life they’re making no matter what they’re doing, all while giving their neighbor the same respect for what’s on their side of the fence.

I’ll be forever grateful for the lessons I’ve learned when riding for the brand.

Longtime, now departing CNCC board member Wymore won’t be going far

Lois Wymore has seen it all.

When you ask her what aspects of Colorado Northwestern Community College she has been a part of, she starts listing and does not stop. Honestly, she admits, she does not remember all of the committees and groups she has been on. If it exists or has ever existed at CNCC in Craig, Wymore said she was most likely part of it at some point.

For decades, Wymore has impacted and worked to improve campus life in Craig with various acts of service to the community. That will end in an official capacity this coming January, when her term on the Moffat County Affiliated Junior College Board ends.

Taking a sip of decaf coffee, Wymore said that CNCC can’t get rid of her that easily.

“I’m excited,” she said. “Because, sometimes, new is good, you know? It’s time for somebody else to put in their few years, to pay attention (and) to follow money, but as a citizen — and because it’s been my passion forever — I can’t just walk away right now.”

The days of her service to the Craig campus began in the early 1980s. A petition was floating around the community to gather interest in creating a board at the Craig campus. A board for the college and a mill levy meant free tuition for the community. Wymore agreed, thinking that free tuition in the community was necessary, and the rest is history.

“There was a vote, and somebody asked me if I would pass a petition around my neighborhood, so I walked,” Wymore said. “I said ‘We need to do this. This is cool. This means everybody can take classes.’ That was my first experience, and that passed with flying colors.”

Since then, CNCC has received three mills from property taxes in the community. As time passed, Wymore also wanted to take advantage of the free tuition. She was a student representative to the foundation of the college and took at least three years of classes with the offer of free tuition.

“I got invited to be in this displaced homemakers thing,” she said. “And if I went basically to counseling once a month, they would pay for my books, and I thought, ‘Oh, you mean if I go and (talk) with people once a month, I’ll get free books? Now, I can do that.’ That, to me, was just a fun experience.”

After three years of classes, a seat on the college’s board opened. After a season of campaigning, Wymore said she won by only 12 votes — many of which she credits to the town of Dinosaur, where she was the only candidate who campaigned.

“Since the first class I took, I’ve always thought I was a positive spokesman for CNCC,” Wymore said.

She does not shy away from expressing her opinions about anything. There’s no need to sugarcoat, Wymore said, and she does not want to leave anyone with questions about certain decisions or her feelings.

Wymore stays skeptical of new leadership — especially administrators who tend to bring a more traditional view of academia toward what Wymore says is a nontraditional campus. Over the course of the last three decades, she’s seen administrators come and go, and not all of them have left the school better than they found it, she said. She notes a particularly dark time, when 149 people left CNCC in just four years. It’s her goal to make sure this never happens again.

“It was just administrative stupidity. It should have never happened,” Wymore said. “We lost so much intellectual talent. We’ve lost people that had years of history. With me going off the board, I’m probably one of the last that really knows the history. There’s a few others that hung in there.”

To Wymore, education is everything. She thinks a community college should represent the population it serves, and that taxpayers should have a say in what programs should exist there. Career-technical education — like automotive skills, electrician work and allied health — is a focus of hers. That’s why she’s sticking around on the sidelines.

“We’ll see what happens, but I am optimistic,” Wymore said. “I would hate to see it go, but I’m still going to watch them for a year. If they don’t move forward — because we’ve got to stop spinning downward — then should we, as a county, be spending mills? If our opinion doesn’t count, if what we want here doesn’t count, then perhaps we shouldn’t support it as the taxpayers. So that’s the reason I’m staying involved — just because I’m not above killing the mill.”

United Way’s Getting Ahead program celebrates 11 new grads

Moffat County United Way

United Way in Craig is celebrating 11 new graduates in its Getting Ahead program. As part of the 18-session class, students are taught and given resources to further advance their success, including workforce skills, money management and goal-setting.

With these skills, graduates have the skills to create a more sound future for themselves and their families. Samantha Wilson, Community Impact Coordinator for United Way, said that graduates who go through the program investigate different aspects of the community to develop connections and resources to learn about skills.

“Graduation is a special event for our investigators. For some of them, this is their first experience of graduation. Getting Ahead is an incredible program where we investigate some tough topics. We are honored to have the opportunity to continue to support and encourage our graduates,” Wilson said in a press release. “Graduates of the program also receive support from the Moffat County United Way Community Impact Coordinator for two years through monthly group and one-on-one meetings.”

The program now has 181 graduates. Applications are now being accepted for the next class that begins in January.

The rush begins

Pipi's Pasture

Thanksgiving 2021 is done, and now the Christmas rush begins. For awhile now I’ve listened to reports on the news, advising people to finish holiday shopping early because many products are in short supply, and then to mail earlier than usual because it will take packages longer to get to their destinations this year — and what isn’t taking longer? So for once I actually listened and ordered some Christmas gifts back during the summer. I even started picking up items during regular shopping trips.

I piled everything in an empty spot in the back hallway — and “pile” is accurate. Boxes and bags of Christmas gifts have been stacked up there all summer and fall until I was pretty sure visitors were thinking I might be hoarding stuff. So, in order to get the mess cleaned up and to get packages ready for mailing before Dec. 1, I decided to devote the entire day on Saturday to wrapping everything.

I cleaned off half of the dining room table and brought out all of the wrapping supplies. I propped the rolls of paper up against the dining room table, all except for one that rolled away into the kitchen with paper trailing behind. I set bags of ready-made bows on the floor next to the table and a bag of tissue papers beside them. The Christmas tags, rolls of ribbon, two rolls of cellophane, scissors, pens, and other such supplies were stacked neatly on the table, and a space was left for wrapping.

One by one, I brought the gifts from the hallway stash to the table. At first, everything went well. I cut, taped, wrapped, and made out tags, but then the wrapping space started getting cluttered with odds and ends of paper, too-short pieces of ribbon, tags removed from the gifts, and more. I had to hunt up the scissors and then the tape and the pen—not so easy to find in the growing clutter.

And then there were the larger items that needed to be wrapped, such as my great-granddaughter’s set of doll dishes. Picture a big roll of paper on the end of the table with the box of dishes on top and me trying to estimate the amount of paper needed and cutting it off — just a little too short when I’d finished. It was either clean off the table and start again or cut a piece of paper to fit the gap left by what I had already cut.

Needless to say, I was tired when the day’s work was done, and then there was the boxing of what had to be mailed. I am the absolute worst at packaging stuff for mailing. There isn’t a box that I take to the post office that isn’t bulging because I put too much in it or overly-taped (way overly-taped) because I’m convinced the tape will make a difference. But, hey, I’m ahead of the game this year, and that says something.

Writers on the Range: A grassroots effort can defy the odds

Soda Butte Creek before it was restored and after.
National Park Service/Courtesy photo

This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most spectacular conservation victories in recent history: the defeat of a massive gold mine planned for the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park.

Louisa Wilcox

Called the New World mine, it was proposed by the Canadian corporate giant Noranda, and it had a lot of momentum behind it. Yet the mine would have destroyed world-class trout fisheries and wild places for grizzlies and other wildlife in and around the nation’s first park.

Noranda planned to industrialize a rugged corner of the Beartooth Mountains of Montana and Wyoming with its underground mine, mill site and work camp, and 70-mile long, high voltage transmission line. An 80-acre lake of mine waste would have flooded a wetland, all this at the headwaters of three drainages in a landscape prone to avalanches, earthquakes and blizzards.

As Stu Coleman of Yellowstone National Park put it, “If you threw a dart at a map of the United States, you could not hit a worse place to put a mine.”

Still, the mine seemed a sure thing. No mine on public land had ever been stopped, thanks to the power of the Mining Law of 1872, passed the same year that Yellowstone Park was designated. It gives hard-rock mining priority over all other activities. Working back then for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, I recall being told that fighting Noranda was futile and perhaps dangerous.

What happened, though, felt like a miracle. A coalition of unlikely allies came together: anglers, hunters, ranchers, snowmobilers, park visitors, conservationists, scientists, artists and local businesses. All agreed that Yellowstone Park and the nearby wild country were more precious than gold. Together with officials from Yellowstone Park and the Interior Department, they created such a storm of opposition that President Bill Clinton finally intervened.

Looking back, what we did seems like textbook organizing, combining legal and media work supported by generous donors. It took a seven-year campaign until Noranda, beaten in court and bruised by negative public opinion, was eager for a way out.

Negotiations were complex, but on Aug. 12, 1996, President Clinton announced a deal that stopped the mine, bought out Noranda’s interest, retired its claims, and restored lands that had been heavily damaged by mining activity from decades earlier.

I remember feeling amazed when this David and Goliath battle ended. It would still take years for the government to purchase most of the mining claims, and almost two decades to restore the area’s toxic streams.

At a celebration this year of the 25th anniversary of Clinton’s announcement, veterans of the fight shared reminiscences, marveling again that we won. Some had gone on to lead other successful campaigns, including bringing back wolves to Yellowstone and protecting the Wyoming Range and Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front from oil and gas development.

All of these campaigns needed strong coalitions and luck to succeed. What did they have in common?

Locally, they shared a diverse and fired-up grassroots base. Then they were able to develop legal and communications strategies that reached out regionally, even nationally. And, because the battles dragged on, they required stamina, leadership, a high level of coordination — and, crucially, substantial funding.

What helped was that the battles centered on wild places or species whose iconic status generated wide support.

In more than 40 years of conservation advocacy, I have seen numerous campaigns fail. Advocates often misunderstood the complexity of what they faced or the need to adapt as circumstances changed. They lacked the skill and openness to sustain a broad-based coalition, ran out of money or the political climate soured. Sometimes, champions abandoned the fight because the struggle just lasted so long. Success, I’m sorry to say, is hardly the norm.

Yet how wondrous it is when you save a place or restore a species. The New World site is not an industrial nightmare now.

Cutthroat trout swim again in upper Soda Butte Creek. Wildflowers abound in areas where tons of poisonous waste from earlier gold mining is now safely buried. A weasel has created a palace in a collapsed miner’s cabin, and grizzlies excavate whitebark pine seeds nearby that were cached by squirrels.

To me, the New World campaign was not just about stopping a mine. It was about a burning love for a special place that inspired us to keep working together to achieve a shared goal.