730 bonus days

Dear Editor,

Every day is a bonus day for me since August 7, 2011. That was when my main coronary artery clotted. I was a goner! But at the Music Festival were Pam and Chris ready for an emergency call. They got me to the ER in a hurry. Meanwhile the helicopter was dispatched and on its way. My heart stopped once in the copter, and I arrived in Denver for removal of the clot with no time to spare. They and everyone along the way, starting with the EMS, saved my life, and gave me a second go around.

How anyone here would not support the Emergency Services District I cannot comprehend. If your house were on fire, you know who you would call, and if you had a life-threatening health crisis, you also know who you would call. Like a thief in the night these things happen unannounced.

This August 7, 2013 I will celebrate bonus day 730. These last two years have been the most important and rewarding years of my life. The meaning and purpose of life have come more into focus. I love my wife, my friends, and Crestone. I am grateful and happy to be alive here in Crestone enjoying another bonus day.

Vince Palermo


Emotional reactivity

Dear Editor,

We have been told that we have as our basic nature intelligence, wisdom, basic goodness and compassion. So, why is there so much war—personal war, inner conflict, relationship problems, world war?

What is the main obstacle for humans to reliably connect with our basic goodness and empathy? We seem to know a lot about our basic nature, especially if we are following a genuine spiritual path. But we do not seem to know much at all about the primary obstacle . . . emotional reactivity. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) teaches how to identify, own, embrace, work with and overcome emotional reactivity . . . which is about us, comes entirely from us, and obscures our vision in clouds of blindness and confusion. Emotional reactivity is often a painful hook that tells us to attack or run away or shut down. Happily, it is also an opportunity for learning—whenever we can stay with the discomfort and get curious instead of defensive, look inward instead of blaming someone else, or ourselves. This blaming can fool us and be so subtle in our being that we are simply convinced that we are right. Blame, in this way, is actually an obstacle, a convenience that tricks us into taking the easy path. Well, it feels good to be right! But in contrast to this short-term choice of easy blame and false comfort, becoming one with, and opening to, our own energy in the moment of painful emotional reactivity is difficult. Becoming conscious of which choice we make between blame and openness is a good first step toward dispelling obstacles and connecting with our basic intelligence, wisdom, empathy and compassion. Becoming conscious, in this way, of our inner choices is subtle work; it leads us into unfamiliar territory that can challenge our fixed identity and question who we are. But it can also soften us and lessen our self-created mental suffering. Psychologist Stan Grof observed during an all-night Indian peyote ceremony that, “In the crucible of ritual, a man comes to recognize the hated Other as a long-buried part of himself.”

Paul Shippee


If it’s not broke don’t spend tax dollars to fix it

Dear Editor,

Many Baca residents have no doubt noticed the new asphalt paving that that occurred recently on both Badger Rd. and Wagon Wheel Rd.  Like me, many of you have probably wondered why out tax money is being spent on repaving two perfectly sound county roads when other road sections such as the southern two miles of Camino Baca Grande and the western unpaved section of Camino Del Rey are in dire need of paving.  Did the county road supervisor give bad information to the county commissioners who made the final decision on the new paving, or did these politicians do, like many politicians do, simply excersize little if any sound judgement on spending our tax dollars unless, of course, it directly benefits them.

Garin Biester


Library clarification

Dear Editor,

Many of you have told me you’ve heard that the Baca Grande Library will be moving to the former Curt’s Store. Let me set the record straight.

The Northern Saguache County Library District is in the middle of a process to determine what the community would like to see for the library. There are surveys at 5 locations, which will be picked up until August 6. At that time, the results will be tallied and the Library District will determine what the next steps are, whether that is renovating an existing building, working through the steps of a capital campaign, or keeping the library where it is—if that is the expressed wish of the community. This decision will not be made without the input of the community.

Additionally, the entire portion of property taxes the Library District receives is used for day-to-day operations of the two district libraries, with none left over to pay rent on a large space. If the surveys indicate that the majority of the community wants the Baca Grande Library to move to a location in town, then the District will need to determine two items: first, where the money will come from to rent or purchase a new facility (perhaps if 100 people pledge $25 per month to the library indefinitely!); and second, what the best location is to meet our needs. The former Curt’s store location will likely be considered when we get to this point in the process, but we are not there yet.

We are at the very beginning of this process.  Please allow us to move forward in a fiscally responsible way, which will ensure the Baca Grande Library serves you well into the future.


Sarah Koehn Frey, Director

Northern Saguache County

Library District


We cannot live without water

Dear Mr. Tigan,

Thank you for receiving comments about this crucial issue.

The San Luis Valley is a very special place.  Each of us is blessed to live here where there is clean air, ample water, and a sane pace of life.  I believe fracking anywhere in the valley would change everything.  My greatest concern is the risk to the quality of our water.  We all know that extremely toxic chemicals are used in the fracking process and that the water which is used becomes irreclaimable.

My second greatest concern is the amount of water which is consumed in the fracking process.  My understanding is that between 2 and 8 million gallons of water are used per day per well.  This is simply unacceptable.  In an area which already receives minimal rainfall, we cannot afford to use—and lose!—that much water.  When we run out of water—especially potable, pure water – we are all doomed.  We absolutely cannot live without water.

There are other reasons why I think fracking is extremely unwise, but frankly the only reason that truly counts is that we cannot afford to both irredeemably pollute the water we have and simultaneously consume such massive amounts of it.  Our grandchildren will be left with no water to drink.  We absolutely cannot afford this risk.

We need clean water.  That’s the bottom line.  We cannot afford to jeopardize our water supply.

Thank you for hearing me.  I beg you all to be wise.  We need water more than we will ever need oil.  We cannot live without water.

Most sincerely,

Cynthia Greb


Practice being magic

Richard Deyo is a poet and a brilliant, radical nonconformist I knew 20 years ago in Santa Fe. A tall, powerful man, he lived year-round in a tent, didn’t own a car and always wore a dress, for comfort, he said. (His preference would have been no clothes.) He walked everywhere, including the 60-some uphill miles to Los Alamos to protest the national laboratory’s activities. Years earlier, after studying math and science at Iowa State University, he walked from Iowa to the East Coast and then across Europe on the “Great Walk to Moscow” for world peace.

In Santa Fe Richard was known for free recitations of his poetry, which he wrote in calligraphy on large sheets of good quality salvaged paper, rolled up like scrolls. When asked “why” about anything, he would smile and say, “Sometimes there are more reasons for things than there are stars.” Recently I found an online article on him, published in the Iowa State University student newspaper in February. Now in his late-50s, he’s living in Ames, Iowa and is known there for wearing a red skirt and Santa jacket, opening city hall doors for people and offering free hugs. This poem of his is one of my favorites. He gave it to me on a scroll untitled, but it could be called “Practice.”

Gussie Fauntleroy


Untitled (“Practice”)

by Richard Deyo


Practice being trees for a while.

It’ll do you good

to plant roots, spread limbs,

grow leaves and fruit or nuts

we squirrels nibble on.


Practice being rivers for a while.

It’ll do you good

to roll, rinse the ground,

stumble between rocks and pebbles

we bubbles float on.


Practice being clouds for a while.

It’ll do you good

to crown the sky, blow thunderstorms,

hail, snow, winds

we sunbeams dance on.


Practice being magic for a while.

It’ll do you good.


Commentary:  Closed Basin Project & delayed water administration

by Peggy Godfrey, Moffat rancher

Since comments on the San Luis Valley BLM’s Blanca Wetlands expansion are available to the public, I present my comments here:

I would love to see natural wetlands restored to northern Saguache County and the eastern side of the valley (Saguache and Alamosa counties), an area which includes the Blanca Wetlands.  All of this area historically had interspersed playas and intermittent marsh habitats.  Satellite data has shown a drying trend since l985 in this area, as does testimony of owners and managers of private, state and federal lands.

Designation of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the purchase of a 100,000 acre private ranch with some of the north valley’s oldest and best water rights, now known as the Baca Wildlife Refuge (USFWS), was touted as the best solution to save the valley’s water from development and export.   Underneath this conversation has been a different agency of the Department of Interior—the Bureau of Reclamation’s pumping project.  Since the late l980s over 550,000 acre feet have been pumped and flushed to the Rio Grande from the San Luis Creek watershed which once contained wetlands as an expression of its natural hydrology and history.  More recently, most of the pumped and exported water has come from the aquifer underlying the Baca Wildlife Refuge and north valley ranchlands.  With the project intercepting and flushing these good waters  down a lined canal, project wells as well as farm and domestic wells further south in the valley’s “sump area” have water quality and quantity issues.  The project is required to divert mitigation water to both Blanca Wetlands and the Alamosa Wildlife Refuge, though this water does not have to meet the same standards as that introduced to the Rio Grande.  Mitigation waters are permitted to exceed maximum contaminant levels.  Twenty-five years of mitigation applications have likely created toxic concentrations of soluble salts as these waters evaporated, and the aquifer may also be affected.

The Closed Basin Project was conceived to “salvage” waters inundating the eastern side of the valley north of the Rio Grande in the early l900s when flood irrigation and canal diversions provided the excess.  By the l970s, when project legislation passed and the l980s when federal funding came through, excess waters were no longer a problem with pivot sprinklers proliferating and pumping groundwater.  But the Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD), which had been created in the late l960s, lobbied for legislation and funds to proceed with the archaic plan and since the late l980s have continued to pump our drought-stricken watershed.

RGWCD attorney David Robbins says that right or wrong, good or bad, the court ruled (1985) in favor of the federal project (prior to the first gallon of water being pumped), and we’ll pump til that ruling is overthrown in court.  Of course he doesn’t live here.   All the pumping limitations set forth in the legislation have been reinterpreted to justify the degradation of aquifer levels and ecosystems dependent on it.  Former wetlands are now occupied by ground-burrowing rodents, ant colonies, and noxious weeds.

The agencies of the state of Colorado have, over the past decades, in the San Luis Valley, worshiped at the shrine of the pivot sprinkler, sacrificing the treasure of healthy watersheds, aquifers, wetlands and wildlife habitat by issuing an excess of well permits and failing to manage groundwater pumping, resulting in an extreme decline of aquifers and flowing streams.  Landscape conservation values have been sidelined to preserve an “economy” based on the overuse and poor stewardship of a limited resource.

Until the state of Colorado owns its responsibilities with action instead of a litany of intentions, there’s very little any of us—even conservation-minded federal agencies and projects—can do to change the desertification and desecration of this beautiful sanctuary.

Currently a 100-million-dollar Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Program (CREP) has been authorized to retire groundwater pumping for fifteen years on agricultural lands adjacent to wells being pumped by the Bureau of Reclamation’s Closed Basin Project.  Taxpayers fund these opposing goals.  The CREP program has a system of accountability; the federal pumping project appears to lack ethical oversight.

If the BLM and Dept. of the Interior really want to see wetland restoration, terminate the very expensive ecosystem devastation being perpetrated by the Closed Basin Project.   Contact Mike King, director of Colorado’s Dept. of Natural Resources and suggest that he end decades of delayed water administration in the San Luis Valley by motivating the state engineer to implement rules and regulations based on Colorado’s doctrine of prior appropriation.  Then pray for rain and snow.  Federal dollars won’t create water.

Commentary:  Our POA ~ Part II

From the inside looking out—potential futures

by Lonnie Nichols

(Note: this is the second of a two-part series on the perspectives of the current situation and future possibilities of our Baca Grande Property Owners Association by Lonnie Nichols. After a brief tenure as Community Manager, Lonnie offers his insights from the inside looking out—a much needed perspective on the Baca Grande Property Owners Association [POA] and the management team.)

First of all I’d like to say “thank you” for all of the positive and encouraging emails and editorials I received as a result of Part I of this article (June 2013 issue). I was pleasantly surprised that so many read it and received some sense of clarity, or at a minimum, some information that was not previously at your disposal. Before I go into some potentials that lie ahead of us as a community, I just want to say that I do not consider myself clairvoyant, nor much of a fortune teller. I often sense intuitive insights, like many others, and have a “sense” of a beautiful potential, a picturesque vision of our Crestone community.

As I implied throughout Part I, there are a few obstacles that seem to be hindering this “group expansion,” but I believe “one with God is a majority” and that as individuals and as a group, we only limit ourselves as to what is possible. In the end, engaging at any level of our being toward a positive, harmonious outcome is important. Negative and destructive discussions—in this case, the POA—only fuels disharmony and the ever-present false reality of what is. Here are some thoughts. The reality of any “future” can be based only on probability and possibility. Here are just a couple:

1. Do nothing.  This not a bad or wrong action. I totally understand why folks do not engage at any level with our POA. Most of us move to the Crestone for peace and the glory of the mountain views. Who wants to move here and engage in conflict? We all have free will, and choosing to do nothing is a clear choice—I know, that was my choice for many years.

What will happen? Who can really say? Most likely things will stay the same, with some minor adjustments here and there. A minority of people could possibly manipulate the board’s actions and agendas. And manipulation takes many forms, one being the continual changing of agenda items, the continual mis-directing and scattering of  the key issues, long, fruitless discussions, etc. However, the situation could, by natural evolution and the “osmosis-effect” of more light beings, improve magically. But, if one is to make a comment or form an opinion about the POA without inserting himself or herself into some activity there, that mindset would not be based on facts—it would be based on the continual rumor mill, enhanced by past events and personalities who have been involved there. Additional negative fueling is ever-present as a result of a few people who make it personal and make a clear choice to continually energize negative energy. By doing nothing, then one is not even aware of the inner workings and dynamics, and has little right to even have an opinion . . . ironically, in my opinion. Clarity and fact-finding are the keys. Doing nothing will most probably not usher in any change, and has the potential of holding space for negative influences.

2. Engage in POA activities. To engage at any level takes a little time and effort, but engaging will almost instantly get one informed. There’s much to know about the past and the present events and often “dramas” there. Nearly all of the agenda items at each meeting need close attention; some need attention quickly as they affect the entire community, while some need more discussion with input from the community. I suggest that if someone wants to get an agenda item on the table, or simply wants a talking point brought to the board, then befriend a board member . . . discuss your issue at length with him or her . . . let them bring it to the board meeting. And, whether anyone likes it or not, the by-laws clearly state that the board votes on issues, with the majority of the board’s vote ultimately making the decision.

It’s clear to me that, regardless of the state statutes or the POA’s by-laws, there’s a strong minority who do not get that the majority rules.  It’s as if “anarchy” should be the rule—a clear “oxy-moronic” posture to take, since many in this minority desire some kind of control themselves. Each and every municipality and organization has rules and laws to follow, from the ancient, indigenous cultures, to the modern world we live in. The board was elected by the community, and they should be respected. Additionally, everyone should make an honest attempt to support the vote of the board majority.

The other option is to get a majority of the property owners to change the by-laws, which is difficult, but can be done.  In my short tenure there it was obvious that the minority I mentioned in Part I fights and disagrees with every vote, as if there were some kind of conspiracy going on. That was one huge eye-opener for me, looking from the inside out, and getting so many disgruntling and toxic emails that grossly missed the target. I had heard many things about some of the board members and their agendas, only to find out that most of what I had heard was simply not true, and in some cases what I heard prior to becoming manager turned out to be the exact opposite once I experienced the work environment first hand.

Often, in my personal attempts as a manager to provide information or initiate a new project, the minority of the board blocked me at each and every stage. I admit, some of that was my experience as a project manager (of projects) not necessarily aligning with the job description of a POA manager. But a large part of the conflict was an attitude of “we don’t want progress or success here.” The reader will have to trust me on that one.

I have drifted from the topic. If more folks engaged in the board meetings, as grueling as that may be, at least more could see who was for positive change and who was not. As a result more people could be more informed as to who to vote for, and who has the majority of the membership in mind when they take action.  And, since I’m a big believer in “energy follows thought,” simply engaging with an open and clear mind will help balance the energy of the POA, bringing that clear energy to the entire organization. I see too many judgments and assumptions made and projected onto the POA. Once on the inside, I witnessed the great fallacy in that approach.

Engaging even from the heart or mind in a positive way, being appreciative of the hard work of  the employees, and respecting the fact that the Board works many hours on their own time, can usher in a positive change and environment to the POA. There is no pay for the board. There is very little reward at times, and indeed it can be a thankless job. With the amazing intelligence and wisdom of many in this community, just creating a positive and supportive attitude toward our POA can do wonders, in my humble opinion. That shift can usher in the probability of a grand outcome. Negative thought does nothing but prevent the natural evolution of anything of any good. Positive energy supports a more holistic, creative potential for us all. Thought and feeling are everything when it comes to what is possible. The possibilities in this upward direction are infinite, and I am personally committing to holding the highest vision for our community, our POA. I would invite all of you to do the same, whether you personally engage or not.

3. Fire District. This seems to be the “hot” button for many. I can’t speak to all of the details of the historical development of this conflict, but I can say for sure that very few, if any, POAs or HOAs in the entire state incorporate a fire and emergency department. As a manager who has worked with fire and police departments for many years in the public safety radio world, I can say that I did not feel qualified to oversee a fire or emergency department. What POA manager would? The sad part about the possibility of a fire district is that those strongly opposing it have made it so excruciatingly personal. Beyond my wildest imagination, the personality conflicts appear to be “driving” the positioning of whether or not there should be a separate fire district. This fixed posturing simply muddies up the water. Objectivity for the “betterment of the community” in action and thought should be the perspective and vantage point, not what someone said 10 years ago, nor what someone fears. There’s quite a lot of mini-control dramas around the fire district issue. I strongly suggest everyone involved stand back and look at what is best for the area, the Town of Crestone, and what is best for the POA. A POA does not seem to embrace the correct political infrastructure to support these emergency services.

A note on assumptions. If a person stood outside a delivery room, never experiencing a child birth, he or she could easily assume that those in the room were harming, injuring, or even murdering the screaming lady. Then when all was quiet, the worst could be extrapolated from that assumption. However, if one were inside the room, it would become clear that a beautiful birth had taken place . . .  a new life entered the world . . . the birthing of a new spirit.

In closing, I would say respect the employees at the POA, respect the manager,  and of course respect (at a minimum) your elected board members—agree or not with them individually, they are nevertheless donating their services to your community, and they were lawfully elected. Minimize the harmful gossip that serves no one at any level. I personally envision a community of dynamic peace, the love of community and diversity, and the honoring all choices and freedoms within the law that nurture peace and respect.

Thank You.