Showing posts with label Utah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Utah. Show all posts

November 12, 2019

Should I Throw Away this Water Bottle?


If you buy something from Backcountry.com,
you get a mountain goat sticker with your order. 
You may have seen these on gear like 
my water bottle, on car windows, etc.

If I had a retail company called "Mountain Sports, Inc.," and someone else made skis, let's say, under the trademark "Mountain High," could I sue them for infringing on my right to the word "Mountain"? Seems ridiculous, right?

Using that strategy, big Utah-based mail-order retailer Backcountry.com has been threatening dozens of smaller businesses and forcing them to change their names or be ground into the courtroom carpet.

"Backcountry Denim" got the letter threatening a lawsuit. So did the "Backcountry Babes" avalanche-safety clinic and the maker of the Marquette Backcountry Ski, among many others.

Not surprisingly, a lot of outdoor types who cherish those little gear companies have been angry with Backcountry.com, which while it was started by mountaineers, is now owned by TSG Consumer Partners. The "Boycott BackcountryDOTcom" Facebook group has more than 21,000 members.

Faced with the backlash, the company is backing down, kind-of sort-of, the Colorado Sun news service reports:
Backcountry.com CEO Jonathan Nielsen wrote in an open letter that the retailer’s attempts to protect its brand “were not consistent with our values.” Not everyone is buying it. . . .
Nielsen said the federal lawsuits filed this year against the nonprofit avalanche education provider Backcountry Babes, the one-employee Backcountry Denim Co., Utah’s Backcountry eBikes and Marquette Backcountry Ski were “a last resort” that followed attempts to resolve the trademark disputes “amicably and respectfully.”
So do I believe that corporate-speak, or do I peel their goat off my water bottle? Their website under "Our Values" lists "Take ownership." Yeah, like they own the word "Backcountry"?
David Ollila, who founded Marquette Backcountry Ski in 2010 and trademarked the name in 2013, laughed at the notion that the company’s initial petitions for cancellation of his trademark, filed through the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, were respectful. 

He points to emails the company’s trademark lawyers with the IPLA law firm sent to business owners like Boulder’s Jenny Verrochi, who was bullied into abandoning her registered trademark for Backcountry Nitro coffee and ended up rebranding her canned cold brew as Wild Barn Coffee.
The law firm that in charge of bullying smaller companies has been fired, but what could is that to people who had to spend money changing their trademarks and losing name recognition?

I would say, do your holiday outdoor-gear shopping elsewhere until we see how this shakes out.

April 15, 2019

Ed Abbey Talks about his Park Ranger Days at Arches

Author Ed Abbey talks about his park ranger days at Arches National Monument (now national park) in the 1950s, the experience that produced his landmark book Desert Solitaire, in this 1985 short documentary.

Me, I will never forget visiting Delicate Arch early one morning in 1990, trying to get ahead of the crowd, but then the crowd arrived, and someone said, "It looks just like the [Utah] license plate!"

From Ned Judge, producer and director: "An eight minute film essay that I co-produced and directed with Ed Abbey in 1985. At the time I was working for a network magazine show. The executive producer took me to lunch one day. He told me that he was having trouble with his son who was 18. The son thought his dad was a corporate whore. He had told his father if he had any balls at all he’d put Ed Abbey on his show. That’s why the EP was talking to me. Would I see if it was possible? I had an acquaintance who knew Ed and he passed the request along. Ed responded that he’d give it a try. He signed the contract and wrote a script. We met in Moab and went out to Arches National Park to shoot some practice sessions with a home video camera. We would review them at the motel in the evening. After a day or two, Ed was feeling pretty comfortable on camera so we scheduled the shoot. We were all happy with the way it went. But then we ran head-on into [NBC] network reality. Roger Mudd, the show’s host, was extremely negative about putting an “eco-terrorist” on the show. The executive producer had no choice but to cave. So this Abbey essay was put on the shelf and never aired. Abbey died 3 years later in March 1989."

Ned Judge's more recent work includes The Medicine in Marijuana, an examination of the claims made for medical marijuana.

I can't embed the video, so watch it here.

May 11, 2017

Just Don't Put It in Salt Lake City

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) wants to move the Bureau of Land Management national headquarters out of Washington, D.C., to somewhere in the West and has introduced legislation to that effect. Rep. Paul Tipton (R-Cortez), whose 3rd District includes some of southern Colorado and most of the Western Slope, has a similar measure in the House.

This makes sense in a way: most of the land managed by the BLM is west of the Mississippi or in Alaska. Modern communication techniques make centralization of federal functions in D.C. less crucial.

When I heard this proposal, I figured that Denver was the hypothetical location. But the Grand Junction Sentinel  is blowing the local horn (as a newspaper should):  "But the Republican from Colorado told The Daily Sentinel in an interview that he still thinks Grand Junction is well positioned to compete for the office if legislation he introduced this week becomes law."

He is not specifying Grand Junction, however, but you can expect that he is pulling for a Colorado location. Still, there a political realities:
Gardner has gotten what he called a “great group” of Senate bill sponsors from a number of Western states, with the sponsorship list growing. But he acknowledged that those senators may have an interest in seeing the headquarters moved to their home states. And he’s previously noted that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, of Montana, might want to see it moved there.

So if the measure passes, “this will be a bit of a — I think I’ve said it before — a bit of a Western food fight (to land the office). But I think Colorado comes up pretty good in this,” he said.
The BLM's Colorado state office is already located in Lakewood,  at a satellite location of the Denver Federal Center (an office complex that grew up post-World War Two on land that had held  a military munitions factory).

Speaking as a former BLM contractor and someone with an interest in public lands, I am all for moving the national office. Just don't put it in Utah. After the anti-public lands performance by Utah's governor and congressional delegation — so stinking disgraceful  that it has driven the outdoor industry's annual trade show out of SLC —that state frankly does not deserve it.

May 13, 2016

Nice Kitty! Hold Still Now!


I don't know the backstory — someone might have found the mountain lion in the trap and alerted Utah Wildlife. Two game wardens arrive to free the cat, and what happens next is a class in Catchpole 101, with a naturally very angry Puma concolor.

If you were wondering, you will find Utah trapping regs here. I wonder if this trap was indeed "marked or tagged with the trap registered number of the owner."

June 04, 2015

The Conspiracy to Take Away Public Lands

John Gale from Backcountry Hunters and Anglers speaks to a rally
at the Colorado State Capitol in February 2015 (Durango Herald).




There is a threat to public lands in the West, and the mainstream media are largely igoring it. Even HighCountry News is ignoring it, but then HCN more and more  focused on California — that must be where the big donors are).

Unlike the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion of the mid-1980s, this is stealthier.

State legislatures in places like Colorado and Montana are seeing bills introduced urging that public lands administered by the federal government — Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, maybe even National Parks Service — be turned over for the states for management.

Doing so would be “more efficient,” “closer to the people,” whatever. The states, of course, would not be able to take care of them.

Can you imagine Colorado footing the bill for a bad forest fire season? Even my state representative, Jim Wilson, R-Salida, who strikes anti-Washington poses (“Personally, I would like to see the Feds out of the picture”) admits it:
If the Federal government were to give the land to the state of Colorado, how would we be able to afford the management costs?  I doubt that the Federal government would give back to the Colorado all the public tax dollars that are spent annually on those lands.  Not to mention the PILT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) dollars that are used by Colorado counties to fund essential services as well as education.  And, to sell and/or develop the land to afford to manage the land is like eating your seed corn...not a sustainable practice!
But this stealth movement keeps puttering along.

You can imagine the scenarios if a state with a lot of public land, such as Utah, got ahold of it. Everything would be wide open — even more than now—to leasing for drilling and mining. Wildlife, water quality, etc., would not be be merely in the back seat; they would be clinging to the rear bumper of the development-mobile.

Since the state always is short of money (roads! schools! Medicaid!) the pressure would be on to start selling. The buyers would line up:

(a) energy companies
(b) mining companies
(c) rich people wanting huge ranches (doubling as private hunting grounds
(d) other land developers

So who is bankrolling this movement. My bet is (a).

There has been some media coverage, but it is isolated. No one is connecting Montana with Colorado, for example.

Some sample headlines:

Colorado Wildlife Federation's "Public Lands Update":
Throughout the 2015 legislative session of the Colorado General Assembly, CWF defended public lands managed by the US Forest Service and BLM from two bad bills: Senate Bills 15-039 (an attempt to confer concurrent state jurisdiction over federal lands) and 15-232 (to study how the state could manage these lands). Both bills were rejected. Colorado, as well as other western states where similar bills have been proposed, does not have the financial resources or personnel to take over management of a huge additional 23-million acre portfolio of public lands that are managed by BLM and US Forest Service. The likely outcome from such transfers would be sales of some of these irreplaceable lands to private interests.
 "[MontanaGovernor Steve] Bullock Vetoes Federal Land Task Force Bill
"A careful reading of the bill … reveals that the transfer of public lands is still very much in the sights of the task force,” Bullock’s veto letter says. “My position on this issue is crystal clear: I do not support any effort that jeopardizes or calls into question the future of our public lands heritage.”
If you backpack, hike, hunt, fish, look for mineral specimens, collect mushrooms, take photos, or do anything else on public lands, imagine losing that access. You would be no better off than a Texan.

September 19, 2013

What Kind of Water Year Was It?

Click to enlarge

Hydrologists measure "water years" from October through August, so this diagram shows the year that just ended.

September 14, 2013

Business Opportunity for Hermit Hotelier

Have you ever wanted to open a hotel or retreat center or something like that in the Back of Beyond? Here is your opportunity, which I saw as the California Zephyr whizzed through the thriving metropolis of Thompson Springs last week.

Unfortunately, the train doesn't stop there anymore.

July 23, 2013

Dying for Beauty

The Wave (Wikimedia Commons)
You have heard of the Darwin Awards. I propose the Everett Ruess Award.

Ruess was a young California artist who sought inspiration in the southern Utah canyonlands beginning in 1931, nearly dying of dehydration at least once, before he disappeared for good in 1934. "Beauty" was one of his favorite words.

Lately the fatal lure is a rock formation called the Wave. Three people have died this month hiking to and from it.
The Wave is a richly colored geological upheaval, its fiery swirls emblazoned on postcards, posters, maps and computer screensavers. It is said to be one of the most photographed spots in North America.
Ironically, you have to apply for a permit to hike there, it is so popular.
Half of the 20 daily permits are doled out on a walk-in basis at a visitor's center in Kanab, with up to 100 people showing up for each one. For many, it's a lifetime opportunity that can encourage risk-taking during the hottest time of the year.

July 08, 2013

Colorado and Utah Fought Wolf Protection Plan


(I missed this item last month, but got the link from Cat Urbigkit's Wolf Watch.)

Documents obtained show that Colorado and Utah state wildlife officials strongly opposed federal plans to declare gray wolves "endangered" (hence protected) in those states if and when the wolves showed up.
The documents suggest the animal's fate was decided through political bargaining between state and federal officials, said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

The nonprofit group obtained the records through a freedom of information lawsuit and provided them to The Associated Press.

"In simplest terms, these documents detail how the gray wolf lost a popularity contest among wildlife managers," Ruch said. . . . .
The administration's plan unveiled earlier this month [June 2013] would declare gray wolves are only endangered in a relatively small part of the Southwest inhabited by a few dozen Mexican wolves — a subspecies of the gray wolf.
To quote again from the US Fish and Wildlife service's news release, "The Service is also proposing to maintain protection and expand recovery efforts for the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in the Southwest, where it remains endangered"

And that was the area under contention, apparently.

Colorado does not have any wolves, officially, although isolated individuals have wandered down from Wyoming. (Pet wolves or wolf-dog hybrids have also been released, another issue.) I have heard tales of wild wolves roaming on the Western Slope as far back as the 1980s, before they were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park, but those tales remain just that. 

Why resist federal protection? The usual reasons: fear of reduced deer and elk herds, hence hunting-license revenue loss; fear of attacks on livestock, be that at traditional cattle ranches or New West-ish alpaca operations; fear of attacks on people.

June 10, 2013

Utah Target-Maker Tries to Educate Some Shooters

BLM graphic.
Can you say "cover your ass," boys and girls? Yes, I thought you could.

Action Targets, a Utah-based company, has put out a news release on "10 Ways to Prevent Wildfires While Targetshooting This Summer."

It is all sound advice, such as "don't shoot tracers in dry vegetation" and "don't shoot that old sofa that someone dumped up the gulch because it might smolder and catch fire." And "no Tannerite."

And it just might have something to do with the situation summarized last March at Wildfire Today:
According to Utah State Forester Dick Buehler, of the 1,528 fires in the state in 2012, 33 were caused by target shooting which cost over $16 million to suppress. In October, 2012 when we wrote about the increasing number of fires started by target shooters using exploding targets, we found 10 fires started by these devices in Utah over a 5-month period last year. One of them burned over 5,500 acres.
The BLM has some similar advice. I like the tarp idea.

The outdoor shooting range that I use has a no-tracers rule, and this is why.

Up at Fort Carson, however, they still seem to start at least one fire a year with tracers and/or pyrotechnics of some variety.

October 01, 2012

Blog Stew at the Hot Springs

Bathing at Pagosa Springs, Colorado. See third link below.
•  I did not know it at the time, but I spent most of my childhood in the "state of Absoroka," one of twelve proposed states that never formally existed. "Jefferson," the one in northern California-southern Oregon, came close to formation in 1941 and still lives on in the hearts of some.

•  Despite campaigns against it, fashion designers are returning to fur. Some are conflicted:
Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet, herself a vegan, wears fur and uses it in her collection. "It doesn't make sense," she once admitted. "Something about putting it inside me [sic] feels really barbaric. Something about wearing it just feels a little glamorous."

 • Peruse some photos taken 150 years ago in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico,  and Utah.

February 17, 2012

Going Feral in Utah

Another lone (?) "mountain man" on the loose.
But the man authorities say is armed and dangerous and responsible for more than two dozen burglaries has continued to outrun the law across a swath of mountains not far from Zion National Park. He's roamed across 1,000 square miles of rugged wilderness where snow can pile 10 feet deep in winter.

And while there have been no violent confrontations, detectives say he's a time bomb. Lately he has been leaving the cabins in disarray and riddled with bullets after defacing religious icons, and a recent note left behind in one cabin warned, "Get off my mountain."
There is a possible Mormon polygamist angle too. Of course.

UPDATE, Feb. 22, 2012: The authorities think that his name is Troy James Knapp, 44, who did time in prison and then disappeared.

November 26, 2011

Amtrak, Raccoons, and the California Zephyr

The California Zephyr climbs the Big 10 curve west of Denver
M. and I are home from a week-long trip to San Francisco -- mostly business for me, but she got to spend time with family.

We took the California Zephyr west from Denver, "mountains and rivers without end."

And we got where we needed to go, although there was one rough patch at the beginning.

As usual, click the photos to enlarge them.

You usually end up dining with strangers but can always talk about the trains.



We woke up at dawn in our Denver hotel, checked the Amtrak train-status page, and oh no, the westbound train was six hours behind schedule. Later we would learn that it had been held up waiting for work crews to repair some damaged track somewhere in Iowa or Nebraska.

So we went out to breakfast, read exotic magazines at the Tattered Cover's LoDo store, and eventually got a lift in the hotel's town car to the temporary station that Amtrak is using while Denver Union Station is being renovated.

In the photo, two guys who just met through the dining steward's command to "Sit there" are getting acquainted.

Passengers ("Pax" in train-speak) on the platform at Fraser, Colo.
The first "fresh air stop" after Denver is Fraser/Winter Park, immediately after you come out of the long darkness of the Moffat Tunnel through the Continental Divide.
The station in Glenwood Springs, Colo., right in the center of town.
After Fraser, the railroad follows a roadless area of the Fraser River Canyon, breaks out into Middle Park, and then enters roadless Gore Canyon, where the river is already freezing over in spots. It then passes a few isolated spots like Radium, State Bridge, and Bond, before rejoining I-70 at Dotsero and continuing on down Glenwood Canyon.

Western terminus of the Zephyr: Emeryville, Calif.
And a bus ride over the Bay Bridge, a taxi to the hotel, and we're there, only three hours late at the end.

We left Wednesday the 23rd for home. Everything started well: up through the across the Delta, up through the eucalyptus, cypresses, and palms of Roseville, then into the Sierras, with cedar, manazanita, firs, and other conifers.

Into Reno on time. Through basin and range -- Winnemucca in the late afternoon, Ely after dark, then salt flats and Salt Lake City. The "gray desert" around Green River, Utah. Into Grand Junction on time, and we saw a bald eagle sitting in a snag along the Colorado River somewhere between Dotsero and State Bridge.

Through Middle Park and the Moffat Tunnel, everything tickety-tock, running even a bit ahead of schedule.

Then Conductor Renée comes on the p.a. system: the westbound Zephyr hit a "herd of raccoons" in Iowa the previous evening, had to wait for a replacement locomotive, and has now limped into Denver many hours late. We must wait for it to clear the wye at the station before we in turn can back in. So we wait, somewhere in Arvada, and eventually arrive an hour behind schedule. No problem. 

But a "herd of raccoons"? Since when do coons come in herds, as opposed to small family groups? And how big a herd does it take to damage (air hoses, etc., she said) a full-size locomotive?

You know Amtrak does not put out news releases about such incidents, so it must remain a mystery of rail travel.

UPDATE: Here is a posting on a train-fan web site, which gives a location and speaks of a "pack of raccoons."

September 09, 2011

What the Flaming Gorge Pipeline Would Wreck

Durango writer Dave Petersen lays it out. The proposed pipeline to bring water from the Green River in Wyoming to Colorado's Front Range would be devastating to northeast Utah's fish and wildlife:

We are lucky to have a world-class fishery in our own extended backyard, on the Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Unfortunately, this great run of river is now threatened by a monumental boondoggle that could destroy one of the finest fishing destinations on the planet. Aaron Million's proposed water pipeline would stretch from Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming and Utah, some 560 miles to the massive population centers of Colorado's Front Range. After all, why should we worry about preserving what little is left in America of wild nature when water board members believe the river's flows would be better used to maintain wasteful blue-grass lawns, golf courses, swimming pools and car washes around the Denver area?

In addition to the obvious self-centeredness and amorality of Million's outrageous proposal, consider the construction cost, currently estimated by state agencies to run as high as $9 billion, with another $123 million per year, in perpetuity, required to operate and maintain the pipeline. Just what we need in a strapped economy! Nor would it be a bargain for Front Range residents, requiring farmers and homeowners to pay the highest fees ever for water.
Read the rest.

October 22, 2009

Skeleton Not Everett Ruess's After All

New tests show a skeleton found in the Utah desert is not that of artist Everett Ruess.

Last spring, I thought the mystery of his disappearance had been solved.

From an AP story:

Everett Ruess vanished in southern Utah in 1934, writing in a final letter to his family in California that "as to when I revisit civilization, it will not be soon" and "it is enough that I am surrounded with beauty."

He was 20 and a gifted poet who explored the Southwest over much of four years. In between journeys, he hobnobbed with famous artists of his time.

Initial DNA tests were termed "irrefutable" months ago by University of Colorado researchers, but one of them said Wednesday he accepted as final the new results from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, Md.

Utah's state archaeologist, Kevin Jones, had questioned the original results, prompting the family to seek a second opinion.

Jones said a recovered lower jawbone was characteristic of an American Indian's, not a man of European descent, and that worn teeth suggested a lifetime diet of coarse grains. It's not known whose remains were actually found.


But I still think he probably was murdered. He remains one of nature religion's saints, Blessed Everett the Martyr, patron of the Canyonlands.

June 12, 2009

On the Road: Price, Utah

As befits a coal-mining town, Price, Utah, has a statue in a park of a helmeted coal miner saying good-bye to his little son.

But its downtown area also features this Kokopelli as well. Any unborn children in that pack?

April 21, 2009

The Everett Ruess Mystery Solved?

Via Odious and Peculiar, I learned today of a National Geographic Adventure piece offering a solution for the 1934 disappearance of the young artist Edward Ruess somewhere in the canyonlands of southern Utah.

A "vagabond for beauty," to use the subtitle of Bill Rusho's biography of him, Ruess spent part of three years exploring and making art, often alone, until vanishing. Speculation abounded: Was he killed by cattle rustlers? (There were some in the area.) Did he fall off the slickrock? Did he marry a rural Mormon girl or a Navajo and vanish into obscurity? Or was he murdered not by rustlers but by someone else?

The medicine man told Nez that the only way he could cure his cancer would be to retrieve a lock of hair from the head of the young man he had buried decades earlier, then use it in a five-day curing ceremony. "I was 19," Johnson said. "I was home for the summer. That was the first time I ever heard anything about the young dude the Utes had killed down there in Chinle Wash."

You could compare him to Christopher McCandless, but somehow Ruess comes across as a more sympathetic character, less egotistical and erratic, leaving behind an impression of talent cut short. When a friend finished reading the Rusho book, he said, "Now I remember what it was like to be 20."

The illustration is one of his linoleum cuts.

May 17, 2008

Polygamy -- It's Everywhere!

The Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints are just up the road, apparently. Much excitement in the southern Colorado news media.

And in the Black Hills.

You could organize your summer vacation around these people: Start in Texas before it gets too hot, then hit Colorado City, Utah, on to Colorado (Mancos, Westcliffe) and the Black Hills, and finish at Bountiful, British Columbia.

Better hurry, though. The recent California court decision permitting same-sex marriage has some legal scholars saying, "Why not polygamy too?"

Sure, run human society like a herd of elk. It works for elk.

But young bull elk get a shot at dethroning the herd bull. Male teens from these polygamist colonies often end up homeless, panhandling on street corners.

February 01, 2007

Brad Pitt as Hayduke??

From the Better Late Than Never Dept.: The Goat reports that Ed Abbey's classic piece of enviro-fiction is finally being prepared for the silver screen.

A longer story ran in the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.

The real question will be whether [director Catherine] Hardwicke can resist the temptation to soften Abbey’s eccentric but steel-cored characters into mere lovable buffoons, and whether she’ll submerge his pro-environment/anti-development message in a bland sugar coating of comedy

(She also directed The Nativity Story.)

January 06, 2007

Goatheads are good for something?

Every gardening writer likes to write about reading seed catalogs as the midwinter snow falls.

So I won't do that. I will just mention that I was perusing the new Richter's catalog as ten inches of fresh powder--well, OK, it is more than a cliche. It happens.

"What the hell," I said. "They're selling goatheads!" Also called puncturevine. Tribulus terrestis. Nasty, invasive, spreading Eurasian weeds whose multi-pointed seed capsules can bring a dog to a whimpering standstill, not to mention being hard on bicycle inner tubes.

M.'s response was to pass me a copy of Tucson herbalist Charles W. Kane's Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest, which she had just brought home from the Pueblo library. (We may have to buy it.) She held it open to the section on puncturevine.

It turns out to be helpful for moderate hypertension, to increase male libido (herbal Viagra?), and to contain some natural steroids.

Many men using the plant often notice a related sense of increased physical strength and will -- a good tonic for older men and the metrosexual alike.

I consider Michael Moore (not the filmmaker) to be one of the best Southwestern herbalists.

He contributed the foreword, noting, "Charles has written an impeccable book."

Here is Kane's border-country spin on the usual herbalists' advice on wildcrafting--gathering plants in the wild:

Collect away from roadsides, inner city areas, industrial sites, agricultural areas, and heavily traveled foot trails -- explaining yourself to every busy-body hiker gets to be tiresome, although visibly packin' heat usually limits conversation to furtive glances.

Although a short drive takes us to eastern Fremont County, Colorado, which is sort of the last outlier of the Chihuahuan Desert, a lot of Kane's plants are hundreds of miles away. But about half of them are here.

Methods of preparation are clearly described, and the plants are illustrated with color photos and Frank Rose's meticulous botanical paintings.

If you live in the Southwest and you like to take care of some minor ills yourself or learn some herbal first aid, you should have it.