Sunday, March 29, 2015

Forest treatments recommended: Upper Monument Creek restoration initiative builds on Roundtable suggestions



The Upper Monument Creek (UMC) landscape, which has experienced increasingly severe and costly impacts from wildfire, including the record-setting 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire that burned across the landscape’s southern boundary, will be treated over the next seven to 10 years using a combination of mechanical, manual and prescribed fire methods on approximately 18,000 acres.
The UMC Landscape Restoration Initiative was launched in 2012 to accelerate the pace of urgently needed forest restoration and build on the work of the Front Range Roundtable. That group has been working since 2004 to dramatically reduce wildfire risks to communities and restore resilient ecological conditions in Front Range forests. The Collaborative Report associated with the initiative recommends the following specific strategies and forest officials say they are proceeding accordingly.

Things to know about forest treatments:

1. The greatest benefit will be accrued through a combination of mechanical thinning, manual hand thinning and prescribed fire. Each tool produces benefits, but a combined treatment approach is most effective.

2. Over the next ten years, these treatments will consist of approximately 6,000 acres in mechanical thinning, 6,000 acres in manual hand thinning, 3,000 acres of site preparation and 3,000 acres of prescribed fire.

3. The majority of treatments will be focused in the landscape’s three primary forest systems: ponderosa pine, dry mixed-conifer, and mesic mixed-conifer.

4. Treatments emphasize the creation of more open canopy conditions, and on retaining and fostering the underrepresented older age trees.

5. The ponderosa pine-Douglas fir system should receive the most thinning treatment, followed by the dry mixed-conifer system with recommended thinning treatment at approximately 5,900 and 4,300 acres respectively. Acres requiring prescribed fire are distributed across the three major forest systems.

6. Treatment is also expected in the smaller lodgepole pine and Gambel oak systems, primarily for the purposes of wildfire risk reduction and/or preparation for prescribed fire in adjacent ponderosa pine-Douglas fir, or dry mixed conifer systems.

7. Total cost of treatment for the proposed management scenario will be approximately $10 million over the next ten years.



The Upper Monument Creek Landscape Restoration Initiative Collaborative Participants:

• Rob Addington, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute
• Greg Aplet, The Wilderness Society
• Mike Babler, The Nature Conservancy
• Mike Battaglia, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station
• Ed Biery, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Peter Brown, Rocky Mountain Tree Ring Research
• Jonathan Bruno, Coalition for the Upper South Platte
• Tony Cheng, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute
• Casey Cooley, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
• Yvette Dickinson, Colorado State University
• Missy Davis, The Nature Conservancy
• John Dow, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Carol Ekarius, Coalition for the Upper South Platte
• Jonas Feinstein, Natural Resources Conservation Service
• Allan Hahn, USFS Pike’s Peak Ranger District
• Eric Howell, Colorado Springs Utilities
• Chad Julian, Boulder County
• Jan Koenig, The Nature Conservancy
• Paige Lewis, The Nature Conservancy
• Larry Long, Colorado State Forest Service
• Sara Mayben, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Pam Motley, West Range Reclamation, LLC
• Aaron Ortega, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Felix Quesada, USFS Pike’s Peak Ranger District
• Steve Sanchez, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Andy Schlosberg, Colorado State Forest Service
• Diane Strohm, U.S. Air Force Academy
• Jeff Underhill, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Eric Zanotto, USFS Pike’s Peak Ranger District


Sunday, March 22, 2015

'Third-World conditions right here in our own country'




To be useful, honorable and compassionate.
Seems like it all started as when the pastor talked to him. Doug McKenzie describes it this way.
"Pastor Ellen (Fenter) had contacted me about going to an Indian reservation in South Dakota to help take some donations from the church's storage. I decided to go ahead and make the trip with Carl (Fenter, the pastor's husband). On Monday morning, I met Carl at the church to load up the donations and make the long drive to South Dakota. While loading the donations, that seemed to be not in that great of shape and nobody helping load the trailer, I may have started out the trip on a bit of a negative side. The drive not bad, but when we got to the reservation and the people started gathering around the truck, very happy to see us. As we opened the trailer, there were enough young men to unload everything. Old women came up and gave us hugs, thanking me for everything; the little children were running around playing with their new toys. Experiences the happiness in all those faces, and it just did not seem like we did all that much."
Doug McKenzie and others made additional trips.
A flyer that they put together for one the trips asks:
"Please help. South Dakota Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations. We are in need of donations for an auxiliary heat source. Last winter too many were lost from freezing to death! We are trying to give 300 or more heaters to the ones that are in the most need.
With discounted pricing from the local Big R store, the group was able to gather enough for 238 new heaters at $16 each, for one of their trips. On another trip, 100 fans made their way to reservation families because of the groups efforts.
McKenzie is concerned that still is not enough help, and plans to do everything he can.
"We can't turn our head and pretend the problems are not there. It is Third World conditions right here in our own country. Unless we start helping out, they will start disappearing. Diabetes, cancer, other health problems like Arthritis, are rampant. I do have a heart."
No one really questions that.
McKenzie and other continued to make the long trips — and plan for more.
He and Tom Del Porto are trained as electricians and have the idea that could put together enough people to help out with building trade experience to perhaps build chicken coops and green houses and such on the reservations. Maybe minor repairs on homes and such.
McKenzie, who himself suffers from Diabetes, knows the importance of providing healthy food items, and with the help of his wife Angie, working at the King Soopers on Baptist Road, the store provides discounted items to put together significant food boxes for families.
From that introduction, "This trip weighed heavy on my mind, so over the last couple of weeks I have been talking with Serena King to see what I could do to help. Now I am asking for your help and support to make this commitment to the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I believe there is an urgent need," McKenzie wrote in a recent appeal.
McKenzie, from a Kentucky coal mining family, with Shawnee roots, thinks the best thing to ask is:
"What else can we do."
He has made five trips in the last year bringing hundreds of needed fans, heaters and food boxes, as well as other items. He plans on continuing the mission.
Those interested may contact, or donate at The Church at Woodmoor, reference Native Americans, 18125, Monument, Co, 80132. Phone 719-488-3200.





Adult and senior day care provides respite for caregivers



Suddenly, it is all just too hard. A person needs a break.
"The most important thing is that the caregivers are healthy. It is a 24-hour-a-day job," says Sonja Search of Lifting Spirits, Adult and Senior Day Care Center, of Palmer Lake.
Search describes the business as providing quality day services and companionship for adults and senior in a safe and comfortable setting. "We assist families by providing services needed to keep loved ones living at home while maximizing their independence and personal dignity."
Search began working with seniors in 2009 after being trained as a Certified Nurse Assistant.
"Years ago my father became chronically ill and my mother became his primary caretaker. Not unusual for a spouse, but I saw how the constant 24/7 responsibility tired her. I thought how different here experience could have been if she just had a few hours of respite for herself," she said of her reason for founding the business.
"It is the caregiver, as well as the patient, who needs a break. Having a cup of coffee with a friend, going shopping or just taking a few minutes to relax. These are necessities, not luxuries. But without a safe, clean, caring environment for your loved one, the necessities are difficult to accomplish."
Making the business prosper has not been easy however.
"I need to create a steady flow of clients," Search says, and like many businesses trying to get the word out, there has been some confusion about what services are offered.
"With my name Lifting Spirits, maybe they think I am a liquor store or a pot shop," she says.
She is inspected by the state of Colorado, Department of Health certified, and Qualified Medication Administration Personnel (QMAP) and can accommodate as many as eight clients, (without adding staff) with a private pay rate of $10 per hour.
"I don't know what I would do without her," says Stella Nicholson, who sometimes employs Lifting Spirits for care her husband Lloyd. "One of the main things seems to be the isolation. I felt almost ashamed, as I was seeing Lloyd lose pieces of himself. The important message is, you should not be ashamed, and you need to reach out and tell people that. I don't want to be shut off, and I want others to know about it, and use our resources."
Gary Coleman, and his son Travis frequent stop in at Lifting Spirits because his son enjoys the interaction and playing games there. "I didn't know her, but was looking for a place to set up our train," Gary says. "It's a nice place, and everyone is well-accepted. I was surprised to find out how she takes care of seniors and thought, Wow, what a cool idea."
The Colemans set up their 'N'-gauge Polar Express train there around Christmas time.
"She recognizes each person as unique. I am impressed with the operation and care," says Gary Coleman.

###

Photo 1:
Travis Coleman, Sonja Search, Joe Brockett and Letty Clark playing a variation of poker to keep sharp Friday at Lifting Spirits Adult and Senior Day Care Center in Palmer Lake.


Photo 2:
Letty Clark working on some knitting.


Photo 3:
Comforts of home at Lifting Spirits.


Photo 4:
Joe Brockett explains his answer in the midst of the game.




Sunday, March 15, 2015

Redundancy and other needless, no-longer-useful, and otherwise worthless skills



“Last month we had to sit through a presentation on eliminating redundancy, and it was a bunch of Power Point slides, plus a guy reading out what was on the slides, and then he gave us all hard copies. I don’t understand these things.”
― Max Barry, Company

Personally, I am always surprised by how much worthless information I have been able to collect in the last 50, or so, years. And skills that are no longer useful.
Because of years of practice at an early age, and countless hours holed-up in a dark room winding film around stainless-steel spools, I was once known as a master of the roll up.
Until about 1999 or so, the skill was valuable in the newspaper business. Mostly 35-millimeter strips of transparent plastic film, base-coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals, had to be rolled on the spools so that liquid chemicals could move freely between all surfaces, without marrying it together in clumps that destroyed the images.  The sizes and other characteristics of the silver halide crystals determined the sensitivity, contrast and resolution of the images.  The trick, of course, was to put just the right arc on the film by applying pressure on both outside edges simultaneously as it was rolled. 
Easier said, than done. 
The spools, once rolled and usually gathered in groups of four or eight, were then dropped, under the cover of night (even in the middle of the day), into stainless steel cylinders and shaken or agitated in a circular motion every few seconds for a precisely prescribed amount of time. 
With any luck at all, and after years of practice, the right chemistry, temperature and prescribed amount of time, you would hardly ever destroy an image by film marriage, too much or too little time, or bad chemistry and dark room conditions — except by light leakage.
Today, all my acquired skills, practice and expertise in this field, has been rendered virtually useless by digital photo technology.
In another acquisition of hard-won expertise and practiced development — while working in a retail hardware store that only had the mashed-button keys on an old-fashioned 19th-century cash register to signify the amount of a sale, I learned, with better-than-average aplomb, count-back protocol for making change.
A customer could come into the store, select and purchase a 10-inch flat bastard, priced $3.58. I would add four percent sales tax, total to $3.68, take his twenty-dollar bill and count back "$3.68 out of $20, $3.68 and two pennies is $3.70, nickel more is $3.75, and a quarter is $4, and $1 is $5, and $5 is $10, plus $10 is $20. 
Totally worthless now that the register (and register tape) tells you exactly what change to hand a customer.
One final particular adroitness for which I might boast, was the way I knew my way around the card catalogs at various libraries, back in the days when the small drawers full of index cards still existed.
The card catalog was a familiar sight to library users for generations, but it has been effectively replaced by online public access catalogs. Though the online catalog may still be called a "card catalog," and some libraries still have real card catalogs (small drawers) on site, the old dinosaur types are now completely a secondary resource and are seldom updated. Many of the libraries that have hung on to their physical card catalog, post signs advising the last year that the card catalog was updated. I saw one the other day that referred to the last update in 1993.
That was just about the same time I remember an aging reporter in a newsroom in which I worked in, ask another reporter (younger and more technically savvy) to "help them get on the Google."
I wonder if somehow, someday, somewhere, I will ever benefit from all this useless knowledge and expertise. If I do, I will not only tell you about it, but make some Power Point slides, and be sure you get the handouts.