A setback for dark sky in Colorado’s Wet Mountain Valley — The Mountain Town News

Photos by Allen Tian, The Colorado Independent, and courtesy of Dark Skies Inc of the Wet Mountain Valley.

From The Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

Dark week for star-gazers as Colorado county rejects limits on lights

Dark sky proponents in Colorado’s Custer County had hoped to become the first international dark-sky reserve in North America certified by the International Dark-Sky Association.

They were buoyed in their effort by the great success of dark-sky designations for Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, the two adjoining towns in the Wet Mountain Valley.

It didn’t happen, though. Idaho earned that distinction late last year for a broad swath of the state that includes the headwaters of the Salmon River as well as the land around Ketchum and Sun Valley.

But even being No. 2 may now be out of the question. Last week the local planning commission rejected a resolution to change the definition of light pollution.

Partly at issue has been the intensity of new energy efficient LED lights. With less energy, they produce more light, and more disruptive white light. Dark sky proponents in Custer County wanted to throttle down the color temperature to 3,000 Kelvin, a warmer and less intense light. A regular incandescent or Halogen light has a “color” of about 2,700 Kelvin. More industrial settings, such as the lights you often see on the sides of warehouses, use 5,000 Kelvin lights or even stronger.

John Barentine, director of conservation for the International Dark-Sky Association, says removing all reference to light pollution in the county ordinances, as county commissioners want, “would be a significant step backward.”

Barentine tells Mountain Town News that he’s dubious the Wet Mountain Valley will achieve designation as a dark-sky preserve. “It would be a very uphill effort, if not outright impossible,” he said by e-mail.

For Idaho to achieve the designation, it took amended regulations in three counties as well as towns.

The Wet Mountain Tribune reported a packed courtroom for the meeting. In persuading the planning commissioners, opponents warned of government over-reach. “We don’t need the strong arm of government,” said one individual, who instead advocated voluntary compliance. Opponents of the limitations on light-pollution also fretted about fines imposed and possible jail time meted out to offenders.

Jim Bradburn, president of the Dark Skies, Inc. of the Wet Mountain Valley, said he and other proponents will continue to make their case. The valley’s ranchers opposed the proposed restriction on high-intensity lights. He says that as American’s shift their diets away from beef, the valley will need economic development strategies. The dark sky is an asset that can be used to draw overnight visitors from Denver, three hours away, and from Colorado Springs, about 90 miles away.

“They all love dark skies, but when you ask them how are they going to preserve it, nobody seems to have an answer,” says Bradburn of the rural property owners. “The voluntary thing is great, but we have been doing voluntary now for 10 years, and the lights keep showing up. … It’s not working,” he tells Mountain Town News.

Located along the Sangre de Cristo Range in south-central Colorado, Custer County has often had fractious political fights. In November, two of the three county commissioners were recalled.

R.I.P. John Perry Barlow, Internet Pioneer, 1947-2018

Photo credit: LiveMint

Barlow was one of my heroes from back in the day when folks using the Internet overcame the monopoly power centered in Redmond, Washington. The Electronic Freedom Foundation served to get the word out about the importance of keeping the Internet free of commercial control.

Here’s the EFF obit (Cindy Cohn):

With a broken heart I have to announce that EFF’s founder, visionary, and our ongoing inspiration, John Perry Barlow, passed away quietly in his sleep this morning. We will miss Barlow and his wisdom for decades to come, and he will always be an integral part of EFF.

It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow’s vision and leadership. He always saw the Internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance.

Barlow was sometimes held up as a straw man for a kind of naive techno-utopianism that believed that the Internet could solve all of humanity’s problems without causing any more. As someone who spent the past 27 years working with him at EFF, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good. He made a conscious decision to focus on the latter: “I knew it’s also true that a good way to invent the future is to predict it. So I predicted Utopia, hoping to give Liberty a running start before the laws of Moore and Metcalfe delivered up what Ed Snowden now correctly calls ‘turn-key totalitarianism.’”

Barlow’s lasting legacy is that he devoted his life to making the Internet into “a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth . . . a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”

In the days and weeks to come, we will be talking and writing more about what an extraordinary role Barlow played for the Internet and the world. And as always, we will continue the work to fulfill his dream.

Below is JPB’s “A list of 25 Principles of Adult Behavior” posted by Jason Kottke, Feb 08, 2018:

Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow died last night at the age of 70. When he was 30, the EFF founder (and sometime Grateful Dead lyricist) drew up a list of what he called Principles of Adult Behavior. They are:

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.

Here’s what these principles meant to Barlow: “I don’t expect the perfect attainment of these principles. However, I post them as a standard for my conduct as an adult. Should any of my friends or colleagues catch me violating one of them, bust me.”

Cassidy lyrics by John Perry Barlow

[Verse 1]
I have seen where the wolf has slept by the
Silver stream
I can tell by the mark he left you were in his
Dream
Ah, child of countless trees
Ah, child of boundless seas
What you are, what you’re meant to be
Speaks his name, though you were born to me
Born to me
Cassidy…

[Verse 2]
Lost now on the country miles in his cadillac
I can tell by the way you smile he’s rolling back
Come wash the nighttime clean
Come grow this scorched ground green
Blow the horn, tap the tambourine
Close the gap of the dark years in between
You and me
Cassidy…

[Verse 3]
Quick beats in an icy heart
Catch-colt draws a coffin cart
There he goes now, here she starts:
Hear her cry
Flight of the seabirds, scattered like lost words
Wheel to the storm and fly

[Verse 4]
Faring thee well now
Let your life proceed by its own design
Nothing to tell now
Let the words be yours, I’m done with mine
(repeat verse)

8th Annual Conservation in the West Poll Finds Strong Support for Protecting Land and Water; Voters Reject National Monument Attacks

Here’s the release from the State of the Rockies Project (Colorado College):

Western voters say protected public lands are critical to state economies, oppose Trump administration efforts to eliminate land, water, and wildlife protections

Mountain West voters weighed in on the Trump administration’s priorities for managing the use and protection of public lands in a new Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll released [Thursday, January 25, 2017].

The poll, now in its eighth year, surveyed the views of voters in eight Mountain West states on some of the most pressing issues involving public lands and waters, including proposals to eliminate or alter national monuments.

Underpinning the importance Western voters place on protecting public lands, 93 percent of Westerners surveyed view the outdoor recreation economy as important for the economic future of their state. 81 percent view the presence of public lands and their state’s outdoor recreation lifestyle as an advantage in attracting good jobs and innovative companies. Western voters are more likely to identify as a conservationist today than two years ago, with significant increases in every Western state.

Overall, voter approval for President Donald Trump and his administration’s handling of issues related to land, water and wildlife sits at 38 percent, with 52 percent disapproving. The administration’s approval rating on the issue was below 50 percent in every state surveyed — ranging from 34 percent in Nevada and New Mexico to 47 percent in Utah — with the exception of Wyoming.

Asked where the Trump administration should place its emphasis between protection and development, 64 percent of respondents said they prefer protecting water, air and wildlife while providing opportunities to visit and recreate on national public lands. That is compared to 23 percent of respondents who said they prefer the administration prioritize domestic energy production by increasing the amount of national public lands available for responsible drilling and mining.

Westerners hold national monuments in especially high regard. Eighty-two percent described them as helping nearby economies, 86 percent as national treasures, 90 percent as important places to be conserved for future generations, 90 percent as places to learn about America’s history and heritage, and 95 percent as places they want their children to see someday. Twenty- four percent said national monuments hurt the local economy and 27 percent said they tie up too much land that could be put to other uses.

Majorities in every state—and 66 percent overall—view the recent Trump administration’s decision to remove existing protections and reduce the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monuments in Utah by 2 million acres as a bad idea. In Utah voters are divided on the national monument changes in their state, with a slightly higher percentage of voters (49 percent) saying President Trump’s action was a bad idea than those saying it was a good idea (46 percent).

A Trump administration decision to alter or eliminate additional national monuments would be unpopular with 69 percent of respondents across the Mountain West. Locally, 70 percent of Nevadans view changes to Gold Butte National Monument as a bad idea and 68 of New Mexicans think the same of changes two national monuments in their state, Organ Mountains- Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

“Over the eight-year history of the Conservation in the West Poll, a passion for the outdoors and strong support for American public lands have remained constant in the Mountain West,” said Dr. Walt Hecox, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Colorado College and founder of the State of the Rockies Project. “Nearly all of the people surveyed said they visited national public lands in the past year and plan to go to a national park in 2018. Public lands drive our economy and define our way of life. A leadership agenda that does not recognize that reality is going to be met with strong disapproval in the West.”

Specifically, several actions recently undertaken or currently under consideration by the Trump administration are unpopular with voters in the Mountain West:

  • 37 percent of respondents support [49 percent oppose] raising fees to enter some of the country’s largest national parks during peak season;
  • 32 percent of respondents support [50 percent oppose] privatizing the management of campgrounds, visitor centers and other services provided at national parks and other national public lands;
  • 29 percent of respondents support [59 percent oppose] expanding how much public land is available to private companies which pay for the ability to drill for oil and gas on public lands;
  • 26 percent of respondents support [60 percent oppose] expanding how much public land is available to private companies which pay for the ability to mine for uranium and other metals on public lands;
  • 18 percent of respondents support [70 percent oppose] allowing mining on public lands next to Grand Canyon National Park, a practice that is currently banned;
  • 27 percent of respondents support [64 percent oppose] changing current plans to protect habitat for threatened sage-grouse in Western states;
  • and, conversely, 75 percent of respondents support [15 percent oppose] requiring oil and gas producers who operate on public lands to use updated equipment and technology to prevent leaks of methane gas during the extraction process and reduce the need to burn off excess natural gas into the air – a regulation the Trump administration is seeking to overturn.
  • With the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show beginning this week in Denver, after the Outdoor Industry Association ended its 20-year partnership with Salt Lake City as a result of Utah politicians’ hostility toward land conservation and U.S. public lands, the impact of the Trump administration’s recent actions on local outdoor economies is top of mind for the outdoor recreation business community:

    “Protecting public lands is a bipartisan issue with constituents across the West agreeing that public lands and waters should remain open and accessible for all to enjoy,” said Travis Campbell, chairman of the board for the Outdoor Industry Association and President of Smartwool. “Unfortunately, the current administration’s actions are not lining up with voters’ desires. We need people from both sides of the aisle to express their dissatisfaction with their legislators and let their voices be heard.”

    The poll showed strong support for cleaner forms of energy in the Mountain West. Respondents in six of the eight states surveyed pointed to solar as the source of energy that best represents the future of energy in their state. Wind was the top choice in Montana and Wyoming, and the second-ranked choice in four other states.

    With record-low snowpack in parts of the West, the drought remained a top concern this year, as low levels of water in rivers and inadequate water supplies were identified as serious issues facing their state by 82 percent and 80 percent of respondents respectively. 78 percent of respondents prefer addressing the water shortage by using the current water supply more wisely through conservation, reduction and recycling rather than by diverting more waters from rivers in less populated places to communities where more people live. 75 percent of respondents in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Utah view the Colorado River as “at risk.”

    This is the eighth consecutive year Colorado College has gauged the public’s sentiment on public lands and conservation issues. Idaho was added to the survey for the first time this year. The 2018 Colorado College Conservation in the West survey is a bipartisan poll conducted by Republican pollster Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollster Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.

    The poll surveyed 400 registered voters in each of eight Western states (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT & WY) for a total 3,200-person sample. The survey was conducted in late December 2017 and early January 2018 and has a margin of error of ±2.65 percent nationwide and ±4.9 percent statewide. The full survey and individual state surveys are available on the State of the Rockies website.

    From Wyofile.com (Angus M. Thuermer Jr.):

    Eighty-two percent of Wyoming voters believe elected officials in Washington D.C. do not reflect their values, a poll released Thursday says.

    When it comes to elected officials in the state itself, 59 percent of respondents said local officials generally reflect voters’ beliefs.

    The 2018 Conservation in the West Poll randomly quizzed 400 Wyoming voters, 67 percent of whom were registered Republicans. The survey had a 4.9 percent error margin, was conducted for the eighth year in a row, and covered seven other Western states alongside Wyoming.

    Colorado College released the findings in its State of the Rockies Project at the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show in Denver where gear and clothing makers meet this week. The trade show is sponsored in part by the Outdoor Industry Association, which abandoned its traditional Salt Lake City venue this year because of Utah’s public-lands policies, seen as detrimental to the industry.

    Voters were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “Elected officials in Washington, D.C. generally reflect my values.” They responded to a similar question regarding elected officials in Wyoming.

    The Wyoming poll also found that more than three-quarters — 76 percent — of state voters would rather conserve water, recycle it or reduce use than divert water from rural to urban areas.

    The survey also found 55 percent of Equality-state voters back the state’s conservation plans for greater sage grouse. A minority of 38 percent would see Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke change those plans to allow more oil and gas production and other activities.

    Wyoming was the only state in which respondents said they approved of President Trump’s handling of issues related to land, water and wildlife. The 59 percent approval buttressed observations that Wyoming “tends to be a bit of an outlier,” pollster Dave Metz told an audience at the trade show during a live-streamed presentation. Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah also were polled in the survey that contacted 3,200 persons overall through cell and landline telephones.

    R.I.P. Ray Thomas

    Ray Thomas via the Daily Star.

    From Billboard:

    Ray Thomas, flautist and vocalist for British rock group The Moody Blues, has died at 76.

    His music label, Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red Records, says Thomas died suddenly Thursday at his home in Surrey, near London.

    No cause of death was given Sunday (Jan. 7), but Thomas disclosed in 2014 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

    Born in 1941, Thomas founded The Moody Blues in 1964 with fellow musicians including Mike Pinder and Denny Laine.

    The band soon swapped blues roots for a more orchestral sound that came to be called progressive rock. Thomas’s flute solo was a key ingredient on one of its biggest hits, “Nights in White Satin.”

    The band is due to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in April.

    Ray Thomas sings “For My Lady” at Red Rocks in 1992.