Dear Keep OURay Alpine Wild Supporter,
Reminder: Today, Thursday, September 22 at 5:00pm in the 4-H Center, the BOCC will make the final decision on high density residential building in the fragile alpine zone. We will, hopefully, see the outcome of all of our hard work. We are cautiously optimistic that the BOCC will vote to protect the high alpine zone and tundra ecosystem from high density residential building.
It is very important that everyone attend this deliberative phase of the hearing where the final decision will be made. Public testimony is closed but our presence will remind the County Commissioners of the passion that our community has for this issue.
Hope to see you tonight.
Roze Evans for Keep OURay Alpine WildK
Last week at the BOCC hearing on the high alpine building regulations, there were 100 people in attendance. Of the 46 people who spoke, 42 spoke in favor of either a 35 acre minimum parcel size(as per current zoning in the area) or advocated no building at all. Only 4 people were opposed to the proposed regulations. Thank you to everyone who testified! This was an inspiring display of democracy but, unfortunately, our work is not done.
The deliberative phase of the hearing, where decisions are actually made, has been continued until September 22, 5:00pm at the 4H Center.
The County Attorney’s legal opinion is that the regulations that we want are justifiable. However, the inevitable threat of legal action may temper the BOCCs willingness to honor the overwhelmingly expressed wishes of the community. Public testimony is closed, but, a huge show of support may help empower the BOCC to stand strong, knowing that the community has their back.
Please plan to attend the continued deliberation phase of the hearing on Thursday, September 22 at 5:00 at the 4H Center.
Water flows through a series of sediment retention ponds in August 2015 that were built to contain heavy metal and chemical contaminants from the Gold King Mine wastewater accident in Colorado. That site, and 47 others in southwest Colorado, were declared Superfund sites on Wednesday.
Thirteen months after an Environmental Protection Agency mistake sent millions of gallons of bright orange wastewater into a Colorado river, the agency has declared the Gold King Mine and 47 other locations in the region Superfund sites, Colorado Public Radio reports.
“The Environmental Protection Agency accidentally spilled 3 million gallons of orange wastewater when studying the mine in August 2015. Many mines in the area drain thousands of gallons of water laced with heavy metals every day. Clean-up in the area is highly complex, and expensive.”
Sites in California, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, New York, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas and West Virginia also were added to the Superfund list Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.
Officials told CPR that the cleanup will cost millions of dollars and take years or even decades.
The 2015 spill into the Animas River, which was laced with mercury and arsenic, had already cost the EPA $29 million for response and water-quality monitoring, CPR’s Grace Hood reported in August. That spill is ongoing, she noted — at the time sending 500 gallons of water a minute into the river.
The state of New Mexico, where the water wound up, “has enough unresolved questions that it filed suit against both the EPA and Colorado.” The Navajo Nation also has sued, the AP reports, and the state of Utah is likely to file as well.
The problem isn’t limited to these newly-declared Superfund sites, Hood reported:
“The country hasn’t made much progress on fixing abandoned mines across the West.
” ‘There are still tens of thousands of those throughout the country that still need attention,’ says Doug Young, a senior analyst at the Denver-based Keystone Center, which focuses on science and public policy.”
A UPI article
After nearly 15 years of investigation into the disapearance of US goverment material near Silverton Colorado …several of these articles were found in a small mountain comunity in the central Chilian Andes, tacked to the door of a rundown hut. Authorities still remain baffled. President and founder of the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies, Chris Laundry commented, ” We’ve exhausted every lead ..even as far as Gulmorg on the Kashmir-Pakistan border. These signs and their investigation has cost the American taxpayer dearly …which almost brought our project to its knees.” The US embassy in Santiago is looking into this matter and hasn’t ruled out bringing in the FBI.
Orange sediment laced with heavy metals is visible in the path of water coming out of the Natalie/Occidental Mine in southwestern Colorado. This mine is one of dozens on a proposed Superfund listing pending with the EPA. Several mines in the area have been leaching the tainted water for years — well before the Gold King Mine spill.
Grace Hood/Colorado Public Radio
One year ago — on Aug. 5, 2015 — an EPA crew at the Gold King Mine in southwest Colorado accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of orange water filled with mercury and arsenic.
The toxic spill flowed into the Animas River, eventually running into New Mexico’s San Juan River and into Lake Powell. So far, disaster response and water quality monitoring have cost the EPA about $29 million — and the problem isn’t over yet.
Water laced with heavy metals continues to gush out of the mine, says Joyel Dhieux of the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s why the EPA built a water treatment plant here last fall, at the cost of $1.5 million.
Contaminated wastewater is seen at the entrance to the Gold King Mine in San Juan County, Colo., in this picture released by the Environmental Protection Agency. The photo was taken Wednesday; the plume of contaminated water has continued to work its way downstream.
“Five hundred gallons a minute is what we’re currently seeing coming from the Gold King Mine,” Dhieux says. “It’s a bit of an increase, as you might expect with all the spring melt in the area.”
Five hundred gallons a minute is a lot. But Dhieux says this is only one of several abandoned mines in the area.
Some have been discharging the same kind of water for decades. And the water from those mines is not running through a treatment plant.
Joyel Dhieux, EPA on-scene coordinator, looks at an old water treatment plant that stopped operating near the base of the Gold King Mine in the early 2000s. The EPA built its own temporary plant in October 2015 after the Gold King Mine spill.
Grace Hood/Colorado Public Radio
In fact, this problem is at the heart of why the EPA was at the Gold King Mine last summer. And it’s what prompted the local government here to apply for a Superfund listing this spring.
“There was a lot of sleepless nights,” says Willy Tookey, administrator for San Juan County.
For more than a decade, the government here shied away from Superfund status. The two biggest concerns? It would cause a drop in property values and a drop in tourism.
But Tookey says intense negotiations with the EPA over this past year led to new confidence and assurances.
Please attend a meeting about creating a Ouray County community trust on May 4 at Ridgway Community Center
email from Tim Lane to Mike Friedman and Rōbert this morning, 2/25/16.. Hola …Watched Tim’s Lane today (in Chile)… laughed a lot …don’t think I ever skied that shot …all the best, Tim
email response from Mike Friedman… There’s a line in the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend”.
email from Rōbert… So it goes… “I know it’s true, even if it didn’t happen.” Mark Twain
Mr. Lane was assisted in his weekly recycling efforts by Fred, Silverton’s ‘Dump Monk’
This was the Saint Germain Foundation’s lodge and religious retreat, a former ski lodge, before it burned in January 1952. The group’s religious beliefs were upheld in a major U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1944, two years after the organization had bought the lodge.
ANDREW GULLIFORD/Special to the Herald
The lodge burned in January 1952, and that fall members of the “I AM” religious group built a garage on the site. The garage still stands immediately adjacent to U.S. Highway 550. Leigh Ann Hunt, forest archaeologist for the Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forest, says, “The Saint Germain group came planning to do big things and then it never materialized. The lake and garage are now landmarks in Ironton and they will be managed to preserve them.”
ANDREW GULLIFORD/Special to the Herald
A water tank and wooden platform still stand from members of the “I AM” religious group whose adherents moved to Ouray in 1942 and brought new perspectives to the old mining town. After their main lodge burned, members continued to camp on the site.
ANDREW GULLIFORD/Special to the Herald
Few structures remain on the 800-acre site, but one extant building is this cellar or storage area. It includes traces of yellow and purple paint on the interior.
ANDREW GULLIFORD/Special to the Herald
The concrete foundation of the original 1940s lodge can still be seen at the north edge of Ironton Park. Built as a ski lodge, the building became a retreat for the Saint Germain Foundation and “I AM” religious teachings.
Driving across Colorado and the West, I see historic buildings or structures that compel me to get out of my truck and take a walk. For years, I’ve driven between Silverton and Ouray and noticed the large stone garage just east of Crystal Lake in Ironton Park. I’ve always wondered what it was, but in my most vivid imagination I could never have created the story I’m about to tell.
No fiction. Just fact. Including: a ski area, a religion, loudspeakers sounding heavenly music, a couple’s spiritual beliefs tested all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a tragic fire, a yellow Cadillac, and the colors of the rainbow.
The story begins simply enough. A couple of friends decided to build a ski area.
Ouray businessman Joseph Condotti and Ralph Kullerstrand, president of Citizen’s State Bank, acquired patented mining claims on the north end of Ironton Park, and using lumber and bricks recycled from the Saratoga Smelter, built a two-story lodge with a full basement and attic. Ouray historian Don Paulson writes, “They built a ski lift with seven towers, the remnants of which can still be found, and cleared a run of approximately 1,800 feet.”
Across U.S. Highway 550, the partners created today’s Crystal Lake and stocked it with trout, which Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr ate while he attended the lodge’s opening ceremonies in 1940. But the lodge never succeeded. The business partnership failed.
Paulson writes, “Some believe that avalanche hazard was the cause of the disagreement. The Guadalupe slide runs just north of the lodge building and would have threatened the ski run.”
As the ski area sat vacant, a burgeoning religious movement, borne out of the desperation of the Great Depression, lost one of its founders. The religion’s practitioners sought solace in the San Juan Mountains. They bought the lodge and ski area.
In many cultures around the world, mountains are seen as sacred places. Ouray bills itself as “the Switzerland of America,” so maybe that’s why in the 1940s the Saint Germain Foundation bought the unused ski lodge for a religious retreat. A decade earlier in 1930, Guy W. Ballard, hiking on Mount Shasta in northern California, had encountered the Ascended Master Saint Germain. That experience was the origin of the “I AM” religious teachings.
According to the Saint Germain Foundation, Jesus Christ was an Ascended Master, and Joan of Arc and Benjamin Franklin were earlier embodiments of Mrs. Guy Ballard. In the 1930s, Saint Germain inspired Guy Ballard to write books titled Unveiled Mysteries and The Magic Presence. The books communicate theosophy, and volume No. 3 is The ‘I AM’ Discourses, which are sacred scriptures and part of the Ascended Master Teachings religion. In 1939, Guy Ballard became an Ascended Master.
The “I AM” movement grew spectacularly during the dark days of the Depression. In 1942, the federal government indicted his wife, Edna Ballard, their son Donald Ballard and other affiliates on 12 counts including mail fraud. They were convicted of organizing a moneymaking scheme, and the same year the foundation bought the lodge and members moved to Ouray seeking privacy. The Ballard family appealed the convictions, and two years later the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in one of the most important decisions about religious freedom in the 20th century.
The Ballards won. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned their conviction in United States v. Ballard 322 U.S. 78 (1944). In a victory for the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, the high court ruled that the tenets of one’s religious faith could not be legally challenged.
Now comes her yellow Cadillac, Mrs. Edna Ballard, and members of the “I AM” religion. They preferred the colors of the rainbow, including purple and yellow, and her inner staff wore formal clothes. One story is that a local Ouray teacher involved in the “I AM” religious group would not tolerate red and black crayons in her schoolroom. The lodge held a sanctuary on the main floor for regular services. Sounds of violins, carillon bells – at the time the highest in the world – and harp music wafted down the canyon. Nearby were plans for a music healing temple.
Lifelong member Bud Thayer knew Mrs. Ballard and he told me, “She was guided by Saint Germain in what she did in purchasing the property. We were very near a concentration of spiritual energy in that whole area for a number of miles around. We regard that property as very sacred.”
Followers of the religious group produced radio broadcasts “that went all over the world” through wire connections from the property. Normally five to 10 people lived on site, but when Mrs. Ballard arrived there could be as many as 25 assistants.
“She came three to four times a year. She absolutely loved it. She was at her happiest at the lodge in Ouray,” Thayer says.
On the site, a root cellar still has traces of purple and yellow paint. A careful hiker can find little patios under pine trees, short hand-stacked stone walls, and other rock masonry architectural features.
To this day the Chicago-based Saint Germain Foundation exists worldwide with over 300 “I AM” sanctuaries and centers, including one in Santa Fe. But not in Ouray.
After buying the ski area in 1942, the religious group purchased mining claims until they owned an 800-acre site.
According to Paulson, “In 1947 they announced plans to open a large summer camp able to house over 500 people but that never materialized. Unfortunately, in January of 1952, the lodge caretaker accidentally set the building on fire using a blowtorch” while melting snow and icicles on the roof. Because of prevailing canyon winds the old mining timbers burned instantly. Terraces show where summer cabins would have been built.
Today, only the concrete foundation of the lodge remains and I like to hike around it. I think about the ski area and summer camp that could have been but never was. The stone garage built in the fall of 1952 is locked. Plans included rebuilding the lodge one or two stories atop the garage, but instead it became a truck and storage area.
The foundation held on to the property for a few more decades and members of the organization camped on site. On Feb. 10, 1971, . Edna Ballard died in Chicago and took her ascension as the Ascended Lady Master Lotus.
Assisted by federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Red Mountain Project and the Trust for Public Land purchased the 800 acres and transferred it back to the U.S. Forest Service. What was private is now public land.
Leigh Ann Hunt, forest archaeologist for the Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison National Forest, has written a cultural resource inventory of the site. A stout metal and wood picnic table remains, and I love the stone walls and terraces that look like elves built them.
I agree with the Saint Germain Foundation. Mountains are sacred places. The foundation established more permanent quarters at Mount Shasta, and their former Colorado religious retreat is once again public domain. For me, the silvery San Juans meet my spiritual needs, and though I like rainbow colors, I prefer blue – sky blue – the color you see at 12,000 feet.
Seems those 5 skiers that escaped la muerte on Feb. 13th were living right…
The 2016 Ridgway School Learn To Ice Climb program capitalized on the Ouray Ice Park, a unique community resource to introduce Ridgway 9th grade students to the spectacular sport of ice climbing. Over three Wednesdays in January and February, the students learned how to ice climb under the professional guidance of Ouray County’s two local guide services, Peak Mountain Guides and San Juan Mountain Guides. The guide services kindly provided their services at cost in order to support the program. Funding was provided by the George Gardner Scholarship Fund and the Mount Sneffels Education Foundation.
With fantastic ice conditions, great weather, and excited students, the program was a huge success. Everyone learned how to swing the ice tools, kick the crampons, hold the rope for a friend, and climb the ice! Most importantly, as they learn skills for ice climbing, they also learned about teamwork, trust, and overcoming challenges. The challenge and excitement of ice climbing creates a potent environment for personal growth. After ice climbing each morning, the group spent the afternoon at the Ouray Hot Springs where they debriefed the experience and hopefully learned some of the deeper life lessons that could be gleaned from the experience.
We at the GGSF are very happy to support this valuable experiential learning opportunity for Ridgway 9th graders.
Interpreting weather with Maria, pronostico de campo, Rio Blanco Chile
Avy control work above Hotel Portillo
The Brit & Reggie