October 2018 - Variety is the spice of life

Oct 19, 2018
Captain's Log Starship 1XE, Day 19 in the month October, Earth Calendar year 2018.
Variety is the spice of life.
And so it is fall, and anything goes: CAVU (ceiling absolute visibility unlimited), smoke, fog, rain and snow. Long bomber airfields and short diminutive aerodromes under high mountain passes in California and Oregon that were as exacting as they were beautiful.
One good idea usually leads to another and so when a friend and extraordinary activist called from Mountain West Strategies with the idea of following the proposed Pacific Connector pipeline for the Jordan Cove project from his home in Paonia in the North Fork valley of Colorado to Coos Bay, Oregon, we took the bait and turned it into a win-win cost-effective opportunity. We have been working with Congressman Huffman and Senator Feinstein's offices in California on public lands issues and this seemed like an opportune time to head out west, making both economic and environmental sense for the airplane.
Iron Gate Dam and Reservoir, Klamath River
The North Fork is again under threat for additional oil and gas exploration. Paonia is noted for its organic farming, laid-back idyllic lifestyle, clean air and water. 236,000 acres are offered for leasing in BLM's December Colorado sale, mostly in northwestern Colorado, and about 7,900 acres in the North Fork Valley, which could lead to farmers, winemakers and ranchers losing their livelihoods. The issue is that more leases are being issued for increased drilling. Why? Energy dominance? Exporting it as liquefied natural gas to Asia, profits going to the Canadian company Pembina?
To be sure, some jobs will be created in the US temporarily while building the pipeline and Coos Bay facility. The downside is that unfortunately the pipeline would go through some very remote, fragile and roadless areas, under streams and rivers, and of course increase drilling and its many associated problems on our public lands. In addition, private property owners will lose some property rights due to eminent domain - and this is all for a foreign corporation's profit?
The idea to fly West following the proposed pipeline route was a good one, stopping in small communities en route to fly and educate community leaders and press about this interesting and controversial issue.


Trinity Alps wilderness additions
So now, low and behold, we find ourselves in Oregon and Northern California. It's time to be creative. Two hot button issues are the Klamath River and Huffman's northwestern California public lands bill. We teamed up with members of the Yurok tribe, Trout Unlimited and Klamath River Renewal Corporation and did a series of flights down the Klamath, taking video and highlighting the current state of the river with dams intact. Removal of the four dams will start the process of successful reintroduction of anadromous fish to the upper Klamath Basin - restoring the third most productive river for salmon and steelhead on the West Coast. It's taken many years and it hasn't been easy, but a coalition of partners has come up with a bipartisan
approach and creative ways to fund and ensure the dismantling of these dams.
Well of course it is only a hop skip and a jump down to Northern California and Sacramento dodging the fire restrictions, smoke, low visibility, high mountain passes and air force training aircraft. The offices of two senators and Congressman Huffman awaited us and we flew over a wilderness proposal in the majestic Trinity Alps, surveyed forests that had been heavily burned and discussed how to better plan for the future, saving old growth forests and encouraging responsible salvage logging when appropriate.

As climate change and drought persist, more frequent and intense fires are becoming the norm, so we need to be much more strategic in planning for the future. Our work in California pertaining to fire was even more poignant as we returned home to our magical valley only to see the scars left behind from the Lake Christine Fire that burned a little too close for comfort right here in our community this summer.
"So much time and so little to do." Willie Wonka, The Chocolate Factory.
Here's another captain's quote:
Bruce Gordon