EcoFlight provided overflights out of Moab, UT as a platform for Native American tribes and the climbing community to come together and talk about the Bears Ears National Monument proposal. Native American leaders have invited themselves to the table to gather input on public lands management in San Juan County, southeast Utah. Sacred places and important biological areas were identified by Native American elders, spiritual leaders, hunters, gatherers and conservation scientists to form the boundaries of a 1.9 million-acre proposal in 2010, now called the Bears Ears...

Students from science classes at Yampah, Roaring Fork and Glenwood Springs high schools on Wednesday got a look at the big picture of what a watershed looks like from the cockpit of small airplanes as they flew over the Roaring Fork River watershed.
Our flight took us over the spectacular canyons of Dinosaur National Monument and the Green and Yampah Rivers, where 300,000 annual visitors spend $17 million a year. The BLM recently finalized a Master Leasing Plan for oil and gas development in the surrounding area, which identifies ecologically sensitive areas and balances the needs of energy developers with protections for the natural and cultural resources, night skies, and quiet, natural landscapes of the national monument.
The snow was blowing sideways. The visibility was variable around ½ mile. Our old familiar Highway 82 was not far below, showing us the way down the Roaring Fork valley once again. I said to my copilot, "copilot, it seems like we have been here before".
Rep. Scott Tipton has released a discussion draft of the Western Colorado Lease Exchange and Conservation Act of 2016. The bill closely resembles a proposal put forth by industry last year and proposes to exchange controversial leases in the Thompson Divide for new leases in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison national forests.
There was smoke in the distance and you could see the columns of flame towering over the trees on the horizon. As we moved north the air began to move upward and downward alarmingly, and it was obvious that the fires of Yellowstone were creating the gusts and thermals.
The BLM's Tres Rios office is looking at a Master Leasing Plan for western La Plata County and eastern Montezuma County. An MLP is a planning tool that lets both citizens and energy companies work to identify where and how responsible oil and gas development can take place, and where conflicts might exist - before leasing occurs.
A vastness enfolds ahead, under and behind our ship. The steady hum of the engine envelops us and we are grateful for the smooth air, the quiet and the magnitude of the landscape passing below us. The great Sonoran and Mojave Deserts come into view as we navigate restricted airspace where bombing ranges abound...
After more than a decade of work by local leaders on legislative efforts to protect these areas, citizens are pushing for the designation of three new national monuments here. National monument designations for Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains will preserve these pristine landscapes for current and future generations to enjoy.
A recent flight in Utah revealed the wildness of federal public lands like Bears Ears and the Greater Canyonlands, and the heavy industrial impacts to state lands like the tar sands at PR Springs. State lands in this case tended to be managed more for profit, with less regard for the condition of the land and water. The land speaks for itself when looking at the issue of states taking over federal land. Have a look and see if you can tell the difference between federal and state lands here.
As winter settles into the Rocky Mountains we, who live here, hunker in and watch. We watch the snowflakes fall, watch fingers and toes when the cold gets extreme, watch our friends' faces for frostbite, and watch the forecasts for the next big dump bringing fresh powder and smiles on the faces of skiers, and frowns on the faces of the pilots. Unless, of course, the pilot also is a skier☺
I am on my way home from some very revealing flights in Arizona a vision of the movie Avatar comes into mind. No, it is not the similarity of the jungles of Pandora to Arizona, because what I am flying over is a vista of phantasmagoric island mountain ranges piercing the sky from horizon to horizon. The high desert floor in Pinal County, Arizona is punctuated by extrusive igneous rock formations, jagged cliffs and...
A blue-bird Colorado day and the last of the gold leaves in the Thompson Divide were a treat from the air for Trout Unlimited, Thompson Divide Coalition and 5280 Magazine. The 221,500-acre Thompson Divide is home to critical wildlife habitat for big game, rare native trout and animals like lynx, moose and mountain lion. This backcountry haven is the lifeblood of surrounding communities dependent on the tourism of sportsmen, skiers, motorized recreationists, and it provides critical grazing land to support the local ranching industry.
It was one of those idyllic fall days in Aspen, Colorado. The Roaring Fork River was rushing from a recent passing storm; the golden leaves of aspens cast a spotlight on a man passionately speaking to a group of students. Tourists visiting the spot began to congregate around the discussion and the speaker found himself in the middle of a crowd like John the Baptist collecting souls. I was the speaker, the topic was the creation of our Flight Across America Program (FLAA) as John Denver and I first envisioned it, and the gathering crowd was made up of fanatical John Denver supporters, celebrating the 18th anniversary of his death at a beautiful spot along the river, called the John Denver Sanctuary in Aspen. What a coinkidink.
Where there's smoke there's fire, where there is drought there is incendiary quick-moving fire, and this summer we have seen our share. In the last Captain's Log I recounted flying through the dense smoke to identify lands for wildlife connectivity and habitat. This last month I was flying experts over the devastation that many of these fires caused...