Collateral Damage Along Ancestral Routes

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“This is a book about the US-Mexico border wall and immigration policy, but more importantly it is about the land, wildlife, and people that have found themselves at the front lines of a turning point in North American history…” — from Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall

We first wrote about this book back in 2012. It’s still the only book we know of that tackles the ecological implications of the single most dramatic part of the United States’ immigration policy — the ongoing construction of a wall along our border with Mexico. Krista Schlyer’s Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall makes it clear what’s at stake in the borderlands. This region contains a number of rare ecosystems, some of the last undeveloped prairies on the continent, along with habitat and migration corridors for some of North America’s most imperiled species.

So what happens when you build a wall?

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Mule deer and the border wall, Arizona

“A barrier like a mountain can create a desert. But what is the impact of the sudden arrival of a great wall within a desert that is experiencing rapid warming and prolonged draught conditions?” — Krista Schlyer

For more on this one-of-a-kind book, here’s a short film clip:


With Continental Divide, Krista Schlyer, wielding pen and camera with equal grace, takes her place as one of the staunchest advocates of the battered, contested, and sublimely beautiful territory we know as the US-Mexico borderlands.” — William deBuys
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Green jays in the Audubon Sabal Palm Preserve, Brownsville, Texas.

“The wall now covers only about one-third the length of the border, undercutting the ecological integrity of the borderlands, but not fully severing it. What becomes of the natural communities of the borderlands depends on what happens next.” —Krista Schlyer

We’ll be writing much more about the global reach of the Land Library’s books in the days ahead. To learn much more about the Rocky Mountain Land Library and our wide-ranging collection, be sure to visit our current Kickstarter page!

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The Rocky Mountain Land Library’s long-awaited Kickstarter Campaign is LIVE! Help bring books, people & programs to Colorado’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With your support we will transform a historic high mountain ranch into a residential library devoted to land, community, and the many positive ways we can all move forward together.

But first, CLICK HERE and you’ll find out much more. Learn how you can be an important part of this land-inspired, book-loving grassroots project!

PLEASE DONATE & PLEASE SHARE!

HELP US SPREAD THE WORD FAR & WIDE!

Field Sketches of a Blue Sky Day

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What a summer it has been! We wrapped up our Summer Workshop schedule this past weekend with a Nature Journaling/Field Sketching class taught by artist and naturalist Sherrie York. Here’s a few photos from an inspiring day at Buffalo Peaks Ranch!

Sherrie York leading the class in a gesture drawing exercise, with Reinecker Ridge in the distance.

Sherrie York leading the class in a gesture drawing exercise, with Reinecker Ridge in the distance.

Sherrie performs a triple salchow -- a feat seldom attempted at field-sketching classes.

Sherrie performs a triple salchow — a feat seldom seen at field-sketching classes.

Sketching under the Cottonwood, with the newly roofed Cook's House in the distance.

Sketching under the Cottonwood, with the newly roofed Cook’s House in the distance.

The artist's spread across the ranch, sketching as they go....

The artist’s spread across the ranch, sketching as they go….

With plenty to see, far and wide -- including a swirl of grass at their feet.

With plenty to see, far and wide — including a swirl of grass at their feet.

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In short, a very memorable day at Buffalo Peaks Ranch! Thanks goes to Sherrie York, a wonderful class of field-sketchers, and South Park for supplying another magnificent blue sky day!

For more on Sherrie York’s work, do yourself a huge favor and visit her gorgeous website! Sherrie also has a very fun & informative blog, Brush & Baren.

And congratulations to Sherrie for her inclusion in this year’s 40th Annual Birds in Art exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Here’s one of Sherrie’s wonderful reduction linocuts:

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We’re already excited about next year! We hope to expand our workshop offerings, and definitely have Sherrie York back whenever she has the time!

Stanzas & Stones

A tent full of poets, with Mount Silverheels up valley.

Our poet’s tent, with Mount Silverheels up valley.

It’s been a memorable couple of weeks, as the Land Library hosted our first two workshops at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. We led off with a day-long poetry workshop taught by Jodie Hollander (author of The Humane Society). It was such a beautiful day for an outdoor class!

A quiet moment toward the end of the day as folks spread across the ranch to write a few lines inspired by the day's workshop.

A quiet moment toward the end of the day as folks spread across the ranch to write a few lines inspired by the day’s workshop.

The ranch provides plenty of quiet places to sit, think, and imagine. The ranch, and the entire South Park region, provides everyone such a powerful learning landscape. Something that we definitely enjoyed this past weekend, as we followed Vince Matthews on an eye-opening geological field trip across South Park:

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Before hitting the road, we all gathered on the front porch, as former Colorado State Geologist Vince Matthews prepared us for all that we would soon see in the field.

Man in Black: Vince Matthews describing the importance of the Pierre Shale to valley formation in South Park.

Man in Black: Vince Matthews describing the importance of the Pierre Shale to valley formation in South Park.

Little by little, the landscape of South Park became clearer, with layers of sheer wonder — like staring up at a star-filled sky.

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Reading the Rock Record: our hardy group huddles up by the story-filled road cut atop Red Hill Pass.

Vince pointing out a truly impressive lateral moraine -- evidence of South Park's extensive glacial history.

Vince pointing out a truly impressive lateral moraine — evidence of South Park’s extensive glacial history.

Thanks to Jodie Hollander, Vince Matthews, and all attendees, the Land Library is fired up for even more classes and programs in 2016!

But for now, we have one more workshop scheduled for this season: The Illustrated Journal, taught by artist Sherrie York. Maybe we’ll see you in September?

Reading South Park’s Landscape

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Grab your pack, and dust off your boots! On Saturday, August 8th, Colorado’s former State Geologist Vince Matthews will lead the Land Library’s very first geology field trip. We’ll all meet at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, and then it’s off to explore the western front of South Park. Along the way, we’ll look for tracks of ancient glaciers, find ample evidence of volcanic activity, and discover why the Mosquito Range is one of the richest sections of the famed Colorado Mineral Belt.

Vince Matthews is also the author of the award-winning book Messages in Stone: Colorado’s Colorful Geology, and frequently posts on high mountain geology on his Leadville Geology facebook page.

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Image from: Panoramic Aerial Maps of the American West — a bird’s-eye view from the north, centered on South Park’s vast high mountain basin, surrounded by ranges on almost all sides. Buffalo Peaks Ranch is located virtually in the center of South Park. (A further navigational aid: Pikes Peak is the snow-covered outlier in the center of the top left quadrant of the above image).

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Join us on August 8th, and learn something new about the always surprising landscape of South Park! For much more on Vince Matthew’s field trip, Reading South Park’s Landscape, and how to register, please click here.

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For a larger image of this handy South Park cross-section, be sure to click on the image above.

Wild Fibers at an Old Sheep Ranch

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The high mountain grasslands of Colorado’s South Park have a rich history of sheep ranching, perhaps best captured by Myron Wood’s classic photograph above: Sheep Storm, South Park, 1967, courtesy of the Pikes Peaks Library District. Buffalo Peaks Ranch, the Land Library’s headwaters site, shared in that ranching tradition.

Our last post reported on plans to convert the ranch’s eighteen corral stalls into artist studios and maker-spaces of all types:

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With Buffalo Peaks Ranch’s historic ties to sheep ranching, and the recent donation of a fully-equipped weaving studio, we are especially excited about creating a space for Fiber Arts. We’ll have plenty of space for looms and classes, plus a dedicated library devoted to books such as these:

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The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, and The Book of Looms by Eric Broudy.

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We also have many books on dyes, such as A Dyer’s Garden: Growing Dyes for Natural Fibers by Rita Buchanan. And one of our favorite sections features textile traditions across the globe, such as Living Fabric: Weaving among the Nomads of Ladakh Himalaya by Monisha Ahmed.

As soon as possible, we’ll have a regular schedule of workshops and demonstrations, inspired by new traditions and old. We would love to start this summer by constructing a warp weighted loom, an ancient craft (dating back to 7000 BC) captured in one of our favorite film clips from Norway’s remarkable Norsk Folkemuseum. This short 1947 clip is silent, black & white, and truly wonderful from start to finish:

For much more on the slow craft of Norway visit Norsk Folkemuseum’s YouTube Channel — there’s many more vintage film clips!

We hope that each corral stall will be a nesting place of creativity, but then, there’s just so much anyone can plan. And maybe that’s a good thing. Here’s what happened to one artist open to change:

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In 1972, when the packing and crating for a major exhibition made it impossible for Henry Moore to work in his sculpture studio, he retreated to a small shed that looked out on a sheep meadow. Over the course of several months, Moore captured the scene from his window, and upon completion of his Sheep Sketchbook, it was presented as a gift to the artist’s daughter, Mary.
Who knows what artists will see out their windows at Buffalo Peaks Ranch?

People and the Land A story that Buffalo Peaks Ranch will tell so well!

People and the Land
A story that Buffalo Peaks Ranch tells so well!

Anything but Lonely at Buffalo Peaks Ranch

Work is underway at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, as we prepare for our first full year of ranch renovation. Before we shelve books and offer classes and workshops, we have a few roofs that need fixing, and buildings in need of a fresh coat of paint. This coming weekend we’ll begin a regular schedule of ranch clean-up, as we make ready for the spring construction season.

Winter is a quiet time at the ranch. Sometimes we wonder if it will be too isolated, too quiet. Well, that worry went away recently after the Land Library’s architect and adviser Ted Schultz emailed us this report:

“I had the chance to drop by the ranch last Sunday during the few hours of sunset — oh my is all I can say. The winter ranch felt anything but lonely — a surprising feeling — even though not a soul or footprint. The sounds of the metal roof popping with the diminishing rays of the settling sun; the rhythmic sound of a chain knocking with the steady wind on a gate post, coyotes’ lonely yips quite nearby.

The ranch is all about the five senses. I can see people living there in the dead of winter in the most fulfilling way — the wide open solitude as a great, vital companion.”

No wonder we’re happy to begin our winter work! Here’s a few wonderful photos Ted sent us from his winter ranch visit. Enjoy!

Sun setting over Buffalo Peaks, January 2015. All that's missing is the warm glow of light through the windows, and the smell of soup and freshly-baked bread on the wind!

Sun setting over Buffalo Peaks, January 2015.
All that’s missing is the warm glow of light through the windows, and the smell of soup and freshly-baked bread on the wind!

The Lambing Barn and sheds, with a glowing Reinecker Ridge on the horizon.  Lots of snow, but as you can see, it's relatively easy to get around.

The Lambing Barn and sheds, with a glowing Reinecker Ridge on the horizon.
Lots of snow, but as you can see, it’s relatively easy to get around.

Buffalo Peaks Ranch at dusk. No elk in sight, but they'll be at the ranch any time now!

Buffalo Peaks Ranch at dusk. No elk in sight, but they’ll be at the ranch any time now!

South Park's deep blue sky and the Bunkhouse we'll be repairing this summer.

South Park’s deep blue sky and the Bunkhouse we’ll be repairing this summer.

Stay tuned for more reports this winter and spring — and think about visiting us this coming summer!

A Sheepwagon Full of Books

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In 2001, a wonderful Wyoming publisher, High Plains Press, published one of the Land Library’s favorite books, Sheepwagon: Home on the Range. Author Nancy Weidel offered one crisp, concise reason for our admiration: “The sheepwagon is a marvel of practicality and efficiency.”

But there’s more reasons to love this book, with its stories, photographs, and sensitive appreciation for hard lives lived in a starkly beautiful land. This book makes clear that the sheepwagon provided both a bit of warmth, and a touch of home. Weidel: “Designed to provide shelter and heat, mobility, and storage, the sheepwagon was the ideal home for the herder….It could easily be moved by two horses, a most important feature.”

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Yes, as you can see, every inch counted, but space also needed to be found for the unexpected. Some sheepwagons had side boxes that “came in handy during lambing, when a weak newborn might be placed there overnight to be revived by the heat of the wagon stove.”

Given Buffalo Peaks Ranch’s tradition of sheep ranching, we would love to see at least a few sheepwagons return to South Park. Of course, being the impractical book people that we are, we immediately lose the point of the story and wonder, what books can we fit in this tiny space? When life is pared to its essentials, don’t we still need at least a small shelf of books? Here’s a few we would pick:

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Two classic memoirs of the American West: This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind by Ivan Doig, and The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich, along with a terrific book from the Scottish highlands: The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks, and most definitely this classic Basque story of shepherding in the American West, and the long lost homeland of the Pyrenees: Sweet Promised Land by Robert Laxalt.

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from Western Wagon Wheels by Lambert Florin

And of course there’s this classic memoir from the Land Library’s shelves — Archer Gilfillan’s Sheep: Life on the South Dakota Range(1929). Here’s Gilfillan writing simply and eloquently about little known lives:

“One of the popular misconceptions about herding is that it is a monotonous job; or as a friend of mine puts it, ‘Herding is all right if you don’t have an active mind.” But there is really little monotony in it. The sheep rarely act the same two days in succession. If they run one day, they are apt to be quiet the next. They herd differently in a high wind from what they do in a gentle breeze. They travel with a cold wind and against a warm one. They are apt to graze contentedly where feed is plenty and to string out and run where the pickings are poor. Herding at one season is so different from herding at another as almost to constitute a different job.”

Mean Poets and Calm Cattle

jack thorpcattle calls

If you got to talking to most cowboys, they’d admit they write ’em. I think some of the meanest, toughest sons of bitches around write poetry.” — Ross Knox

In 1908, a local rancher walked into the Estancia, New Mexico newspaper office, and inquired about printing a small book of cowboy songs he had been working on. For almost twenty years, Jack Thorp gathered cowboy ballads and poems from across the west. The finished volume was printed for just six cents a copy, and was the first book exclusively devoted to cowboy songs. Not only that, but Thorp is recognized as the first person to preserve the ballads sung by ranchers to calm cattle on the range. Western historian Mark Gardner has written a wonderful essay to accompany this new edition of Jack Thorp’s Songs of the Cowboys, which includes a CD selection from the songs Thorp has kept alive.

also pictured above: Cowboy Songs, Ballads, and Cattle Calls from Texas, a Library of Congress CD, featuring field recordings made by John A. Lomax.

And, to put a Western twist on National Poetry Month, here’s a few more books & CD’s from the Land Library’s Western Folklore collection:

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Elko! A Cowboy Gathering (a CD from the 20th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada), Cowboy Poets & Cowboy Poetry, edited by David Stanley & Elaine Thatcher, Cowboy Poetry Classics (a CD of a Smithsonian Folkways recording)

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Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion, edited by Virginia Bennett, Home on the Range: John A. Lomax & his Cowboy Songs by Deborah Hopkinson & S.D. Schindler (from our Waterton Canyon Kids Library), Graining the Mare: The Poetry of Ranch Women, edited by Teresa Jordan

Preserving a Quiet Place, and Our Earthly Roots

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By making Florissant a national monument in 1969, the United States guaranteed protection to an important natural place, a quiet place where we can think about our earthly roots. Looking up, we can watch the kestrels dive like blue angels in search of grasshoppers, while we stand in the graveyard of a great fallen community — the Florissant ecosystem of the Eocene. Here, with the wonder of a child, we can take the mental journey back through the geologic ages.” — Estella Leopold

In the summer of 1969, one of the world’s premier fossil beds nearly became an A-frame housing subdivision. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument was saved by a grassroots group of scientists, conservationists, and local ranchers, along with a precedent-setting legal team. As Estella Leopold, one of the founding members of the Defenders of Florissant, once commented, “How can a group of citizens take on the real estate establishment? Well…it’s love and science and good lawyers.

This Saturday, the Rocky Mountain Land Series (in partnership with the Aldo Leopold Foundation) is honored to welcome Estella Leopold, co-author of Saved in Time: The Fight to Establish Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado — a first hand account of a classic environmental battle that has many lessons for today.

For details on Estella Leopold’s Land Series program, please click here!

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Estella Leopold’s co-author, Herbert W. Meyer, also wrote the classic work, The Fossils of Florissant — the subject of a truly memorable Land Series program in 2003.

If one of the pleasures in visiting Florissant is seeing the landscapes and imagining what they were like in outline 34 million years ago, what makes the experience so vivid is the incredible preservation of the fossil-bearing rocks themselves. It is a far different experience than looking at a set of hand-sized fossils on display in a glass cabinet.” — Estella Leopold

Forty years later, some of the early Defenders of Florissant return to what is now Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument — without an A-frame in sight:

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Estella Leopold, Tom Lamm, former Governor Dick Lamm, Attorney Victor Yannacone, Jr., and Superintendent Keith Payne celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

The fight to save Florissant is one of Colorado’s greatest stories of conservation, grassroots activism, and devotion to the land. A land ethic that runs deep in the Leopold family, from Estella’s early days at her family’s Sand County shack:

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For much more on the Leopold’s ongoing legacy, be sure to visit the Aldo Leopold Foundation‘s website, which includes a special section on Estella Leopold.

See you all on Saturday!

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At the Sand County shack, 1939: rear: Aldo & Estella Leopold, Luna, Starker(kneeling); front: Nina, young Estella, and Gus, a treasured dog that has everyone’s attention.

Collateral Damage along Ancestral Routes

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“This is a book about the US-Mexico border wall and immigration policy, but more importantly it is about the land, wildlife, and people that have found themselves at the front lines of a turning point in North American history…” — from Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall

This is the only book we know of that tackles the ecological implications of the single most dramatic part of the United States’ immigration policy — the ongoing construction of a wall along our border with Mexico. Krista Schlyer’s Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall makes it clear what’s at stake in the borderlands. This region contains a number of rare ecosystems, some of the last undeveloped prairies on the continent, along with habitat and migration corridors for some of North America’s most imperiled species. So what happens when you build a wall?

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Mule deer and the border wall, Arizona

“A barrier like a mountain can create a desert. But what is the impact of the sudden arrival of a great wall within a desert that is experiencing rapid warming and prolonged draught conditions?” — Krista Schlyer

For more on this one-of-a-kind book, here’s a short film clip:


With Continental Divide, Krista Schlyer, wielding pen and camera with equal grace, takes her place as one of the staunchest advocates of the battered, contested, and sublimely beautiful territory we know as the US-Mexico borderlands.” — William deBuys
birds

Green jays in the Audubon Sabal Palm Preserve, Brownsville, Texas.

“The wall now covers only about one-third the length of the border, undercutting the ecological integrity of the borderlands, but not fully severing it. What becomes of the natural communities of the borderlands depends on what happens next.” —Krista Schlyer

For more on the importance of connected landscapes and ecosystems, here’s a few more excellent books from past posts!

Pronghorn Passage (protecting ancient migratory routes through Wyoming, and beyond).

Only Connect (on the Spine of the Continent Initiative‘s efforts to connect landscapes along the Continental Divide, from Mexico to the Yukon).