The Ouray Trail Group faces an uphill climb this month. The Ouray Ranger District set a Sept. 1 deadline to remove the staircase OTG erected on the west end of Box Canyon Park or face having the ORD remove the staircase and recycle it. There didn't seem to be any "ifs, ands or buts" when it came to this directive. The staircase was funded by an anonymous donor to the tune of $30,000-plus.
We reported last week that in May the acting district ranger, Sabrina Flores, was in attendance for a field trip to the staircase with City of Ouray officials, representatives of a private landowner and a county commissioner.
No members of the Ouray Trail Group, which puts in 5,000 hours a year maintaining one of the best, if not the best, local trail system in the state, was invited along on this field trip. The trip was to designed to give Flores the lay of the land and help her make a determination on the future of the staircase.
First, let me say, shame on Flores for not insisting that anyone from the OTG be in attendance for a meeting that played a critical role in the final decision. Second, city officials, hopefully, protested the glaring absence.
And third, the county commissioner in attendance should apologize. In no subsequent public forum has the commissioner offered protest to the possible removal of the staircase. Perhaps his silence is deafening because he knows he had no business being there to begin with, since the staircase didn't involve the county at that point. But he, as an outspoken advocate of the Perimeter Trail and the work the OTG does to sustain tourism and quality of life in this county, should have left that May meeting in protest over the omission of any trail group member representative.
If the USFS removes this staircase in September — and it has taken steps to bid the job already — guaranteed, the relationship between the trail group and the USFS will part paths. And it could financially ruin the trail group, which has said it expects to have to return the donor's money.
It's too bad nobody had the fortitude to put their foot down in May and insist the OTG at least be given a voice and be present at a meeting that quite possibly sealed its fate.
Smoke, smoke smoke, smoke, smoke! Look on inciweb.nwcg.gov and you'll see 13 fires burning across our state. Look out your weepy, teary eyes, though, and you can barely make out the Cimmarons for all the smoke.
To quote Tony Soprano, "What’re ya gonna do?"
Tell firefighter jokes, that's what. If anyone needs a laugh these days, it's got to be the women and men who are rushing to every smoldering pile these days.
A dazed and confused second homeowner called the Ridgway Fire Department. "Come quick, come quick," he said. "I think there's a fire by my cabin."
The dispatcher said, "Ok, calm down. Now just tell us how to get there."
The second homeowner said, "Oh, don't you guys have that big red truck anymore?"
One day in dense, forested trees between Ouray and Ridgway, the Ouray and Ridgway fire departments were fighting a horrific blaze. It wasn't long before a strong wind whipped up and fueled the fire, which engulfed a Mercedes Benz.
The owner of the luxury car rushed to the fire chiefs and said his briefcase with company secrets was in that car, and he'd give whichever fire department that rescued the case a $50,000 reward.
Buoyed by this extra incentive, both departments fought and fought and fought the blaze to get to that car.
But the wind whipped harder and the blaze grew. The owner of the car, now in complete panic, upped the offer to $100,000.
Valiantly, the Ouray and Ridgway fire departments fought the flames, but couldn't get close.
Just then, the Log Hill Fire Department truck came screaming down Log Hill, going 90 miles per hour, and raced right into the flames. Its firefighters, surrounded by an inferno, jumped out of the truck and fought with an effort never seen before and rescued the briefcase, with company secrets intact.
The owner of the Mercedes, overjoyed and amazed, paid the Log Hill firefighters double the handsome sum and asked what they intended to do with all that money.
The firetruck driver shook the man's hand, looked him in the eye and said, "The first thing we're going to do is fix the dang brakes on that truck."
Alan Todd is co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at email@example.com.