camping ordinance

COLORADO/OURAY COUNTY Retail pot rolls out in the new year

By Sheridan Block

Along with the new year, Colorado’s retail marijuana industry is rolling out, as 136 pot shops have begun sales this week.
Jan. 1 marked the first day medical marijuana facilities were able to make the crossover into recreational marijuana sales.
Last week, on Dec. 23, the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division mailed out 348 retail marijuana licenses to prospective establishments. Included in those are 136 marijuana stores, 178 cultivation facilities, 31 products manufacturing facilities and three testing facilities.

OURAY COUNTY Woman's club names Caldwell 'Woman of the Year'


Vicki Caldwell was named Woman of the Year by the Woman's Club of Ouray County. Caldwell served as president for three years and has been a member of the club for 10 years.
Plaindealer photo by Beecher Threatt

by Beecher Threatt

In an emotional celebration Tuesday the Woman's Club of Ouray County named Vicki Caldwell the 2013 Woman of the Year. M.-E. Spirek kept the audience in suspense, describing the honoree to slowly reveal clues as to her identity, and tears welled in Caldwell's eyes as she realized what was happening. The tears spilled as Spirek named Caldwell, who came forward to hugs from equally teary Spirek and Penny Hanshaw.

OURAY COUNTY Trico Peak avalanche rescue stand down

Montrose Care Flight was on stand by Sunday morning at Fellin Park in case it was needed for an avalanche resuce.

Photo by Bill Tiedje

Ouray Mountain Rescue was put on alert Sunday morning for a possible avalanche rescue near Trico Peak near Red Mountain Pass. Montrose Fire is on scene. Two parties reported to Montrose Fire that they self-rescued, and Montrose Care Flight, which staged at Fellin Park in Ouray was cancelled. County and area emergency personnel were stretched thin Sunday morning due to this incident and an explosion and injuries at the Revenue-Virginius Mine. Click here for details on that story.

Ouray: Ficco will be remembered for his kindness

By Sheridan Block

Alvin Joseph Ficco, 80, of Ouray, passed away at home in the company of his family and friends on Apr. 27.
A father of four sons, Ficco’s family remembered him as a loving father and husband who always put others before himself. Nicknamed “Saint Alvin,” he never spoke ill of anyone and never held a grudge, said his youngest son, Joe Ficco. He lived by the rule “if you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
“He was just such a caring man and he thought about everyone else but himself,” said his eldest son, Dan Ficco. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me he’s a guy who didn’t do anything wrong.”

Years of work on camping regs yield no changes

After years of discussion and work, Ouray County commissioners decided to postpone further regulation of non-commercial camping, citing inconsistencies. Commissioners reconsidered the drafted ordinance after the planning commission returned proposed

TODD: Cost of pot outweighs benefits

When Amendment 64 was passed by Colorado voters making it part of the constitution, it virtually put the new laws related to regulation and taxation of marijuana in stone. Only a two-thirds vote by the General Assembly can bring the amendment to the fore for voters to alter.
Approved retail stores can begin selling marijuana as early as Jan. 1. Localities must decide whether or not to permit retail sales of the product. Ouray's city council is grappling with the decision on how to handle the sale of this legal recreational drug.
Is "drug" even the correct word? In some respects, marijuana is quite an anomaly. It is a drug, as seen by the growing number of medical marijuana growers and dispensaries across the state. In six months, it will also be treated and taxed similarly to alcohol: you will be able to buy it, you just won't be able to consume it in public places.
Is there another substance that gets this kind of dual treatment? The sale and regulation of marijuana is being set up in similar fashion to alcohol, but there ends the parallel. Alcohol is not considered a healing drug. And alcohol is not solely restricted to consumption in private places.
Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project, told that "we need to treat the product like it is, which is a relatively benign substance that millions of adults use responsibly." Many cite this "benign" aspect to marijuana and contrast it to alcohol. But contrasting it to alcohol is not really the issue. How does it stand on its own?
Marijuana smoke contains carcinogens and more tar than tobacco smoke. Marijuana offers its user a rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased rate of breathing and slowed reaction time. It's short-term psychological effects include distorted sense of time, paranoia, short-term memory loss and anxiety or depression. The cumulative lingering effects can alter behavior days and weeks after the "high" is gone. When combined with alcohol, risk factors for injuries increase substantially.
Colorado, however, has already decided that marijuana is benign, and that recreational use and possession is lawful. An adult over 21 can possess an ounce of marijuana and can grow (in an enclosed, locked space) up to six plants, three of which may be mature. Adults can give marijuana to other adults, but cannot sell it.
What could possibly go wrong, then, if it's just your neighbor buying a joint at the local Marijuana Mart, or growing a few plants to share among friends?
According to KVDR TV in Denver, crime associated with marijuana dispensaries has increased dramatically in the past few years in the Denver area. In 2009, there were 10 medical marijuana related burglaries in Denver. In 2012, the number increased to 102 medical marijuana related crimes. In the first quarter of 2013, 22 marijuana businesses have been broken into.
Residences are targets, as well. The report states that fear is when adults can grow their own, residential burglaries will only increase. And, as adults begin to distribute to friends (whether legally or by selling it), violence will increase along with burglaries. If, for instance, Joe down the street grows some really, really good stuff, and word gets around, Joe will become a target by criminals who want what he has.
Proponents of retail sales say marijuana is already here, we might as well tax it and gain from it. The new store or stores will probably become members of the local chamber. They'll request to set up booths to sell marijuana and paraphernalia at outdoor concerts and events. The bowl Ouray is nestled in among the mountains may take on new meaning.
If the sale of marijuana is not made legal in town, then illegal trafficking in town will exist. But doesn't it already? Hasn't it always been the hope of locals that our police force can enforce the law and curtail this behavior? It's not likely that illegal selling will curtail on its own just because a Marijuana Mart opens shop in town. In fact, it may create a competitive culture of pricing and value between legal and illegal sales.
How much in marijuana sales tax will it take to compensate for the inability to combat illegal activity and the reduced health of a community? The guess here is, way too much.

Alan Todd is publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at 970-325-2838 or

East Fork Fire Update

Current Size:  447 acres                                                                Containment:  3%
Management Strategy:  Full suppression
Structures Threatened:  20 residences, 15 commercial properties, and 5 outbuildings
Structures Lost:  none

Status:  The fire has been light to moderately active; burning in spruce/fir fuels with creeping and single tree torching.  Steep, rocky, inaccessible terrain (primarily below the Rim) with heavy dead/ down fuels that are extremely dry has made suppression efforts very difficult.  The high elevation also affects crew and equipment efficiencies.
The Little Cimarron Creek Road and Road 864 are being heavily used by the fire crews for access to the fire.  Some crews are staying in a ‘spike camp’ setup on the High Mesa.  Road maintenance will be ongoing with road blading and dust abatement with water as needed.

Yesterday’s Activities:  In spite of the high temperatures, fire activity was light with no visible column.  Crews continued line construction up on the High Mesa and on the gentler slopes on the Little Cimarron side.  Dozer line and fuel breaks were extended along the Rim to help containment efforts on the west flank above the inaccessible fire area.

Current Resources:  Four 20-person crews, nine engines, two dozers, three water tenders, and three helicopters.  Total personnel: 298.

Today’s Activities:  A ‘Red Flag’ warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for lightning activity in our area.  Super cell development is possible.
Crews will be taking direct suppression actions (High Mesa) where conditions allow safe completion.  Scouting on the west side of fire for other safe opportunities to establish effective fireline is ongoing.  Engine crews are nearly complete with assessment in the upper Little Cimarron vicinity.

Restrictions/Closures:  A ‘Closure Order’ was been issued on June 21, 2013 by the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests prohibiting use of National Forest System lands (Restricted Area), roads and trails that access the East Fork Fire area.  In addition, a temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in effect surrounding the East Fork Fire area.  A road “Closure Order” for the BLM’s adjacent spur roads has been issued.  Please contact: Gunnison Field Office for more information at 970-642-4940.  On June 24, 2013, the Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest implemented Stage 1 fire restrictions due to high fire danger and ongoing fire activity.  The prohibitions relate to campfires and smoking on National Forest System lands in the area.

Johnson: Utah on my mind

Utah on my mind…car, windows and other places the sun doesn’t shine; confessions of a Spoiled Snowbird

Not a week home to Lovely Ouray from my annual tee shirt, shorts and flip-flops sojourn to the desert, I’m right smack in the middle of the ever-fickle embrace of winter—spring—winter—spring— winter—spring in the Rockies. As I pen this column, Utah is plainly visible out the window…a red haze of dust, sand and small Moab dogs that fouls our hairdos and snow. It’s the annual tug-of-war transition between Old Man Winter and Vernal Spring. Vern always wins, but the exchange of blows appears to be going the full 15 rounds this year.
I know; you have no sympathy for thin-blood Devils who cut and run from the bulk of winter and spring. But before forming a lynch-mob and slogging up my muddy driveway, hell-bent on frontier justice, let me just say this, “I’m no traitor; I’ve done my time.” That I return three weeks too soon and suffer the dust and small dogs of Utah alongside you demonstrates my lovesickness for Home. Besides, it was getting hot in Arid-zona, and, how can I put this…four months in a small RV will test the bonds and promises of even the most profound of matrimonies.
I may have mentioned this before, that my agreement to move to Lovely Ouray was predicated on the “science” behind Global Warming…which I mistook to be a cross-your-heart promise that said “Ouray “ would be included in said “science” since it resides on said “Globe.” Oh boy, hoodwinked by a gol-darned do-gooder again.
It’s a matter of time, promised Al Gore, before Lovely Ouray makes a magical transition from being a two season mountain town into a glorious four-seasoned Utopia, you know, the kind where seasons are equal, conditionally appropriate…with gentle segues one to the next. That’s right; Ouray will go from five months of summer and seven months of winter (throw in two weeks of autumnal bliss and a month of Mud, if you must), to an ideal “seasonal sampler” of four distinct, handcrafted “micro-climate” brews. But no, Uncle Albert got a Nobel Prize and a million dollar gold mine and I got shafted up the Kazoo with an iced-over weathervane. Talk about “An Inconvenient Truth.”
So yes, until Uncle Al delivers on his promise, I will take leave of Old Man Winter and his brother, “Vern.” Not being an ice-climber, I only need a couple months around Christmas to get my fix of snow-fun, especially since Doc ordered me to donate my now age-inappropriate snowboard to “Second Chance” before it puts me in a wheelchair. Besides, holidays between Thanksgiving and the BCS Championship Game are most glorious in Lovely Ouray. Ah, beer, football and winter…they go together like “drunk and disorderly.” I love soaking in the Ouray Hot Springs Pool…a gentle snowfall, rising steam, icicle hairdos, peaceful conversation.
No matter the season, ours is a storybook Victorian Village. It dozes in a multi-hued hammock, flung between fluorescent crevice walls. Sentinel pyramid Mount Abrams anchors our southern gateway to mountain adventures, while to the north lays Old-West Ridgway, our unabashed gateway to sun-stroked foothills, a meandering river trail and the occasional hot air balloon. What a complementary delight. There is an unwritten “Free Trade” agreement between Ouray and Ridgway; our mountain snow glades for their extended winter sunlight.
Utah’s annual wind/dust invasion and snow squalls not withstanding, it’s good to be home. “These things shall pass,” as my Bible packing daddy use to say, “Every Paradise has its serpent, and every upside its down.” It’s true, for I have wandered the west high and low, in search of The Idyllic Place to call “home.” Guess what? All roads taken led right back here. My bones may creak, blood run thin with age, but that does not a “traitor” make, else I would set my GPS to “Where Weather Suits Clothes” and channel-surf more moderate nooks and crannies with gasoline.

As Mother Earth turns and slowly tilts Lovely Ouray toward the sun, I am reminded of an old Bible-based song by The Byrds. “To everything there is a season…a time for every purpose under heaven.” I don’t like the fickleness of old “Vern” anymore than you do, but Old Man Winter was put here to help us appreciate spring. And Vern is here to help us appreciate summer, and summer, autumn, and autumn, winter. Those opposed should move to Hawaii, where the thermostat is perennially glued to 78 degrees.     

Pinned indoors, my abode shuddering in the gale, I’m hoping Vern will get in a sucker punch on The Old Man, a TKO that puts an early end to this sandblast before it eats away my “Heaven can wait, I live in Ouray!” bumper sticker. As for promised Global Warming? Uncle Al can keep his Prize money…maybe put it with his Tobacco Fortune and find a way to keep his product out of the hands of our children.

Mark Johnson is a restless soul who lives in Ouray, Colorado with his wife, Bobbie. He is happiest when exploring the West's nooks and crannies, hiking, climbing  and mountain biking. He authors two "wanderlust" based blogs: and