Tribute to a public-lands servant

30 09 2022

Connie Clementson, manager of Tres Rios Field Office in Dolores, is retiring after 37 years of public-lands service. For the last 11 years, she has been the head of BLM public lands in Southwest Colorado. We first met her at the 2011 Spring Creek Basin roundup when she was still with the Forest Service and served here as the then-acting district ranger for the Dolores District of San Juan National Forest. We’re glad she was able to finish her three-plus decades of service here in our corner of Colorado.

Our herd manager, Mike Jensen, gets a lot of the well-deserved credit for our recent management accomplishments in Spring Creek Basin, and we know that’s because he has had the support of the top boss – Connie – and her confidence that he was making best decisions for our herd.

Monday, Tif Rodriguez, long-time advocate for Spring Creek Basin mustangs as well as for protecting rights and rights-of-way for horsemen and horse (and other pack stock such as mules) use on public lands, and I went to Tres Rios Field Office, where Joe Manning, assistant field office manager (who also has a lot to do with our confidence-inspiring herd management), had scheduled us into a rare gap in Connie’s last-week schedule. Daniel Chavez, range tech who works with Mike (and Garth Nelson), joined us in Mike’s absence (he was returning from a trip with his daughter).

We presented Connie with a photo of Spring Creek Basin mustangs and a letter from our Disappointment Valley Mustangs group (which includes Pat and Frank Amthor, David and Nancy Holmes, and Kathryn Wilder, in addition to me and Tif) in appreciation for her years of service – specifically here and especially for our mustangs. While we chatted, she reminded us that she said 11 years ago at the roundup that she didn’t ever want to do that again in Spring Creek Basin. And because of her 100 percent support of the PZP fertility-control program in the basin, we haven’t.

In the photo above, from right to left: Joe Manning, Connie Clementson, yours truly, Tif Rodriguez and Daniel Chavez.

We’re so grateful for Connie’s leadership and partnership these many years, and we wish all the best to Connie (and her family) during her well-earned retirement!





Happiness is …

27 08 2022

I’m not normally a person given to repeating quotes, but I saw this one the other day, and it resonated with me deeply:

“The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.” Attributed to Joseph Addison.

For me, happiness centers around mustangs, in particular, the mustangs of Spring Creek Basin and Disappointment Valley. They give me so much more than mere happiness. 🙂





Full to the brim

22 08 2022

Have I mentioned the recent GREEN in Spring Creek Basin? Yes? Oh, good. … ‘Cuz it’s there. 🙂

Along with a little of this:

Two perspectives of Spring Creek, flowing with rainwater, the day before yesterday. The first image is directly as the road crosses the creekbed/arroyo; the second is just to the right – water flowing toward us. Interestingly, the road was dry to this point, but clearly it had rained in the northern and eastern (at least) regions of Spring Creek Basin. By this point, the major arroyos of the basin have converged (though there are still some that feed the creek’s westward drainage). The water was neither high (deep) nor terribly fast, but I didn’t cross. There are times to respect Mother Nature’s obstacles, and I deemed this to be one of those times.

Also a good bit of this:

This is the pond near the hill we call Flat Top. It’s rare to see it so full of water that it backs up so far to the right.

And this is the east-pocket pond, way back in the far eastern region of Spring Creek Basin, also full to the gills.

The pond pix were taken the day before those of Spring Creek running, which was the day after I got soaked going into the basin and getting caught in a lovely little drenching that did NOT go ’round. 😉

All the ponds are so excellently full; the above two are just examples.

So grateful. So very, very grateful.





A little bit of perfection

20 08 2022

Bands taking advantage of good grass and good, clean water at Spring Creek Basin’s main/original water catchment (tank at far left, trough just a bit to the right of it).

This is looking basically northwest … rain falling over Utah’s La Sal Mountains and monsoon clouds shading part of lower Disappointment Valley. There’s a hint of green in them thar hills … and for that, we are grateful beyond words.





Just a sliver of bright

24 07 2022

At least somebody’s getting rain. 🙂 Our forecast perks up with moisture in another couple of days, but we wouldn’t mind it sooner than later. Cooler temps ARE much appreciated.





All in the family

17 07 2022

When I first saw the pronghorns as I was heading out of Spring Creek Basin, post-sunset under clouds (before I got my camera yanked out of my backpack and brought to bear at eye level and before this photo), I thought the doe shepherding three littles ahead of her had triplet fawns.

Then I realized that there was at least another doe with the group (in addition to the buck I also initially saw).

But I do think at least two of the little critters were twins.

Not sure he’s daddy, but he *was* protective of his little family.

Another beautiful end to another beautiful day in Spring Creek Basin, Disappointment Valley, Western Slope, Colorado, America, planet Earth. 🙂 (And as if this weren’t enough, two bands of mustangs were very nearby.)





The relief of full ponds in droughty desert

9 07 2022

A visual selection of newly full ponds in Spring Creek Basin:

Courtesy of Mother Nature! We’re grateful. 🙂





We have water!

8 07 2022

When we get enough rain to fill roadside ditches (which is infrequent to rarely occurring), the frogs/toads start singing! I’ll be the first to admit that I know *nothing* about frogs and/or toads, including how to tell which is which. I think these probably are toads. …

Ah, scratch that. Now I think they might be a variety of “spadefoot” (is that a toad or a frog? apparently, it’s something else altogether). One of the characteristics is “a vertical pupil like a snake, while toads have horizontal pupils.” Very clearly, the critters I saw have very vertical pupils, though the pix I saw showed them rather round (!). Also, “their skin is much smoother and has very few or no warts.” And “their back feet have bony, sharp spades that are used for burrowing into soil, sand, or loose gravel.” I couldn’t see their feet very well – they were in a nice bit of water that must have seemed extravagant to them – but surely they ought to be able to burrow into something during the (mostly) dry times that we (mostly) have? This is the website where I found the above information, and I think they might be Mexican spadefoot.

These two were feeling amorous. 🙂

Those eyes!!

It’s pretty nice to have water around again. 🙂





Marvelous mustang merit!

27 06 2022

Ginormous congratulations to Kathryn Wilder for the win of “Desert Chrome” in the creative nonfiction category of the Colorado Book Awards!!!

From Torrey House Press:

Kathryn Wilder’s personal story of grief, motherhood, and return to the desert entwines with the story of America’s mustangs as Wilder makes a home on the Colorado Plateau, her property bordering a mustang herd. Desert Chrome illuminates these controversial creatures—their complex history in the Americas, their powerful presence on the landscape, and ways to help both horses and habitats stay wild in the arid West—and celebrates the animal nature in us all.

“Testimony to the healing power of wildness . . . a candid memoir that interweaves a trajectory of loss, pain, and hard-won serenity with a paean to wild horses.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS

Give it a read. You won’t be *disappointed*! 🙂





Fat little grandfather

23 06 2022

This may have been the healthiest horny toad I’ve ever seen. S/he’s a big granddaddy/mama; I think his/her body would almost have filled the palm of my hand.

Look at that belly! And that tongue!

This is a wonderful Navajo legend about the relationship between the Diné and horned lizards.

This link talks about the symbolism of horned lizards. According to the site, “Na’ashǫ́’ii dich’ízhii (horned toad) is called Cheii (Grandfather) by the Diné (Navajo). Grandfather Horned Toad possesses great spiritual power that enabled him to triumph in a contest with lightning, an incredibly powerful force. The Diné use his songs and prayer for protection from the dangers of the world and the evil intentions of other people.”

And we can all use songs and prayers for protection from the dangers of the world and the evil intentions of other people, eh? 🙂 I didn’t have even a sprinkle of corn pollen or any other offering, but I did endeavor to protect the critter from stout hooves as s/he scuttled between sagebrush.

Who couldn’t love that face!?