Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pipeline Trek finale on Saturday

With only 40 miles left to go, Scott and I can almost taste the Trek's finish line...the Washington/Iron County border. We're really excited (and slightly afraid) about the footage and photos that photojournalist/videographer Blake Gordon has captured since our hiking/biking trek began at Glen Canyon Dam last Friday. Hopefully he'll edit out the embarrasing parts and focus on the stunning action footage he captured while riding along side us on his own bike (shall we say "dangerously") while also holding a special tripod with the video camera only inches away from the ground (and our bikes).

This exciting footage will be shown at the Trek finale on Saturday, Sept. 20th, along with beautiful images of rarely-seen places along the proposed Pipeline route and thought-provoking interviews with some real characters we've encountered along the way. The interviewes are from all sides of the Pipeline issue. The documentary is anything but one-sided, but it will also be a "rough cut" since Blake will have less than two days to edit and produce it.

You can see the documentary at the Gardner Center at Dixie State College on Saturday. The two screenings will begin at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday and the event will give you an opportunity to show support for the Lin Alder campaign.

Tuesday's adventures actually began on Monday night at the Honeymoon Trail atop the Hurricane Cliffs after the crowd dissipated following the Alan Gardner/Lin Alder "debate." (The Spectrum story can be seen at:
www.thespectrum.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008809160329 ).

Almost immediately, a steady 25 to 30 mile wind picked up. The obnoxious gusts kept going into the morning even as Scott and I headed down the 1,200 foot Honeymoon Trail descent at 9 a.m.

The wind made it hard to sleep, but by the time sunrise came, I knew for a fact that Washington County has ample resources for a commercial wind farm...if only in a few places. The Black Ridge has long been an obvious spot, but now the Hurricane Cliffs are on my list of places to study for wind power. As a County Commissioner, I would gladly work to encourage the development of wind as well as our more abundant renewable energy source--solar.

Once Scott and I finished the white knuckle descent down the Honeymoon Trail by bike, we experienced our first equipment failure. Flat tire. The rear tire on my bike.

Scott graciously suggested that I ride ahead on his bike to hail our support truck by walkie talkie. I pedaled hard but never reached the truck--their radio had dead batteries. In this absence of radio contact, it seemed best for me to pedal the 8 to 10 miles to Sand Hollow Reservoir so our invited experts on the nasty invasive quagga mussels could begin their presentations on time at 1 p.m.

Everything turned out well and we learned that Utah's water officials are expecting Sand Hollow to become infested with mussels before the Pipeline is completed. It will be a big pain when the mussels show up and start clogging everything they can latch on to. Water officials aren't sure what the answers will be but mussel problems aren't new to America so they're confident solutions will be found. Expensive solutions--engineering and chemical--but solutions nonetheless.

We then pedaled in to Hurricane and made our way to the Town Park to hear Washington County Water Conservancy District Manager Ron Thompson discuss the pipeline with Utah Senate candidate Brooks Pace. Mayor Tom Hirschi moderated the discussion and a big thanks goes to Councilman Darrin Thomas for help with scheduling the event.

The discussion between Pace and Thompson reveals that differing opinions about the Pipeline are less about facts and figures and more about priorities and paradigms. Can Washington County support its future population with local water supplies? Both speakers would say yes, but they differ starkly about the validity of such an effort. Claims that Washington County will dry up and blow away without the Pipeline are countered with claims that the Pipeline would lead to the kind of community that most current residents would want to flee. Most of the comments and questions from the audience--particularly the "old timers"--suggested that the majority that night side with the latter viewpoint.

Lots of numbers were bantered about but perhaps the clearest distinction between the two speakers is the difference in paradigms regarding a citizen vote. Pace believes that the project cannot legitimately be built without a vote by those who would pay; Thompson suggests that the vote has already been cast by citizens whose elected officials mostly support the Pipeline.

The lively exchange between Pace and Thompson is exactly why Scott and I launched this trek. When asked what he wanted to add to this blog post, Scott simply said "It has been informative to listen to the people and see the places that would be affected by this project."

So, off we go to get more informed. Tonight's event (Wednesday, Sept. 17th) will be historian and former Dixie State College President Doug Alder speaking as LDS pioneer and southern Utah leader Erastus Snow. Alder will discuss the pioneer value of "Living Within One's Means" and its relation to our water future at the Anderson Junction Dance Shell at 6:30 p.m. (The Dance Shell is at the northeast section of the Toquerville exit off I-15). Doug also happens to be my Dad.

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