Friday, September 12, 2008

Wow, it's a LONG way...

Today Scott Hirschi and I logged 55 (!) miles on our bikes from Page, Arizona to a spot near Kanab where we'll start a 16+ mile hike tomorrow. Scott said it best after the ride today: "Lin, it is a LONG way from Lake Powell and we're not that far along the route."

I have to agree and must admit that I'm very, very tired at the moment. We had a great visit from reporters with The Spectrum and KCSG-TV at Church Wells. Jon Andrews, the Deputy Director at Utah's School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), was on hand to discuss the pros and cons of developing a community on SITLA land near Big Water and storing portions of Utah's Colorado River water share underground. He offered a very balanced view in support of increasing earnings from SITLA's 55,000 acre Big Water property while also protecting SITLA's assets in Washington County.

An insightful paper from Dixie State College geology professor Gerry Bryant was read to the small gathering of people at Church Wells. His assessment of the possibility for aquifer storage called for more detailed studies.

Later, after riding to the Cockscomb near the Paria River, Allysia Angus, Landscape Planner for the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument reviewed the systematic processes used to determine which visual impacts of the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline would be allowed in the Monument and which would not.

Kanab businesswoman Susan Hand also offered a passionate explanation of why visual impacts are just one of the reasons she opposes the Pipeline. She points out that there is no "door" that can close a community to newcomers as some "old timers" say newcomers are prone to do. The Pipeline does not represent a door. It would actually be a conveyor belt that would force communities to draw in new residents in order to pay the exorbitant cost of the proposed project.

Scott was a major trooper today. His first-ever time on a road bike turned into a 55 mile slog. He'll be sore tomorrow but ready, as always, for another adventure.

We owe a big thank you to Dave Poffenberger, our support vehicle driver and fantastic cook, as well as Blake Gordon, a good-natured photojournalist/videographer who is producing a documentary of the trek. Dave and Blake helped out a bunch and even performed a miracle by locating Blake's cell phone after it disappeared in the Glen Canyon Dam parking lot and was run over by a car.

More adventures tomorrow!

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