Alone in a New World With Vast Open Space, and Sheep – The New York Times

“ENGINEER PASS, Colo. — The baas, bleats and bells were fading ever so slightly, and the shepherd’s trained ear detected that his flock was veering off the path home, for this was the soundtrack of his life in the Rocky Mountains. “The sheep must be herded,” he said in Spanish, as he quickly ascended a hill overlooking a meadow.

Then the herder, Ricardo Mendoza, whistled loudly, commanding his two dogs to coax his 1,700 sheep closer to his campito, a tiny shed with a single sun-bleached word — “HOME” — over the door. His employer had hauled it up a winding, unpaved road used by 19th-century miners to this 13,000-foot pass shortly before Mr. Mendoza arrived with his horse, pack mule, dogs and sheep, ready to settle into the last outpost of his seasonal nomadic journey, about 65 miles north of Durango in western Colorado.

Mr. Mendoza, 46, has spent most of the past decade living in these rugged, remote mountains, herding sheep raised for wool and meat from spring to fall. “You live in complete solitude, just you, your animals and your thoughts,” he said, gazing at the windswept tundra below the soaring Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn peaks.”

David Lindsay: Good article, and comments. Here is one I liked:

Kevin Ott
Crested Butte, COSept. 23

This is a nice article romanticizing the grazing of domestic sheep high in the subalpine tundras of the American West. Just weeks ago, we backpacked across this exact area of the Uncompahgre Wilderness NE of Engineer Pass. Wilderness is no place for commercial animal grazing for any number of reasons. What the article did not mention are the demonstrable negative impacts of overgrazing and erosion caused by the grazing of large herds (hundreds to thousands) of domestic sheep in this delicate high elevation (12,000’ ) environment. This is Wilderness, or was. Also not mentioned is the very real impact on native Rocky Mountain Bighorns who populate these craggy locales. Domestic sheep transmit an ovine pneumonia (mycoplasma ovipneumonia) to the Bighorn population which is decimating Bighorn herds in the Rocky Mountain West. Keeping domestic sheep long distances away from the Bighorn herds is the only way to protect these dwindling, ever more isolated, majestic wild animal herds.

2 Replies75 Recommended

Daniel Rothberg | The Coming Crisis Along the Colorado River – The New York Times

Mr. Rothberg is a reporter for The Nevada Independent, where he covers the environment, water and energy. He is writing a book about water scarcity in Nevada.

“It’s past time to get real about the Southwest’s hardest-working river.

About 40 million people rely on the Colorado River as it flows from Colorado to Mexico. But overuse and climate change have contributed to its reservoirs drying up at such a rapid rate that the probability of disastrous disruptions to the deliveries of water and hydroelectric power across the Southwest have become increasingly likely. Now the seven states that depend on the river must negotiate major cuts in water use by mid-August or have them imposed by the federal government.

Those cuts are merely the beginning as the region struggles to adapt to an increasingly arid West. The rules for operating the river’s shrinking reservoirs expire in 2026, and those seven states must forge a new agreement on water use for farmers, businesses and cities.”

Paul Krugman | What a Dying Lake Says About the Future – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“A few days ago The Times published a report on the drying up of the Great Salt Lake, a story I’m ashamed to admit had flown under my personal radar. We’re not talking about a hypothetical event in the distant future: The lake has already lost two-thirds of its surface area, and ecological disasters — salinity rising to the point where wildlife dies off, occasional poisonous dust storms sweeping through a metropolitan area of 2.5 million people — seem imminent.

As an aside, I was a bit surprised that the article didn’t mention the obvious parallels with the Aral Sea, a huge lake that the Soviet Union had managed to turn into a toxic desert.

In any case, what’s happening to the Great Salt Lake is pretty bad. But what I found really scary about the report is what the lack of an effective response to the lake’s crisis says about our ability to respond to the larger, indeed existential threat of climate change.”