Colorado

Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge With Lauren Steele of Motherboard

Hey everyone, Doug Stetzer here. Thanks for tuning into Colorado.FM the Colorado podcast.

So I’ve spoken a lot about how this project has already taken me down paths that I couldn’t foresee and this is another one of those kinds of episodes. It all started when I received an email from Vice Media. Yes the Vice Media found the podcast and reached out to us, and you content creators out there would know that that was a pretty exciting moment.

But what does that have to do with Colorado?

Well, Vice has sponsored an article by freelance writer Lauren Steele titled “Reclaimed Land: Inside Colorado’s Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge a former Superfund site that embodies the painful past an uncertain future of nuclear cleanup in America.”

Now most people here in the Denver Boulder area know all about Rocky Flats, but in case you’re not familiar, Rocky Flats is a superfund site located pretty much within eyesight of these two major metropolitan areas where during the Cold War plutonium triggers among other things were made for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Unfortunately, and I think you can see where this is going, let’s just say the waste was handled inappropriately.  I’ll leave the details for Lauren and her really amazing article.  But be warned you’re going to get angry it’s just really maddening.

Now despite this history and a half life of plutonium of 25000 years or so the area around Rocky Flats is already being redeveloped. Those of us who drive down Colorado 93 are on our way to Denver or shoot out to 70 are familiar with the Candelas housing development that’s right there. Additionally over 5000 acres of Rocky Flats is about to be reopened to recreation under the supervision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

So is a former Superfund site ever really clean and is the government data trustworthy?

As far as the safety of living conditions in the area there are two sides to this story and I think Lauren does a really great job of making sure that they’re both represented. I also really want to give kudos to Vice Media for sponsoring this type of long form investigative journalism in our world of 140 character tweets and 30 second videos. This article really stood out.

About Lauren Steele.

Lauren is a freelance journalist who has contributed to publications such as Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, Outside Magazine, Men’s Fitness and more.

he has held the title of director of toughness for Columbia Sportswear and aside from writing this article that is relevant to all of us in Colorado. When she’s not traveling for work she spends a lot of time specially in the summers here in Carbondale area training for ultra-marathons and things like that.

And this actually is where she stumbled upon this story which is no she gets into which is a cool story in and of itself. Online you can find Vice Media at vice.com and on Instagram and Facebook also @vice.

And of course we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find vice, Lauren’s writing or anything else we mention in the show.

So here we go. My conversation with Lauren Steele, contributing journalist to Vice Media.

 


Show Notes

[02:30] Who is Lauren Steele and what led to this story?

[08:30] Rocky Flats will be a place to play.  Should it be?

[11:35] Why push this on US Fish and Wildlife Service?

[19:00] Description of Rocky Flats; What is the Central Operable Unit.

[24:30] Touring the area; A sneak peek.

[30:00] Making choices – Why save this site instead of something pristine?

[35:30] Conversations with people in the area – what that reveals.

[41:00] Site meets current standards, but standards change over time.

[43:20] What would you ask Dominick Sanchini?

[41:00] What’s next for Lauren.

 


Relevant Links

Reclaimed Land:  Inside Colorado’s Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, a former Superfund site that embodies the painful past and uncertain future of nuclear cleanup in America.  – Vice Motherboard

Vice Motherboard

Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge – US Fish & Wildlife Service

Dept. of Energy Office of Legacy Management

EPA Superfund Record of Decision

CaldelasLife.com

CandelasConcerns.com

Carbondale, CO

 


Transcript

 

Hey Lauren. You know I really appreciate you taking the time to join us on this show and you know reach out and to talk about this amazing story that you did.

Why don’t you tell us a little bit about this article. It is called Reclaim Land. It’s on Vices Motherboard and it’s you know the subtitle is Inside Colorado’s Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

Now this really hits home. I’m in Boulder. It’s right down the road. And when I moved here people told me about that very casually. Oh yeah that place over there used to be a toll toxic waste dump. So you know what I’m really curious about is is this what led you to this story what you know were you assigned this story or did you teach it. Did you seek it out. Like what. You know it really brought your attention to Rocky Flats?.

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So the genesis of a story is usually a very interesting one.

I’m freelance reporter so I am constantly seeking out things that interest me and I also happen to be a very active outdoors person and I usually come out to Colorado specifically Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley area to train during the summers for ultra-marathons and different races but I’m doing throughout the year.

I have just fallen in love with the valley and this area and wherever I’m traveling rather I’m going just because I happen to be and insatiably curious person. I always tap into the local news and like all refresh the local page on my phone for news and kind of read bulletin board the coffee shop and see what’s going on because you never know what you’re going to find out and you never know what is going to come across.

And actually while I was here last summer it was and was actually in late June I found a news story about a new lawsuit I come home about this Rocky Flats place.

I had never heard of Rocky Flats. I live in York City. I grew up in rural Missouri. And Rocky Flats was meaningless to me. But there was the headline from my local Denver outlet and it was talking about this huge lawsuit about this nuclear waste land. And this former Superfund site. And the fact that it was becoming a national wildlife refuge.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

How can some place that used to have plutonium on it be a national wildlife refuge especially in Colorado especially in Boulder?

I have a lot of friends.  I very much know the community there and the values that they hold in the belief system there. And so I was intrigued from the very get go are diving in a little bit more about it that a lot of google searching. Like I think that there’s something more here. I don’t know what it is. I don’t even know what a Superfund site is. But there’s something here and I’m curious. I’m curious and I am kind of afraid and I’m kind of just completely swept off my feet by this and I know other people will be too. And that’s usually the guiding light for me with stories as if this is intriguing to me if this is mysterious to me.

This is like inflaming some sort of passion in me that I know that it will mean something to other people.  And just like keeping that human thread running through stories like whether they’re environmental or they’re you know athletically driven or whatever. Whenever I’m working on, if it makes me curious and I’m like there’s something here that when I heard of Rocky Flats I was always like wow.

After a quick google search I realized that there were there was really no national coverage of Rocky Flats, which is also shocking to me especially with like the state of our current political climate regarding the EPA.

How can we just be ignoring on such a national level?

With funding being cut and all the Superfund sites after Hurricane Harvey leaking and not getting the funding that they need. How can we just be ignoring on such a national level?

These places that could cause huge issues for decades or centuries to come we don’t really know. So for me like thank god my love for Colorado and the Roaring Fork Valley and running and being in these mountains and just playing out here actually led me to the story. Which is a really intriguing angle because you know the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge is going to be a place where people can play and run and bike and all these things.

Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge is going to be a place where people can play and run and bike and all these things. But should it be?

But should it be. And those are the especially whenever we have all this land out here to enjoy. And that was kind of the thing that piqued my interest the most was like in this place that I love so much and have given so much to me as an athlete and outdoors person.

How can our wild lands and our public lands, the kind of give us our human rights, you know it’s like there’s all this contention around being there and publicly and in general and it’s like what about when the land isn’t serving the public well what when public lands are hurting the public and why are we trying to protect the land that could help the public.

So those kinds of questions are really what led me to writing the story into really pursuing it and it was actually after a few days of going over who I should bring the story to who would be the best fit. I actually had taken it to a different publication prior but they didn’t want to run it as a feature and I didn’t want anybody to have to google Rocky Flats like I did after reading my story.

I wanted to really talk about the issues here and really talk about the issues on a national scale not just on the Colorado scale because Rocky Flats has been a huge source of contention in the Denver metro area for decades. And I wanted to talk about that for everybody in this country and how it affects all of us. So I finally ended up selling the story to Vice motherboard.

And in September and they were full throttle, let’s do this let’s make it happen in as many words that it need to tell a story less inform people, and I am beyond privilege that I had an editorial team in a publication that was so supportive of us telling the story as thoroughly as we could.

Right. Well you know as you know there’s a lot of things in there that are super interesting. First one when I got the e-mail from you guys about you covering the story and talking to you. You know I was wondering what your angle might have been on that. So it’s really interesting to hear that you spend so much time out in Colorado and it was really a personal find for you.

And there was a couple of things that I was thinking when you said that that that triggered some thoughts my mind.  First of all, I live right here and I didn’t know that this park was opening up in the next year. It’s just kind of taken for granted story like everyone kind of knows about it. But like you said there’s not a whole lot of coverage and conversation about what’s going on over there probably because it’s been like that for so long.

You know and in your story you see how some of the most active opponents of opening up this refuge and everything like that you know they’ve been at it for decades so I can only imagine the energy that is as taken to just kind of maintain that fire, right. So that just came across as really interesting.

And then you know the other thing about this idea that it really does affect everybody and not just people in Denver because of not just the site. And you know what might happen environmentally but because of how it reflects on the process what’s going on with the Superfund program. Who are these sites are getting dumped on. You know your article really was super informative and like you said I mean these long form articles are kind of a rarity these days as you know really special for Vice to just encourage that because you know.

I just thought it was amazing. And so you know one of the things speaking of that process is how these sites. You know I’m speaking of the budgetary process and everything like that so Superfund itself is being defunded and then they’re pushing these sites on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And when you hear that you’re just like well how does that make any sense. And then of course I mean there is not one park type service. You know a Department of Interior group that’s not just being axed as far as budget. So how are you. You know how are they defining superfund and then pushing it to the Fish and Wildlife Service that just blew my mind.

Yeah yeah. So kind of jumping and right there I mean that is the meat of the story. And I think that’s the meat of a problem. And because the story I wrote it not to talk about the controversy of the site. I wasn’t trying to say the government strong activists arrived the activists are right. The government is wrong.

There has been such a state of contention around who’s right and who’s wrong for so many decades with the story and the way I saw it is that the only reason that there there is controversy is because there’s bureaucratic red tape. You know I don’t want to talk about this controversy I want to talk about the bureaucratic red tape that causes controversy at all Superfund sites.

But my mission with the story and the coverage is to make Rocky Flats a microcosmic example of a larger issue that we have nationally because what’s going on there is going on and a lot of other places and we need to reignite the passion about you know asking for answers having definitive information having these safety standards that mean something to people you know you’re kind of going back to just the U.S. Fish and Wildlife sampling of all of this.

It’s incredibly, incredibly astonishing to me that a sector of the Department of Interior whose actual mission statement reads and I’m reading quote unquote their mission statement.

“Our mission is to work with others to conserve protect and enhance wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”

That is a mission statement of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. So how can the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency say you know what a former Superfund site a site that is absolutely needing an imperative imperatively seeking continuing remediation and treatment for nuclear and radioactive contamination. Yeah that goes you guys. You guys know what to do with you know deer and prairie dogs and I think there are some deer prairie dogs here so take care of it.

We’ve already cleaned it up that mindset.

I mean everybody’s of law and that’s the issue here is the Department of Energy doesn’t want to have to deal with grasslands and the EPA is getting their funds cut. Day after day and the Department of Energy doesn’t want to have to deal with grasslands.

And then there’s the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and they’re forced to put on a good face and say we’re taking care of this. We are monitoring it we’re working on it. And the thing is that they don’t have the tools to deal with land that has been contaminated with radioactive and nuclear waste. And that’s a hard part is that we don’t have a plan that mitigates on a national level these Superfund sites because once they’re cleaned up the EPA kind of dust their hand off and says OK we did our job.

We spend our money we spend our time. But the thing is is this land will never be the same the half life of plutonium 239 which was the most rampant contaminant at Rocky Flats the half life of 24000 years. So no matter which way you like that’s not going to disappear right where the going how are we continuing to monitor it.

Like maybe there maybe there is no plutonium right now at Rocky Flats. But the thing is how do we prove that to the public how can we give them the assurance that it is safe. How can the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service be confident in their testing.

There’s a lot of kind of secular conflict of interest throughout all of this because the EPA is one of the government agencies along with the FBI who initially raided Rocky Flats whenever they were found in you know in the very beginning back and let me see what year it was. I think it was 89 whenever the raid actually happened. They were the ones who raided Rocky Flats and then you guys are doing a lot of stuff that is not OK. You’re dumping plutonium you’re spraying radioactive waste unpeeled there is toxic waste being dumped into water drainage is like this isn’t OK.

And then later on the Department of Energy is the one who’s tasked with running the central operable unit now and the EPA is the one tasked with testing the central operable unit. And there is no independent testing happening at any Superfund sites across the country right now. And I think that’s definitely something that citizens and people and government officials should be questioning of every single agency that was allowed to test Superfund sites and residually monitor them after their deemed clean has to be certified by the EPA.

And I and that’s not independent testing that’s not conflict of interest free. You know the houses. How can we prove that the system is good enough to protect us. Because the fact of the matter is plutonium of their radioactive waste hasn’t spelt and it’s not going anywhere. So how can we be sure that it’s safe. How can we be sure that the process is working great.

And just to kind of back up and clarify in case people haven’t really read the whole article one of the things that really makes you think about what’s going on out there is this central operable unit the structure of it.

 

And so why don’t you kind of explain a little bit about what that is inside the refuge for people who haven’t read the article yet.

Right. So Rocky Flats excuse me Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge is a newly designated wildlife refuge that’s opening in June 2018 so set to open next summer to the public.

It is over 5000 acres of public recreational land. It is also the site of a former plutonium and nuclear weapons production facility and one of the biggest in the U.S. ever.

Rocky Flats had a hand in producing at least one component of all 70000 nuclear weapons that have ever been produced in the United States.

So it was running full throttle during the Cold War and after it was closed down due to an FBI and EPA raid it was people can start to discover how bad it really was and the place where it was the worst is at the very center of this actual site.

Now so that entire site is a little over 6000 acres. The acreage of the part is going to be open to the public at a little over 5000. But that leaves 1000 acres still not going to be open to the public and that is known as the central operable unit.

So that is the area of the site where the main production facility was and still is. And that’s a very shocking realization to people is all of the foundational structure of the original production facility is buried the concrete foundation is buried right now underneath the central operable unit. And that was the site of the most contaminated areas Rocky Flats where it was in production.

So during the time of production and shortly after closing the EPA and now Rocky Flats was home to five of the 10 most contaminated buildings in America. This is not a thing to really be proud of and that those buildings and their foundations are still buried underneath that site and are required to continually be monitored for the next half century.  So that central operable unit as it’s now known is fenced off. Locals like to call it the doughnut hole doughnut hole in the middle of it is going to be off limits to the public.

Nobody’s going to be allowed to say that it’s still being monitored and that is the only area of the entire site that right now is still owned by the Department of Energy because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can not monitor and cannot operate something that still has unsafe levels of contamination and a need for continued monitoring treatment.

So huge question there is if there is still a 1000 acre area of the site that people cannot be on then why can they be on the rest of the 5000 acres.

One great quote from this story.

One of one of the most vigorous activists in this entire process for the past 35 years is Paula Alaafin guardian and she’s kind of been leading the charge for quite some time now she’s been on this since the Sunday she grew up in an armada. And she looked at me one day and she just goes you know plutonium doesn’t care about fantasy.

And we like to believe that if the government tells us that something is safe that it is but nuclear production is only 65 years old and these contaminants have a half life of 24000 years old 24000 years excuse me.

And so it’s just this idea that how can we be sure that this is safe. We haven’t even had enough time to figure out that it’s not it’s only 65 years old. So what about the next 50 years. What about the next hundred years what about the next 200. So why choose to have people on this say whenever there is a large swath of land that is still incredibly unsafe for people to be on like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service isn’t even allowed to be honest and proper operable unit.

So it’s just those kinds of questions that poke their head and say you know is this may not be wrong. This may not be illegal because it’s all falling within the standards of the government that the EPA has said that the Department of Energy has said. And just because it’s not illegal doesn’t mean that it’s right.

Right. Well and also it raises the question you know right now 50 years away seems like a long time. What happens if 50 years if they just go in there they pull that fence out and then the lines blurred even more. than we still really know very well was for a long time frame of what any repercussions might be.

Right. And your memories were kind of short. So it’s. Just you know really interesting that definitely stood out now. Now you had a chance actually to go into their refuge with the U.S. most of us guys and trying to tour it ahead of time I guess you’ve had the early preview so.

An Early Look At Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge

So what did it feel like to kind of walk around next that that fence I mean was it kind of eerie was it you know of any new toes started on your feet since you visited it?

When I was going near the site I was actually with my dear friend and a photographer for the project Forest Woodward who is beyond qualified to be asking questions and telling these environmental stories and these large scale stories.

We had a mini van during our time here while we were reporting and we were sitting in his minivan getting ready to drive to the site of a bike. So you think this is going to be OK. And you obviously have reservations –  like plutonium is scary and cancer is scary and the idea that may be unsafe is really scary.

But there are these men and women working there every single day. There are these people that are living there every single day.

And so there’s just a very desperate like attitude toward how you should feel about that land. And I’m we’re like an outsider you know I was flying in from New York City.

I obviously had researched the heck out of all of this. But I don’t have this childhood history of being told that this place is unsafe and will give me cancer. I also don’t have this experience of seeing a sick by being deemed clean and being so proud of the work that’s been done and excited about the opportunity to share it with other people.

No those are the two attitudes that are being directly applied to the opening of the site. So I just try I I as a reporter and as a conveyor of information I will going in here to be like let’s see what happens. I am I want to tell a story about my ability. I want to ask questions. I want to find out information. I want to hear what the to say like I’m not the expert here. I never have been.

I never will be but my my strength and my skills for this story really live and the ability to be curious and just to listen and to convey all the information to the best of my ability. And so while we are in there you know like I’m with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guys and I’m with David Abel and who is the head of the Rocky Fire Stewardship Council and these are people who are so proud of what’s going on here and are excited about the opening and have really like pioneered and championed the opening of this place.

And talking to them and seeing them come upon the site you know you kind of have a hard time not allowing for that.

But at the same time they’re sitting here saying you know we are scared for the next year that we don’t know what the next hundred years will be like and that was my final question to able and was you know what.

What is your biggest regret with Rocky if you like what is your biggest fear. Where with Rocky Flats. And he said not knowing what’s going to happen in 100 years. And and that’s that’s something that no matter how you feel about the site today that doesn’t give you a great feeling about tomorrow because we can’t answer those questions. We literally don’t know because like I said earlier please.

Nuclear development is a new thing worldwide and I think we need it instead of questioning what’s happened that day we really do need to focus on tomorrow and the next day and the next and next year and next century because nuclear isn’t going away. Obviously we see the headlines every single day about North Korea, and Donald Trump and all this scary stuff.

Superfund site than the EPA and budget cuts and all these things.

Whether you’re in Colorado or you’re in Missouri or you’re in New York or you’re in Washington say all of these places have Superfund sites.

This is something that’s affecting everybody like. And we need to be aware there are you know over there right now there are over thirteen hundred Superfund sites on a national priority list of all across our backyard of the country and we’re probably coming into contact more often than we even know. And for me walking on that land and like driving through it and being around it like it doesn’t look special.

And sorry for all you front rangers out there, gorgeous but the plains are the plains. You know Colorado have the Rocky Mountains and have just gorgeous terrain all the way across the state but probably the least impressive part of the entire state is the plains.

And that’s where Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge is. It’s 5000 acres of Great Plains sandwiched in between Denver and Boulder.

And so after we left that night for the photographer and I we were on a run in Boulder on one of the trails and as we were running along he jumped at me. He called behind himself and asked me, “why out of all the land in Colorado are they trying to save this for recreation. This place that’s flat that’s nearly urban.”

You can see Denver and you can see boulder from sight. So why. Why funnel your U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service money and budget into this place. And I think those are the great questions like What land are we trying to save here. You know what land are we trying to maintain and advocate for.

You know the former Superfund sites are not pristine in any way shape or form like that that’s not I mean that can be argued.

So why are we trying to save the land that is tainted.

It’s like a piece of paper. You know you can. You can take a piece of paper and the minute that I get crumpled the minute that I get crazy you can never take that creep. You can still write a story on it but that paper is never going to be perfect again. So why are we trying to write a beautiful story on a piece of crumpled paper.

That kind of attitude I took towards is what is the point of making U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service answer to that. This piece of paper that the Department of Energy crumbled. And so I think that question that we need to be answering and acting right now and the hard part is that there are no answers because there is no there is no agency within the Department of Energy that or the Department of Interior that is specifically tasked with maintenance of former Superfund site.

So there’s no actual plan on how to maintain the site once they’re deemed clean. But the fact is is that are they ever really clean. They may be more safe to be on but are they ever clean. And I think that’s the question that Rocky Flats has presented. Better than any other city in America. And I think that’s what really drew me to it and I think that that’s what’s going to continue to allow rocky but to be an example or even like an anti example of how we need to approach that because like I said earlier nuclear isn’t going anywhere.

So how can we how can we handle that process from a to z as a country?

Yeah like you’re saying and there the option there is just why didn’t they just put a fence around all 5000 acres and be done with it. Right. And they can monitor the whole area and give you another forest service or fish and wildlife. Just keep working on either new land or whatever are already huge portfolio of stuff is that they can barely cover.

You know I think the answer there and like the really hard part is it’s money like they answer there is money.

So why would you and the government agency that getting funds cut every single year. Why would you send something off and have to spend the money to monitor it whenever it’s not bringing you any money whenever you can open up the public and have recreation fees and bring more.

Urban center and urban commercialism to the area because of its faith that people can be on it and they can build around it in the community. They knew that it increased the land value of the houses that are being built around it and in turn the houses that are being built around it increased the value of that national wildlife refuge because it is the only land that isn’t commercialized in that area.

So it’s you know hate it or love it money really is the answer here.

And it’s how we kind of use money in the right way and ask the right questions that I can be allotted and the correct way. But you know whenever we prioritize money which as a country we obviously do whenever you prioritize them and do what is most monetarily beneficial and putting a fence around it especially when the EPA and the DOJ tells you it’s safe putting up and saying I am going to cost them money.

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service but you know we’re just not sure where it is going to slash our money down the toilet. And and do do some testing every year and kids keep not getting anything back for them. They’re not going to do that whenever they campaigned over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife arrest. And this is clean because they tell us it is. So we’re going to make the money because we’re not going to slash our budget down the drain here. And that’s a really hard position to be in.

And it is in. But at the same time your economic benefit you also comes from people’s willingness to you know accept what you know they’re being told as far as being safe and everything like that.

And so you know like you mentioned that when you went into this article that there are two sides to this story including you know that the people who have cleaned it up are the people who are monitoring the land and the people who have chosen to live right there and say look I’ve got this amazing space in my backyard you know I’m I’m comfortable with what I’m being told and being presented and the evidence that’s being brought forth and I’m comfortable living here. And you did.

You make sure you spoke to those people as well which is you agree for the article. What was it like to you. You have those conversations with people where did they feel the need to lie, were they defense were they you were they just like look you know we’re being told it’s safe and you know so I’m here.

Yeah. So. That’s a really great question and kind of pulling the lens back in a little bit like I went to the University of Missouri School of Journalism and I am very proud of the education that I received there and my characteristics and the skills that they taught me when being a reporter.

The thing is that I knew I had to talk to everybody. I knew I had to talk to people who are opening it, I needed to talk to people who are protesting, if I knew to people who are living on the other side of the fence of the Rocky Flats. I knew that as government officials I needed to talk to whoever I could to get any information that was available. And my job really is to listen and everybody we have free will and everybody who is a part of the story has their own story that has led them there and for people who live around the site in the Candelas community.

So there’s a 2000 home suburban development of going up all around Rocky Flats and I was able to speak with Kim Griffiths who has been living in the Calndelas community now for two years and you know Kim has her own story and I know I never come into an interview thinking that I need to lean one way or another.

I’m like hey I’m here to listen. Like why are you here. Do you like your home life. Tell me about your story your past like your experience or at least hear your experience. And then I kind of just shut up and let people talk to me because that’s my job and the talk in a can was so incredibly enlightening because whenever you think about a story like this you don’t really think about the people you think about the people who have been negatively impacted who have gotten sick.

You think about the government you think about protesters don’t really think about the people who are just going about their day to day lives in this environment and can have that voice I’m sorry.

And we’re speaking with her. You know it’s been a very rollercoaster like very much a roller coaster ride for her to be in the Kandos community because at first she wants to live. Kim is a highly educated very smart with smart woman. And while we were talking she had a lot to say and one of the biggest ones she wanted to get across is I’m not misinformed I’m not some government lackey. I’m not I’m not a dumb woman who wanted to live in a big house when I had so much respect flashy.

Absolutely conveyed to me that she felt very informed that the government had been transparent with her that she had signed an affidavit saying I know about the land I’m about to live on.

I’ve been informed that I’m making this choice and I’m making it feel like I’m able to make an educated choice. And she worked and the health field for a very long time. So this is not a woman who doesn’t know the facts of plutonium contamination and radioactive contamination on a human body. So walk with her. I just wanted to hear her speak her speak her piece.

And I think that she honestly believe in what she’s doing actually. Kim recently emailed me to tell me in full transparency that she’s become a member of the board of the Rockies Stewardship Committee. So there’s little woman who really does believe with all her heart that she’s will in the place that she wants to live and she’s got a great set up and she’s excited about the land she lives on.

All that being said she is very much putting her face into the facts and the test x and the testing that is being presented to her from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from the Department of Energy and from the EPA who have you know for decades now been very upfront with providing public information to the testing of the site the levels and the management plans of Rocky Flats.

But you have to look a little bit deeper you know and that’s what I attempted to do is say OK that’s all fair like you feel that it’s safe that you feel out of place based on this fact that was provided to you it’s not just a feeling you have like you have done your research but what is beyond that research and that’s never I started to learn a little bit more about the fact that the standard for the tests have been by the upper and lower limits of these these contaminated levels have been moved by the DOJ and EPA over the years.

You know we have changed as a country are entered for with acceptable contamination as Superfund sites and former Superfund sites. So even though this is testing within safe limits. Now is that really a safe limit. Is that going to be in five years that I can be away from it in 20 years. It’s already been moved around.

We’ve already changed what our standards are because we don’t have all the information about what these contaminants will do over the course of many many years just because we can’t they’re not even that old yet. So I think it’s about allowing people to be informed but allow them to be informed the utmost level and that’s what I was trying to do with my story specifically was like I said earlier not talk about the controversy of a site not talk about who is right or who’s wrong.

But talk about that bureaucratic red tape. The shifting standards the lack of information the information presented why the information presented. Who’s running the show. Who got the money. You know talking about that and allowing ourselves as a country to talk about the larger issue of our management of former Superfund site is a microcosmic example that everybody within Rocky Flats who has experience living on a site working on a site advocating for a site processing site. They all have a vital voice in talking about the larger national conversation of how ship me change this moving forward. Let’s not do Rocky Flats again.

Right. Well you know I think that you know it’s complicated. And the article really shows those you know the various constituents really wealth from from each of their angles and so. You know it’s it’s worth a read. I think you know obviously we’ll put the links to everything in the shown us the podcast where everybody can find your story and everything like that.

One last question.

My last question is you know right at the beginning you mentioned you know so the manager in charge of this facility at the time when it got right in everything was a guy named Dominick Sanchini, who has since passed.

What would you ask that guy if he was still alive when you were able to do this story.

Are you scared of what could happen? I think that’s the only question I have. Because America America as a country we have this rhetoric that has got us through so much as a young country. You know like the American dream the classic rhetoric. It works. We prosper and we’re going to deal with the consequences later.

You know like we’re but we’re going to make it work right now. And I think we just have stamps that onto an issue that we should have never stamp it onto.

Nuclear consequences aren’t consequences that you can deal with later. So prospering now what is that going to mean for every generation after this. This rhetoric does not apply to nuclear waste and contamination. And I think that we just need to flip the script on ourselves and ask these questions.

Now like I’m very much for living in the present. I very much about having a good time and not having to worry. I think that worrying about the future is one of the worst things a person can do honestly like I try not to think about it too much myself but as a government.

You have to look forward and you have to think about the future of your nation. And so I think that like my challenge to Dominick Sanchini and the Department of Energy back in 1989 would have been are you thinking about what is going to happen later. And I want to pose that same question to the government now.

Right. Right. Well you know I think that’s a great place to leave it. And you know I just have to say you know I really appreciate you writing the story and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and experience on you know on investigating this story with my audience. So thank you so much again for being on the podcast. And so so what’s next for you is there. You know you’re you’re spending more time out in Colorado are you still. Are you looking for the next big story or do you know what you’re going with this next.

Yeah. So Colorado man I love you guys stay and surprisingly are not surprisingly enough my summers spent in this beautiful place has morphed into a winter spent in this beautiful place. Surprise. I actually just moved and to a nice little townhouse in Carbondale and I am madly looking forward to spending a season out here in the valley on the slopes skiing in Aspen with all my buddies and just really making the most of it now from a place as far as stories I am always looking for the next thing like Rocky Flats was a very big surprise for me and I’m sure the next story will be a very big surprise.

I think there are a million things happening every single second of every single day that are worthy of a story and if you just listen and pay attention there they are. I think there’s a lot going on in the middle of our country right now.

That’s really worth paying attention to. You know I’m from the Midwest. And what recently sparked my interest is the opiate crisis and the U.S. and it causing orphans and grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.

The financial and economical stress of low income families in the Midwest having to raise their grandchildren. And that’s another big one. But at the same time I’m sitting here you know pitching ideas. All my editors about you know the snow forecast went there.

So I’m all over the place. And that’s what gets me excited. And you know Colorado is a place that excited me for quite some time now so I don’t see that changing and I’m really looking forward to continuing to dive into local news here in the education system and in Colorado is incredible.

You know there are some really amazing education programs right now that are preparing kids for the future in ways that other places across the country are not doing you know in the work field is changing rapidly and more people are working remotely by you. Me. And you know that the skills that we’re going to need in the future as workers and employees are rapidly changing and the schools across the state are focusing on focusing on thinking and emotional intelligence.

And it’s amazing to see you know such a beautiful place creating beautiful people and beautiful mind. And so I’m just super excited to be here and say what kind of stories and the impulse to me and I’m going to do my best to continue listening and watching and paying attention to this place because there’s a lot of amazing and interesting and worthy stuff here obviously.

Well you know I sincerely hope you’ll come back and be on the show again when you find that next one and share it with us.

It’s been such a privilege to talk to you. I’m so excited to be on the show talking about this beautiful place and to have the opportunity to enjoy it from her and I’m really glad that this story has created some conversations.

And I’m so so honored to be able to be a part of this conversation and hopefully we all keep talking about it because I think it’s important stuff. But thank you so much for having me on.

Anytime. All right well thank you very much Lauren and no I hope to talk to you soon.

Alright thanks for listening and I hope you enjoyed this conversation.  As we mentioned in the intro and as always you can find links to any related content in the show notes to this podcast episode.

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Thanks again. I really hope you enjoyed this episode and we will see you next time.

 

 

Lindsay Bourgoine of Protect Our Winters Talks Education and Advocacy

Hey everyone, Doug Stetzer here, and thanks for tuning in to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast.

Well the journey down the climate science wormhole continues.

This episode was again inspired by my earlier conversation with Eric Larsen the polar explorer whose last trip to the North Pole is likely to be the last.

Eric is a member of Protect Our Winters, an environmental activist and awareness organization founded by legendary snowboarder Jeremy Jones.  In fact, when Eric came over to record his podcast, he had literally just returned from a trip to Washington DC with Protect Our Winters where he was rooming with Jeremy as they spent a few days meeting with representatives and talking about climate change.

Of course, all of us who are passionate about our winter sports need to be very concerned with what’s going on relative to the climate, and POW takes a very interesting approach by talking about the financial implications of this change on the outdoor industry, tourism, and livelihoods that are produced by these industries.

Unfortunately, our government really listens better when it comes to talking dollars and cents, so this approach can be effective at opening doors and ears.

So I reached out to POW who recently relocated their headquarters to Boulder, right down the street from me actually, and was able to sit down to talk with Lindsay Bourgoine, their Manager of Advocacy and Campaigns.

Lindsay joined POW in 2016 and has a real solid background in environmental advocacy and conservation.

We get into what inspired Jeremy Jones to start POW, some of their key initiatives and where they are seeing success, upcoming leadership changes, and of course a really amazing story of how Lindsay came to be part of the organization.

Online, you can find POW at protectourwinters.org and on Facebook and Instagram @protectourwinters.

 


Subscribe to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast – on iTunes


Show Notes

[02:45] Visiting the POW offices in Boulder

[03:25] What inspired Jeremy Jones to start Protect Our Winters

[06:00] Aligning with industry; The $887 billion outdoor recreation industry throws its weight

[09:00] After 10 years, what’s working

[11:45]  Politics: A wake up call in 2016 – Colorado votes for new Gov in 2018

[15:40] New Executive Director

[17:00] How Lindsay joined POW (Read: How ski bumming can be good for your career!)

[22:00] Why POW relocated to Boulder

[25:00] Making climate science wonkery accessible

[27:45] Helping people get involved

 


Relevant Links

Protect Our Winters

Jones Snowboards

Eric Larsen

Outdoor Industry Association

Climate Reality Project

Alliance for Climate Education

Appalachian Mountain Club

Jim White – CU Boulder

Luis Benitez

Burton Sustainability

 


Related Episodes

A Life of Adventure and Polar Exploration with Eric Larsen

Jon Miller of Backcountry United Educates About Public Land Access

 


Transcript

 

Lindsay thank you so much for having me over to Protect Our Winters office to do this talk and take a little time to tell us what you’re all about.

Absolutely welcome.

As people are starting to get used to the format that I use I like to ask people at the end of the show who they like to have on the podcast. And you know one of my previous guests Eric Larsen, who had just returned from a Protect Our Winters event or campaign up in D.C. He really kind of turned me on to you guys so I really appreciate that we were able to connect.

Absolutely we’re excited that Eric was on the guest as well as he’s one of our favorite athletes don’t tell the rest of them.

So let’s just talk a little bit I guess historically about Protect Our Winters. Founded in 2007 by Jeremy Jones as many of us know and are fans of. So ten years like ten year anniversary. I know you’ve been here since like 2016 but historically do you know what was kind of in his mind at that time. What was lacking in, you know the kind of the .org world as far as climate change that really made him want to start his own.

Yeah for sure. So Jeremy actually took a trip snowboarding. Obviously that’s what he does and when he came back he was really feeling like he saw a lot of different changes in the mountains. You know whether it’s glacial recession or reduced snowpack and he was really concerned about that as an athlete obviously that’s really changing the game in his sport and changing the lives of many of his friends.

And so when he came back from that trip he really wanted to give a financial donation to an organization that would fight climate change on behalf of outdoor enthusiasts so he did a bunch of research he was online. To make a really long story short he didn’t find one and realized pretty quickly that if you know we needed a single issue organization to represent outdoor enthusiasts and this snow sports industry to fight climate that he was going to have to found one.

So that’s exactly what he did. And you know he worked with our first Executive Director Chris Duncamp to start 501c3 and follows paperworks through the IRS and get everything going and then obviously ten years later we have five full time staff in the offices to Boulder and have a lot of success stories under our belts.

Yeah. So it’s definitely one of those kind of scratch your own itch.

Yes foundation stories exactly like if there isn’t anyone doing this. Yes. I mean has taken on and I really commend him for doing that because I think a lot of professional athletes might just say hey that’s really scary starting a nonprofit or a cause. And you know he just attacked it head on.

Well not all professional athletes also kind of have his business side of his experience and usually that’s where people tend to start getting hung up. Hey let’s do this idea. Oh I have to register with the state. Oh I’ve got to get separate bank accounts. Oh I forgot to do that and the organisational side is what kills you.

The experience running Jones snowboards and having a little experience there as a CEO.

Well that’s interesting. You mentioned there in what I read on the web site about not only just having a desire to find an organization about climate change but about representing the outdoor athlete enthusiasts. You know that’s a really much narrower and a very clear mission statement and having an idea crystallize like that in your mind really makes it a little bit easier also.

Sometimes one is too broad it’s hard. But at the same time the more I started researching this the more it made sense to me because there’s a lot of power in speaking for and aligning with industry. As opposed to just saying hey I’m a snowboarder and I’m worried about the snow. Right. When you start bringing on Burton, North Face other corporations that are organized. So from your experience you know is that what makes this organization either different or is that’s what’s leading to success. Because we all know that when you go in and you speak to government in terms of impact on industry your voices may be heard a little bit louder.

Yeah for sure. I think the way I like to explain it is I’m definitely come from a background of you know wonky environmental non-profit world. And you know we talk about organizing and organizing people. We talk about grassroots so you know regular everyday citizens have me organize their voices and have them be heard and then kind of the opposite side of the is grass tops.

So who are those business leaders who are those professional athletes and I think that’s where POW really excels and that’s kind of our formula is how do we use a grass tops voice to lead our grassroots community. So how do we have Jeremy Jones speak on behalf of snowboarders everywhere and I think when you saw it right after the 2016 presidential election he did a Facebook Live about how he was feeling and saying you know I’m going to stand up and and you know continue to go to D.C. and voice my opinion and when we post a picture of him in D.C. it’s like that’s our most liked image because people feel that he’s representing them.

You know, he’s their voice on this issue.

And so I think by bringing CEOs in ski resorts those are other grass top leaders obviously have more of a sway with their political leaders. But you’re absolutely right about business bottom line like if we compare this to every other industry the outdoor industry is huge it’s in $887 billion dollar industry. And so when we look at oil and gas you know it’s bigger than that. And when you think about how many lobbyists they have in D.C. working on their special interests you know no wonder they are succeeding and so we have this really cool opportunity to leverage that.

But I think a lot of groups in the past few years have been really good at bringing that out and talking about the size of the industry. And I think we’re just at the beginning of seeing that power like when you look at the public lands fight it’s like oh there’s a lot of force behind our industry and it’s only just beginning.

And like you said that voice maybe there was there before but maybe it wasn’t just organized and organization is just such a big part of having success.

So you referenced 10 years and a lot of successes. What are some of your favorite successes the success stories are real good campaigns and then you know what are your goals for the next 10 years. What are you guys talking about saying hey this is where we’d like to be.

Yeah absolutely. So I think in terms of successes you know I think about POWs mission in terms of engaging sports in the broader outdoor community in climate change. It’s really we do it through two things – education and advocacy.  So I think when we look back at our successes one of our key programs is called hot planet cool athletes. And basically what we do is we work with our professional athletes and we bring them into schools and to talk about climate change to kids and to give a better perspective.

So or I shouldn’t say a better a different perspective than maybe their science teacher you know says when they’re talking about climate change and it’s a way to say hey this is what I’m seeing in the field and this is what I’m concerned about and if you love winter and if you love outdoor recreation you should really be concerned too.

You know we’ve reached so many kids through schools and bringing professional athletes and I think you know obviously many of our athletes are incredible public speakers and so it’s just been a really fun way to engage. And you know obviously that’s that’s kids are impressionable and that’s when we have you know some of the best conversations.

And I think also the exciting part to me is a lot of kids get it. You know it makes sense it’s about the changes that they’re seeing in the world like when Eric Larsen just went with us to D.C.

When we got to D.C. It’s like OK we’ve just had two major hurricanes we have you know the West is on fire. It’s raining ash in Seattle and Portland it’s kind of hard to ignore what’s happening in the world right now.

So I think that’s been a big successive on the education side. And then in terms of advocacy I think POW has just really perfected this you know niche in the specialty of making climate action cool. We joke about that all the time around the office. But the reality is like that’s what we want to do is figure out how to take this like really wonky complicated stuff that feels intangible right because it’s like OK as is happening down the road I don’t you know I don’t feel the impacts day to day.

So how do you encourage them to take action on that. If it doesn’t feel real and I think that’s something Protect Our Winter really perfected and in the last couple of years we did a partnership with Ben and Jerry’s in New Belgium Brewing. So we would go to places and have people write letters about the Clean Power Plan and about where their power is coming from.

But they’re at a happy hour. They’re drinking beer they’re eating ice cream and they’re writing their you know elected officials at the same time. And so it’s like OK that’s that’s fun. That’s cool. And that’s not you know this really you’re not getting 20 e-mails a day being like write this letter to your senator you have to do this give us money.

It’s just kind of a different niche and I think that’s why we’ve been effective in advocacy. And I think to your question about where are we headed. I think we’ve realized you know 2016 was a wake up call to us. You know we put somebody in the White House who thinks that climate change is B.S. and that’s obviously not going to farewell for our agenda in terms of trying to get solutions passed.

I think the good thing is that even though that feels like a really big roadblock there are things like clean energy that just make economic sense. And so I think there are a lot of ways. You know you see that the Trump administration really working on promoting coal you know coal plants are being shut down regardless of what the new administration is doing it isn’t cost efficient.

He saw and you know coal plants are closing in Michigan in Texas. It doesn’t matter kind of you know political aspect of where those places are so you know that’s the good news. But I think the bad news is you know we have a lot of elected officials that think climate change is a hoax and it’s really sad to us because you know they US Republican Party is one of the it actually is the only conservative party in the world that thinks climate change is real.

So it’s not it’s not just this conservative ideal it’s it’s really tied back to the fossil fuel industry and how much money is going into that. And so I think we realized that we need to step up politically and we’re really want to play significantly more in the 2014 midterm elections. And yeah really talk to people about the fact that there is really low voter turnout in midterm years especially among millennials which is our kind of consumer base and we’ve got a lot of work to do to get people to really think about climate change when they vote.

Yeah and you know it’s interesting that you brought that up. I knew it was going to be something that’s a big part of your strategy for the next year. Not only the midterms in Congress as a huge event and then just to kind of tie it back in to Colorado. We have gubernatorial race and the incumbent is up for his term limit so he will be changing. And you’re up there already forecasting that this is going to be one of the biggest most heavily spent state elections ever. Yeah and you’re already starting to see the people line up and there’s actually quite a few candidates I’m not first enough to know if there’s any favorites really at this point but I’m sure that’s something locally that will be interesting.

And that’s definitely something we’ve been watching and I think it will be an election that we play pay close attention to. In addition we’re also really interested in Maine and Michigan and Nevada also have the same situation as Colorado where they have an open seat election.

Governor that’s termed out and we feel like those four states are really crucial in terms of having climate leaders and maybe in the past some of those states have had you know people that have not been great on crime at all and so it’s an opportunity to elect somebody that’s really going to step up and obviously for Colorado.

You know we think about our outdoor industry and think about the importance of climates like we need somebody in Denver that’s really going to pay attention to that. And this seems like.

If anywhere is a place where this message of tying the advocacy with the industry where that is very powerful. You would think that Colorado is the place right.

Yeah we especially when talk about the ski industry it’s such a focus of the economy here and not only that but also the outer RECA economy. You know you think about we have the outdoor industry association right here in Boulder. We have Luis Benítez in the governor’s office focusing on outdoor recreation and we have so many incredible you know from Australia’s smart will become businesses all over the state that are huge and depend on this and you know that’s that’s one of the best allies we have in terms of folks like that that are like this is a business bottom line issue. You know if there aren’t places to play you know if wildfires are burning down our forests that then our products don’t sell it’s kind of like thinking of it like why would you sell a tent if there’s no place to camp, or you know same with skis obviously there’s no snow that it’s it’s pretty easy to tie back to business bottom line.

Sure and 2018 will be interesting for you guys also with this new executive director coming in. Yeah. And so know what’s exciting about having kind of a new a new person coming like that.

How you he and you director his name is Mario Molina and he starts with us November 1st so we’re looking forward to that just around the corner and he comes from the Climate Reality Project which is another national climate nonprofit. I think his passion for the topic and his you know lifelong commitment that he’s really made to effecting change in climate I think will be immensely helpful for us.

Before that he worked at a group called the Alliance for Climate Education are really thinking about how we talk about climate. And I think one of the benefits that he’ll bring to power there is you know how do we effectively message climate change and how do we talk about it in these complex situations where we have people of all different political parties. And I think his background in terms of education will help with that.

And then beyond that he’s spent a lot of time abroad and has done a lot of work internationally and I think that will also really help us think for 2018 2017. We’re really focusing on on U.S. elections and we have a lot of incredible international chapters and people that are doing great work and I think we wish we had more time and energy to help but we’re also like Look who’s in the White House. We have a lot of work to do here in the U.S. So that’s kind of where we’re focusing but I think over the long term Mario will bring a much more international scope to power to you.

Well that makes sense.

And he lives in Nederland and he’s a snowboarder so.

Well welcome to the only player that holds the check boxes are all being ticked off.

And speaking of coming to work for power let’s hear a little bit about your story and your background because you’re manager of advocacy and campaigns in the you know that will play into all of these efforts significantly in in the coming year as well and motivating.

So why don’t you tell us a little bit about you know of all the organizations that are out there and how you ended up with Protect our Winters and what you’re focusing on for the day.

Yeah I started so I grew up in Maine and I worked for my first environmental policy group a group called the Appalachian Mountain Club in the state of Maine. And while I was there I worked in the state house and I had this this bill that just wasn’t getting through and it was on state park funding and I was super frustrated I was meeting with you know grassroots folks and trying to get them to come and testify at the State House and working with businesses. And just really couldn’t get anything done and started to really think about OK how do we get you know a large business to say something in this.

And so I started working with L.L. Bean and they decided to speak out on the issue and say hey you know we need state parks and L.L. Bean is one of the largest employers in Maine.

And after they spoke up the issue was moot.

And I said that’s exactly what I to do is work for for that because as we talked about the beginning of this show it’s businesses have immense power when it comes to political clout and you know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing that people listen to business in terms of you know obviously they have economic weight to throw around.

That’s the reality. And I’m a realist and a pragmatist and I’m like OK that’s you know it was exciting so I kind of ventured down this path of you know what is this balance between environmental advocacy and our industry. And with that ended up at the Outdoor Industry Association here in Boulder. Get a job with them in 2013 and road trip down from Maine a little U-Haul and moved to Boulder at the weekend of the floods.

So I showed up at my house and signed a lease on Craigslist and my roommate who I wasn’t actually sure if he was my roommate or not because are like 12 people camping out there were like grab this shovel like this trench is about to burst your neighborhood and we’re going to dig it. And it was like OK here we are.

Welcome to Boulder so wow. It was funny though. People say it wasn’t that awful time to move but I actually think you know what an incredible time to see a community come together and you know from day one to be a part of something so yes spend time here working for the Outdoor Industry Association went to grad school after that just decided that it was time to study up a little bit and worked on a Masters of environmental law and policy to kind of really curtail this whole policy thing.

My undergrad degree is in geology. So you know I think at some point you’re like I haven’t actually learned what I’m doing in an academic setting. I think that’s important as much as experience too. So did that wrapped up and didn’t have a job and decided you know if there was one thing that I wanted to do when I didn’t have a real job it was ski bum.

And so I moved from grad school to Lake Tahoe and they coached alpine racing at Squaw Valley and I met this guy there named Jeremy Jones and some point on the lift. I actually did some kind of behind the scenes networking and was able to connect with Protect Our Winters and start in in Boulder shortly after.

And it’s kind of funny now because if I think about going back and you know being unemployed and if anybody had told me that working at Squaw would actually help me in the long run with my resume to get to power that would have been kind of funny because here I was taking a minimum wage job just for fun.

But yeah and obviously for me this was a dream. I mean I work on really wonky environmental policy stuff that I love. But I also do it in an industry that I love to and it’s kind of you know this really there are few of us I think that are that lucky to tie our professional passion with our personal ones.

Right. It’s an honor. Now that’s super fun. One of the things that I’m noticing about this podcast by reaching out to people is I’m starting to meet a lot of people like you who are able to tell you their passion with their profession and it’s absolutely inspiring.

And that’s something new with Colorado to just kind of the people that it draws we’re talking about this earlier about just people that love the outdoors and spend time outdoors and maybe there’s a everybody here works harder to connect that to their day job too.

Sure. Well we’re also talking about how I haven’t posted this yet but I did have a chance to honor Erik Larson’s recommendation go meet with Dr. Mark Serreze who’s the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center here in Boulder. And we were kind of talking about this earlier but in his interview. He talks about how Boulder basically is the ground zero for global climate research. And you know we get into a lot of the technical aspects of of why that’s the case and some of the other organizations in town.

But I was curious is that what brought you guys to Boulder or was it other things? why boulder of all places?

Yeah it was definitely an aspect of that we have about a 12 person board and seven of our board members are from Colorado so there were certainly a push to move from California to be like hey this is this is this day and this is the place. But you know obviously there’s a lot of organizations here that are connected in one of the ways that we work with the science community is through a program that we have called our science alliance and basically we have scientific advisers within the university community around the country and around the globe actually.

And our goal is to really communicate the research that they’re doing out to our constituency because we know they’re seeing incredible things in the field and you know some very unfortunate changes in the field and a lot of times you know it can be hard to distill that information from a scientific report.

So how can we do interviews with athletes and scientists and so we work a lot with Jim White who’s actually now the dean C.U. but he was formerly the director of instar the Alpine and Arctic Research Program at C.U. and a very well respected scientist. I really think you know how having that accessibility to just walk down the block and interview Jim is incredible.

I’m sure you talked about NCAR and Kevin Trenberth is another one of our advisers there you know and it’s a pretty cool opportunity to be able to take those folks to ski resorts or to you know some of our riders athletes training programs and have those people present. But I think I think you’re absolutely right. Like the front range is full of you know all kinds of different institutions that are looking at this.

One of the ones I actually was going to recommend if you want to know who I would love to hear from is the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden. I don’t really know much about them. I think you know I’d be really cool for the Protect our Winters community to connect with the research that they’re doing because I think it’s you know obviously on the front lines of where’s renewable energy technology going.

But that’s right down the road to you can see the windmills kind of turning in the distance up on the hill over there. I’ll definitely look them up. That would be a great conversation for sure. Now that’s Boulder’s just like really interesting it’s you know it’s got all the outdoorsy stuff but it’s got so much science and technology in town here that it’s you that that’s part of really what makes it pretty special. So.

You spoke about the science alliance and you know I was looking on your Web site it’s just really very clear. We are also speaking about how the NSIDC they’re doing the same thing they’re trying to make the data and all of the you know all this really wonky terminology more accessible because part of it is just flying over people’s heads and you’re trying to address a younger audience.

So I think that that’s you know really resonates as far as a really concerted effort to make that you know information and kind of really you know educational aspect available and I saw that on your website a lot love it it’s just the way it’s laid out.

If you click on any topic it’s kind of got you know here’s the purpose here is that people who are involved in here’s if you want to learn more. And it was labeled like like a ski slopes like a green dot or something he really like the blues or if you really want to dive deep there’s like a double black diamond. I guess if you can’t sleep at night that that’ll that’ll take care of that. I thought that was really interesting how you know education is such a part of it. You speak about influencers these days and a lot of times it’s just you know how many Instagram followers you have or something like that.

But I love the Riders Alliance. In the guys going out and speaking in schools and you know these these athletes they really do have a lot of influence over young kids. You know when one of these explorers or athletes shows up at a junior high or high school I’m sure you know kids are actually paying attention.

Yes definitely a different way to communicate and I think you know it’s kind of funny because you see the same like awe inspiring look on a kid’s face in whatever educational programs that you do when you walk into a congressional office and it’s like at the end of the day we’re all inspired by people that you know that push the limits and push the boundaries and do these incredible physical feats.

And you know we had a few of our athletes on our lobby trip in September were Olympians and brought their medals and you know we joke again about how that opens doors but it really does like people are so excited to hear about you know experience and I think the other thing that power really tries to do as your team to effectively communicate is talk about it in terms of experience like we don’t have a climate scientist on staff and I don’t like when people say well I’m not a scientist but because that’s like way over used but the reality is we connect through experience.

It’s like I testified at a hearing in Denver earlier this year and there was a senator on the panel who was a climate denier and kind of you know talked about how carbon dioxide is really good for plants and went off on that tangent and I just said him whats different than when you were a kid and he’s like oh yeah. And you know just dives right into it and it’s like it’s not about talking about that experience and we don’t have to you know get into.

I think we really do a disservice when we start debating science because there isn’t science to debate. We have a consensus like End of story let’s move on and just kind of you know talk about experience right.

And a big part of that experience with her organization is advocacy and really speaking of education really walking people through how to get involved including Hey click here. Here’s a script for what to say to your local representative. Here’s some of these ideas. Here’s how to get a hold of these people it’s really he was pretty impressed because I think there’s plenty of roadblocks in between saying hey call your representative and that message actually getting across including who is my representative.

Like where do I find this person. Can I really just call these people and you know there’s just a lot of hesitancy there and so your Web site is really amazing and you can see where the priorities are because when you look at the. When you log on to the Web site there’s only like four tabs at the top and the first one is take action. And here’s how. Yes. So that seems really important.

Yeah and we definitely try to break down those barriers because you’re right it is. I think you know a lot of nonprofits do say you know call your senators it’s like OK great. Where do I find their number. Who are they like what do I say.

And that’s been one of our goals is to kind of break down those barriers and you know we do assume that with our constituency in terms of sports industry and the outdoor industry you know not necessarily everybody is members of 20 nonprofits and has gone through that process before and so how do we break that down for the beginner and even the expert to to make sure that it’s easy and clear and we felt really fortunate because we have an awesome advocacy tool that we use called phone to action but it’s actually gotten it’s so precise that we can actually have people text a keyword to a number and it will send them a link that will connect them with all of this information.

So we just really think about how do you break down these barriers so if you’re if you said the burned us open this winter and we want you to send a letter to your senator you can literally just text a number and take care of it right on the spot and not have you know this big barrier. And that actually kind of reminds me of another one of our favorite success stories is we actually built a phone booth. I’m not sure if you saw outside of her office down there.

But we take that to ski areas and you know literally while people are waiting in line to go skiing to help the chairlift you can actually just make a quick call your senator and you have a list of what you should stay in there and in kind of you know how this issue relates to climate change in their number.

And it’s like just take three minutes make a call hop the left and I think a lot of people don’t realize how easy it is and I think a lot of people also think that someone’s going to pick up the phone and maybe debate them back. And the reality is it’s like a message machine you call in there say OK what would you like to pass on to the senator. And it’s really you know it’s OK to read one of those scripts and no one’s going to say what you think that like. Take that back. This is wrong. It’s you know it’s really it’s a message machine. And so it’s really cool to be able to teach people that it’s not that complicated and it feels pretty good afterwards to be like OK I’m an active citizen.

And it is a bit of a numbers game right. We all know that we have these really low rates of turnout in elections and has really skewed towards older generations and. It has no effect. I mean the numbers are skewed in a lot of different ways but a lot of it’s just getting people to kind of show up. I mean that’s just historically that’s where you know the retired associations are great at getting people to show up and the people who know the 18 enough crowd they 18 to 30 or whatever. You know there we just don’t show up.

Right. And it’s all the organization I think a lot of people get you know not to get into something too political. People get frustrated about gun control and why isn’t legislation changing or passing in the NRA is an incredible organizing entity and they’ve done an incredible job at that. And you know we’ve heard things like ratios of people that care about gun control.

You know call about that ten times to as to one call of somebody else’s and it’s like that’s you know there is a staffer sitting in that congressional office taking a toll of how many calls are about this and how many calls her about that. And the reality is we have a lot of work to do to get to a place where you know people are like OK there were you know 50 calls today about climate change.

Right. But like you said it is just about making that call it’s not you’re not going to be have to put up a PowerPoint presentation and argue the science.

Yes exactly. And it’s also again counting backward to what we said earlier just your experience like hey I’m a skier and I’m really concerned about the future and you know we always say to that if we don’t have powder days that’s that’s the least of our concerns. We obviously know there are going to be significant impacts and a lot of you know pretty terrible human suffering and you know with the expense of climate change and I think you know we definitely know that and it’s you know you don’t need to go into the depths of that you can talk about the changes that you’re seeing in your backyard and what your concern is going to bring on.

Right. Well you know I think if there’s is there anything else that you want to make sure that we’re mentioning to the audience before we sign off that. No I say I really appreciate the time tonight. Like I said I always ask who you want on there. And you know we’ll go to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to see we can find unless you can also think of somebody else.

But yeah I would also just say you know you know join us. Check us out at protector Winters dot org and also you know as we talked about we really do break down the barriers to take action. And so if that’s something that you’re you know as a listener interested in doing you know will help you figure that out.

And I think the other thing is you know in the past when Jeremy started POW you know we are protect our winters and we have traditionally been about snow sports in the last few years we’ve really moved to the broader outer industry and are starting to get a lot of outreach from from five fishermen from climber’s saying hey this is impacting me too.

It’s not just about our winter sports it’s about you know how much snowpack was there that led into our streams and our streams navigable by kayaks or boats or are these rivers too hot to fly fish or is it a rock too hot to go rock climbing like these are actually all real issues so it’s not we’re not just a skier and snowboarding club where we’re all of the above and actually stay tuned for some pretty cool research that will talk about impacts of each kind of sport that we think of when we think about spending time outside.

Oh so there’s some good stuff coming in. You’ll have to definitely share it with me when you get it. Absolutely. Please. You know I’m happy to come back anytime. If you if you guys ever want to talk about what’s kind of the latest and greatest for sure. Yeah

I would also recommend Jim White who is on our Science Alliance but he’s just an incredibly well-spoken scientist and have been really impressed by his ability to communicate with the masses about what he’s seeing in the field and is obviously spent a ton of time and in the Arctic and traveling so he’ll be a good.

He’s right here in Boulder and these guys can literally talk about what they’ve seen with their own eyes it’s it’s amazing. So Lindsay thanks again so much. I really appreciate it. Great to learn more about what you guys are up to and kind of connect with you guys and hope we can do it again sometime. All right thank you. Thanks.

Hard everyone. Thanks for listening. And I hope you enjoyed this conversation. As we mentioned in the intro you can find the links to any related content in the show. Note to this podcast episode. If you’re enjoying this podcast.

Thanks again. I really hope you enjoyed this episode and we will see you next time.

Please subscribe over on iTunes or Apple podcasts at it is now known as leave a review. If you have a few moments if you prefer to get our updates via e-mail or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android you can learn more at Colorado.FM/subscribe on how to hook up with these services.

 

Jon Miller of Backcountry United Educates About Public Land Access

Backcountry United - Jon Miller

Hey everyone, Doug Stetzer here, and thanks for tuning in to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast.  

For this episode, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jon Miller, founder of Backcountry United.

Backcountry United is a really interesting organization in that its real mission is to open and enable dialogue about access to our national lands between different constituents with a focus on the human-powered vs motorized camps.

In this conversation, Backcountry United represents the motorized side, particularly snowmobilers who use these machines to access the backcountry.  

However, on the business side they offer some amazing products inspired by the needs of people who play on these toys, such as ski and snowboard racks for the back of your sled and avalanche safety gear.  What you’ll find out from this conversation is that while these products pay the bills and allow them to keep going, the true mission is education and collaboration.

In fact, I need to mention these products here since Jon completely forgot to plug them until the very end of our conversation when we were wrapping up!  He is just really into what is going on with our public lands, and it shows.

I hope you learn a lot from this conversation, I know I did.  The intricacies of our public spaces are something I just am not that informed about, yet it is of vital importance to so many things we Coloradoans enjoy doing.

This is a pretty long and winding conversation, but if you’re into using our public lands and are curious about how they work, you’re about to get an education.

Online, you can find Backcountry United at backcountryunited.com and on both Facebook and Instagram @backcountryunited.  

As always, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find these guys or anyone else we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Jon Miller of Backcountry United.

 

**Update: Jon forgot to mention Spin, a creative agency in Denver, as one of his really strong supporters.  He wanted to make sure they were recognized!  

 


Show Notes

[03:45] What is Backcountry United / Roots in Colorado

[14:00] Human powered vs Motorized: Bringing different sport cultures together

[18:00] Why is backcountry access an issue

[26:30] ‘You should talk to Jon Miller’ – Being at the center of the conversation

[31:00] An education in public land designations

[42:00] Conflict is happening in the parking lot; An ‘I hate snowmobilers’ conversation

[50:00] Colorado’s growing pains

[1:03:00] Some key supporters

[1:12:00] A future in politics?

[1:16:00] Craig, Colorado

[1:24:00] The products that support the mission

 


Relevant Links

Backcountry United

Spin

US Forest Service

Bureau of Land Management

National Parks Service

National Forest Foundation

American Institute for Avalance Research and Education – AIARE

Outdoor Retailer / Snowsports Industries America

Weston Snowboards

The Public Works

ToBe Outerwear

Hay Days

Mountain Skillz

Book: History of skiing in Colorado

Craig, CO

Todd Williams – Photographer

 


Related Episodes

Venture Snowboards

Romp Skis

Irwin Guides / Eleven Experience

Polar Adventure with Eric Larsen

Lindsay Bourgoine of Protect Our Winters

 


Transcript

 

 

Hey everyone thanks for tuning back in to Colorado.FM, the Colorado podcast today.

I am sitting down with Jon Miller of Backcountry United. And you know I’m really looking forward to really learning more about what this organization.

Jon and I got connected through a mutual friend and I can’t believe I’m giving this plug actually to Todd Williams. Exactly. Exactly. Great photographer amazing amazing guy ToddWilliamsUSA.com. There you go man. Don’t say I never did anything for you.  One of the best photographers I’ve ever worked with. Exactly.

So he is out of the Jackson Hole so not a Colorado but they’re like a you know we all kind of drink from the same water.  Kindred spirits.

Well Jon man I really appreciate you taking the trip and coming over to the studio. I’m just going to read a blurb from your website to kind of get this thing going.

All right I hope it still rings true.

Exactly. So Backcountry United. Promoting balanced mixed use public land access avalanche awareness education and social responsibility through collaborative efforts between backountry users influencers and brands.

You know that’s still sounds good.

Read More...

You know when you look at your web site backcountryunited.com. You know three things kind of jump out at you. There’s this awareness education. You know the back country respect respect that’s your word. So why don’t we.

Why don’t we just get into that part because honestly you know we talked earlier in a lot of the issues that you’re dealing with as a back country snowmobiler predominantly and motorized back country access you know person and I just don’t know too much about it and so it’s really great to learn to wound in your words man. What’s what’s happening with backcountry united.

Yeah you know it’s. Well thanks for having me. First of all it’s really good to be here. I’m also a guy that lived in Colorado pretty much all my life and you know and I set out on this mission. A big part of it was promoting other people that do things that I care about. And one of those things I think is supporting Colorado based companies as well. So I really believe what you’re doing and stoked to be a part of it.

Thanks.

And so yeah you know again grew up in northwest Colorado in a small kind of a coal mining ranch town and we are surrounded by mountains.

My dad has probably hiked me you know hundreds if not thousands of miles all over northwest Colorado when I was a kid hunting and fishing and camping and you know Arrowhead hunting and hiking and just all sorts of you know kind of a traditional Colorado outdoors sportsman kind of upbringing and you know grew up near Steamboat so snowboarding I guess I started snowboarding at about maybe 9 or 10 years old and you know snowboarding kind of became the religion for me so to speak and there were a lot of people who rode snowmobiles.

I mean Colorado sorry Craig where I grew up is kind of like a little Minnesota and Colorado just a lot of working class people and you know it stays pretty cold typically year round and you know so people would ride snowmobiles around town and friends with sleds and you know you typically see them at the snow like the sledding hill and so I’ve been exposed to snowmobiles all my life and you know just living in the mountains.

Most of my life. So yeah. You know all these things are kind of happening in little ways around me. Back to my childhood. You know it didn’t really crystallize until 30 40 years later. But you know we’re all kind of a product of our own environment I suppose. And then the other thing is I’m I’m an artist. I always aspire to be an artist when I was a kid.

You know so those were kind of the big things like snowboarding and art kind of led me down a career path that ended up working in advertising and I got to work on a piece of business a snowmobile manufacturer and spent the next ten years working to to build this brand and my passion was always like man I want to bring snowboarding and skiing into the sled industry and a was kind of looking at it more of a market opportunity like an untapped segment of a market that nobody had really paid a lot of attention to historically.

So that was kind of my my passion and then it just evolved from there I started you know getting out and writing a lot with professional athletes and you know producing media with some pretty incredible people out there and Todd Williams being one of them. And you know so became very passionate about snowmobiling and got to travel a little bit and get up to Jackson Hole and.

Alaska and sort of at this point I’ve you know been snowmobiling for as far as owning my own snowmobile and being out there you know doing it for I guess about maybe 12 years now maybe a little longer but you know just fell in love with the freedom of being able to just go out into spaces that you know you think about how few people get to experience just how vast and magical it really is like when you get way out there especially when it’s a snow covered just Dreamland the city is unbelievable.

I mean if you know for somebody who’s not only like newer to Colorado and you know really more of you know definitely outdoors my whole life but just like that kind of access where you have this machine that can get you miles into the back country like I had until I went snowmobiling one time like up in Jackson like I had never experienced anything like that you know in my travels because it was mostly human powered or kind of like side country I guess more often than not.

Yeah. It’s incredible.

Yeah. Well it’s funny because that’s kind of where it all started for me was.

You know I grew up skiing steamboat and snowboarding and my grandparents actually had a house. You know my grandfather just passed away this last summer. So but the house is still in the family it’s at the base of the Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake City. And so you know up until I was about 18 years old I only knew of Snowbird Brighton and steamboat that was my my ski area experience was a little bit of a powder snob.

And you know when I got into when I moved to Denver and was an art school and stuff like you know Vail Resorts started putting out the Epic pass and I was you know just blown away by you know the Back Bowls of Vail and you know places like Aspen Highlands like you know just experiencing wide open steep untracked snow. And you know it’s almost like a drug addiction.

The more I got the more I wanted the less I thought like I could get in. And that’s what pushed me into the side country as well. You know and of course Colorado’s just been growing you know phenomenally over the last 15 years. So you know it’s kind of like becomes this competition to go out and get a powder day.

You have to be there. You know an hour before the lift opens at at least like on a powder day to get that first hour of untracked turns and then the mountains just beat by 10:00 you know. Sure. So you know all these things kind of came together in me getting into snowmobiling and kind of combining those two sports so that I could you know access that that untracked experience all day long.

But then of course the snowmobile humbled me very quickly and it became clear that I had to learn the skills required you know not only the skills but have the equipment and you know some experience and training and you start getting invested in a lot of ways you know beyond financially and just with your time and relationships.

And I was really blown away by the snowmobile community the people that you would meet and this was kind of before right before social media was really happening and so you’d meet people on the sled forums and you know typically it’d be like OK I don’t know how to why my snowmobile won’t run or why my shock is broken or somebody please help.

And you know some pretty awesome people would show up and be like yeah you know I live in Empire stopped by my place and you know I’ll fix your sled for you and you’re just like wow. Who are these people. And that’s so awesome. And they take you out show you around and show you. You know there stashes.

And I started to realize like the incredible personalities that would kind of you know you’d meet like on this wavelength so to speak. So yeah I totally fell in love with the snowmobile community the people I was meeting I was working in the snowmobile industry. I was still snowboarder at heart. But I wanted to bring it all together.

And initially I just wanted to know if truth be told I wanted to bring my snowboard and ski heroes into the sled industry so that we could shoot content and you know basically be in the mountains and make cool stuff together.

And then that obviously evolved and so yeah basically in the corporate marketing world working for you know a global snowmobile manufacturer building brands making cool content meeting amazing people.

And you know at some point wanted to just push it and take it to the next level.

And really bring that that snowboard culture mountain culture element into the snowmobile community and industry.

Interesting yes interesting that those when you look at them you would think they were kind of historically more integrated than as an outsider myself. You know that they always are kind of symbiotic but it’s interesting to learn that there was room for those two communities to kind of be talking to each other a little bit more and maybe realizing how they can work together. You know things like that. And there’s kind of trying to share some of the same resources I guess.

Yeah absolutely. Well you know it’s funny even when you look back historically at skiing and snowboarding as cultures and industries.

You know also culturally siloed and even from a retail perspective you know a snowboard shop was really like the impetus of a snowboard shop was really a skate shop that sold snowboards in the winter time right.

So you know culturally we were more born out of kind of the Southern California surf so you know and where skiing is a much older sport and you know Skewes.

I mean you could I really geek out on like the anthropology of it all because you know skiing has this rich history that dates back to you know especially in Colorado around you know World War II and what was going on up at Camp Hale 10th Mountain Division.

I’ve read a cool book about that like the history of skiing in Colorado actually if people want to learn how these towns came to be what they are and how they got started they’ve got these amazing photographs of people on like 20 foot long two by fours basically in stories of guys who were taking the mail from the Crested Butte in the winter kind of thing.

And of course like one out of ten of them actually made it or whatever but they were in like was out everywhere. So if you’re into that it’s a good book it’s super fun to read. But yeah I know.

I mean it’s funny because I can kind of go off on a lot of different tangents and you know I don’t I don’t experience any of this in a linear way. It’s like a geek out on the history on the culture. How. How we’ve all kind of evolved as human beings in the mountains like over the last half century and you know so it’s interesting it’s kind of fun to be you know I’m I’m a skateboard kid snowboarder you know action sports oriented Gen X or you know. And whereas like I’d say the snowmobile culture and the industries that that serve them tend to be more Midwestern.

And so you know even there like there’s a cultural gap just like there’s a cultural gap between skiing and snowboarding there’s also a cultural gap between you know the Midwestern kind of Lake racing like NASCAR kind of sensibility as opposed to you know more of the mountain town type of culture that has grown up around ski areas and you know getting into the side country and you know of course accessing the back country around you know the different ski towns well.

And we kind of touched on something already and which was that you know Colorado is is blowing up. Absolutely. And to a degree you know mountain towns are all growing. These industries have been growing really fast. The idea of going into the back country that was super foreign and fringe not even 10 years ago is becoming way more popular. You know it’s really stressing the infrastructure and kind of the rules that were in place. So why don’t we kind of get into that and what you’re seeing and what you’re trying to do about it. As far as you know why is bad country access such an issue. And maybe one that’s not being addressed properly. And I think you’re one of the things we just touched on also is a cultural divide. Great day skiers versus snowboarders. The No. So Cal versus Midwest. I mean these are natural phenomenon. Totally. And anyone that you’re trying to have identified and are trying to create a conversation between is human powered versus motorized. Right. And so like how you know what. What

made you recognize that this conversation needed to be had and was being ignored or that we have more these people have more in common than they they know. I mean does that make it a little bit of an assumption. No

absolutely.

Like how it inspired you to kind of get organized around this.

And I use the word organize kind of leave I guess as time progresses we get more and more organized.

But yeah I mean I would say the short answer to that is just experience being out in the mountains.

You know I’ve been in most snowy western states in the United States and have access you know at least side country or back country or have snowmobile you know in a lot of different places and I’ve seen some of the different dynamics. You know you’ve got places like Jackson Hole. You know I grew up near Steamboat Springs Salt Lake.

I’ve been up to Valdez and Idaho you know and there’s all some very subtle differences depending on you know the economy the people the the terrain the ski area how they like. It’s kind of crazy how intertwined it all is. But you know some places are different than others like you know Valdez is an interesting situation because you’ve got these just ginormous.

I mean you can’t even explain how vast and huge the mountains are in the Chugach. And you know the cultures around that area around Valdez it’s like you know oil and gas and then a lot of fishery and you know so there’s a there’s a grit to the Alaskan people you know and they don’t have a lot of ski areas up there. So the mountains are huge. There’s no ski areas there’s not really a lot of lake left accessed terrain. And you know you like in the early 80s they started accessing those mountains using Bush planes which became then helicopters and that’s kind of where the the big mountain heli access skiing was born and a lot of ways.

But a lot of the people that were going there to do that came from Jackson Hole and you know Jackson has its terrain and these these crazy craggy mountains and you know it’s funny Jackson has a sign at the bottom of the trance like this mountain will kill you. You know that’s that’s lift accessed. Right.

And then you know you come down to Colorado and we’re more like rolling hills and a lot more meadows and you know trees and you know Valdez has like almost no trees on their mountains down here in Colorado like there’s trees everywhere. You know the snowpack is different from whether you’re on the coast or intercontinental you know. So you’ve got the warm wet dense snow that sticks to steeper slopes the closer you get to the ocean.

But intercontinental we get a lot more dry high pressure a lot of sunshine in-between our storm cycles. So you’ve got different avalanche dynamics cultural dynamics social economic dynamics. You know blue collar white collar dynamics. You know a place like Aspen there’s not a whole lot of blue collar people that are accessing the mountains around there is a lot more tightly condensed so there’s there’s actually a lot less snowmobile access around there as well.

And I think that’s a reflection of how gnarly the mountains are around Aspen. Avalanche Terrain and then obviously there’s a lot more money as well so people can buy you know swaths of land and so I know I’m kind of like jumping around in a lot of different ways but I guess the more I would travel to different mountain communities I noticed Lake you know like I was attacked by an older woman with who was snowshoeing up groom trail up Independence Pass in Aspen.

I had slowed down to you know stop and wave and you know try to keep space between me and her dogs. No no I was being respectful in my mind. But she just saw a robot on a snow machine and she came at me with her poll and you know I’m wearing a helmet and body armor and stuff so it didn’t hurt me.

Except it just kind of hurt my feelings that had you know that that that kind of a thing would happen or you know so it just you see a lot of people and how they relate to each other and I just I became almost obsessed with this like gap of understanding between you know a lot of the times between the the blue collar kind of hardworking entrepreneurial you know business owners who can afford things like snowmobiles and diesel trucks and you know there’s a grit to the way that you know that they can access the back country with their resources.

And then you know there’s those who have crazy money who could just go anywhere like they’d go to the Alps or they could go heli skiing and B.C. right. But when they come back to Aspen like they want a quiet kind of experience and you know so it’s funny like you just start to kind of see that there’s this gap of understanding between these different types of people who really want to go to the same places.

Right. And then you add to it like avalanche dynamics to that kind of a thing and the more people you get into the places that are mixed use you know it you can have situations such as you know groups getting up you know they woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning and they’ve been you know skinning all morning long and they get up onto a slope and four hours later the sun comes out and you know a group of snowmobilers comes into the valley and you know one snowmobiler breaks off and starts high marking on a slope next to the people who are have been skinning all morning and neither of them understand each other.

The snowmobiler might not even have any avalanche education. And he’s putting those people at risk. The people who are skinning up are just frustrated because he’s putting them in danger but they can’t have a conversation because he’s on a machine he’s got a helmet on. He doesn’t look like a human you know so you don’t have like a human dialogue an in person kind of connection going on as well.

So I use that example because that’s one of quite a few situations that have happened out there that you know when it gets laddered up people are like well what should we do. Oh you should talk to that John Miller guy. He’s trying to solve stuff like this and then I get the call and I’m like OK well let’s let’s think about this thought about it.

And you know and I think that’s where I’ve had the opportunity to start to get myself out there more because a lot of people are either on one side or the other and they can’t speak to the different perspectives.

And so I find myself in a lot of like you like arbitrarily and it happens in more ways than I ever would have imagined. Because I’m looking at it almost from a U.S. perspective. You

know like thinking about how one group you know sees the terrain and like the dynamics of there the realities of you know how they pack and how they travel and how they their group dynamics work and what happens if something goes wrong and you know thinking about it from that perspective but then also to be able to think about the same thing from a motorized perspective and to think that they’re all out there they’re all human beings that want to be in nature.

And you know the at the end of the day there’s so much that they can benefit one another. You know and I try to tell a lot of snowmobilers this that you know people are frustrated with the noise and you know just misunderstanding of what we’re out there to do on the machines. And I try to help the motor as people realize like Hey you’ve got actually a very valuable tool and resource that can be helpful and beneficial in so many ways to people who probably don’t understand that about you.

Right.

It’s like an avalanche forecasters use snowmobiles to get to their snow sticks or you know if if I see somebody out in the middle of nowhere what is it going to hurt for me to you know go up to them and take off my helmet and say hey I’m everything.

Killer day is good can I you know haul your your pack you know up the hill for you. Is there anything I can do to assist. And it’s funny how it changes the conversation and when people start using their their tools and their resources like in a positive way it starts to undermine those negative perceptions.

So you know I’ve been trying to find ways to get that conversation out there as well.

Interesting. What are some of the like. Are there any like real forums where this conversation is like what are your like.

You know I see you know I follow you on Facebook and I just kind of see some of the things you’re up to and and enjoy following your posts and your voice always you put out your good educational and awareness stuff as well. But I like to see like you know these events that you’re always like go to this event or I’m going to this event. And you know it helps me kind of get it again and a new perspective on different things that are happening around here that just aren’t really part of my normal kind of sphere. And so what are some of your like. Where are some of these conversations happening. Are there any a favorite or most.

Yeah. You know I think involved I think the thing where I’ve really been developing this brand over the last three years is by creating my own sort of social channels and building my own audience that has these people mixed together. And I’ve been doing it through mixing content that’s relevant to these different perspectives all in the one place.

So I think that’s probably the biggest way that I’ve been building this conversation as far as under the banner of my awareness.

 

What I didn’t do because your community will have snowmobilers but also just any other examples dirtying things mountain biking you know taking my family camping and simply focus on that we talk about the winter sports a lot but it really is more than that.

Yeah. And so you know one of the things I learned even from you is some of the rules are of how our food service works and how our know the designation between wilderness and forest land and parks and I’m just again I’m just not that familiar with the of different access that’s I call on a whole bunch of other things that it’s like a whole different thing. You have to educate yourself about it in order to really just to use utilize to to its fullest extent all these amazing resources that we have around here.

Well I think that’s probably become probably my my biggest passion that’s emerged out of you know when I started back country united I was thinking about stewardship education respect stewardship being in relation to the land education you know being mostly focused on avalanche awareness respect being more about people relating to one another respecting one another even if they might not be using the land in a way that you think is appropriate.

And then innovation I’ll get to that. Like toward the end of our product line you run away is that I’m trying to find ways to capitalize to fund me to continue to work on you know the first three tenors.

But yes so the public land piece I guess I kind of became aware of it about what years 2018 is now.

So it was 2014 that I became started becoming aware of some of the public land issues. And I think they were happening but it was still kind of people weren’t as aware of it. When I first started tuning into it the general public still isn’t really aware of it. And you know I started. And so basically I left the corporate world working for you know one of the leading snowmobile manufacturers for decade and then found myself sitting at a table in a boardroom with a bunch of Forest Service and National Forest Foundation leadership and I had the opportunity to work with them on another.

You know I’m a creative I’m an advertising creative director so as brought in for a project to get people aware that we had a media opportunity at Beaver Creek for the FIA World Ski Championships in 2015. And you know it’s kind of like it’s crazy it’s like they build a freaking Super Bowl stadium at the bottom of birds of prey for this event and you know draws a crowd from all over the country and the world really.

And you know so as all of these people were coming to these races they saw a media opportunity in partnership with Vail resorts to just educate people.

Hey did you know that you’re standing on your national forest right and you know so I have a lot of passion for that and I knew that you know our national forests are really the only place that’s still left for motorized use. A lot of sportsmen’s group I mean really it’s it’s our greatest.

As far as you know winter access goes especially winter access. From my perspective that the Forest Service lands were really the only place where we could you know experience freedom the way that we do out there.

And so it instantly like connected with my passion. I had already started back country united as a Facebook page a year and a half prior to that. And so my mind was already kind of working toward the idea of stewardship and. But yeah I started to become aware of bigger you know kind of public lands problems that these land managers were thinking of and that we had to kind of figure out how to create messaging communications that would represent you know the the the mission of you know like the Forest Service as a land management agency.

But then also just where society is trending right.

You know like Colorado was a great example because people are coming from all over the country right now. The Front Range of Colorado is I think the third fastest growing metropolitan area in the country right now. And I mean we’re seeing it pretty painfully. You know our infrastructure can barely handle the traffic that’s showing up and you know people are coming here for the Colorado lifestyle.

Sure the powder days the sunshine the mountains that are just right there out your back door. And you know it’s starting to feel like we’re reaching critical mass already.

And you know I’ve seen some some data projections that look like the Front Range of Colorado will be the largest megalopolis in North America by 2050 right.

So these are like issues like gas so the stuff we all came here for.

Absolutely.

Everybody came here for it.

And you know luckily that you know we have things like National Park Service and BLM lands and you know Forest Service and there’s a lot of wilderness you know.

And I started to become pretty you know I wouldn’t say that I can recite to you like what the Wilderness Act says word but I know.

But there’s differences and subtleties in what the definitions of all those different lands are and it’s very important that the American public knows and we really most people don’t know.

Yeah I certainly don’t. And let me ask you a question. Oh here we go. What’s your favorite national forest. My favorite national forest. Don’t

be afraid that something I’m going to go ahead and say just because I’ve driven through there are a couple of times I believe. How do you pronounce it the one where you like when you’re on your way to tell you right and come on think about that a national forest.

You can work. You pass it pass that you like.

You know it’s funny a lot of people when you ask that question What’s your favorite National Forest. They’ll just blurt out Yosemite. Right. Yellowstone Johnson you know like well that’s National Park Service. They said under the Department of Interior totally different department of the government.

And so these things don’t even sit in the same silo.

Now they have to work together because a lot of the lands are adjacent to one another. And when you’re talking about Lake Watershed and you know forestry and stuff like that like you know it I’m sure there’s a lot of gray areas. I can’t speak to the shore millions of intricate technicalities that you know the land managers of all their different roles could say. But you know there’s absolutely a difference between like Rocky Mountain National Park for instance which has some wilderness attached to it. I think it’s mostly wilderness. We may have to edit this out because I can’t speak specifically. But then like you know Indian Peaks Wilderness just right here in our backyard like most of these front range mountains are not motorized. Right. Frankly we wouldn’t want to ride snowmobiles on them anyway because the snow pack just typically isn’t isn’t there. He’s over. So that’s a convenient human powered corridor that you know there’s not a lot of conflict there.

But they have even had to regulate like cycling. I mean like the. Yeah.

And then you get the you know the crazy people who hate the mountain bikers that put spikes you know in the trails and you know are literally endangering people’s lives over you know selfish ideal that you know the way they perceived that land is more righteous than the way those people perceive that land right now.

And really all we’re trying to do is get some exercise and enjoy the clean air and you know the scenery and the challenge the physical challenge the mental challenge. You know a lot of the human power people say will tell you that the snowmobilers are just fat and lazy and you know they don’t you know anybody can just sit on a snowmobile and go up the mountain.

Well I I’ve tried it once and I can tell you is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. You’re not going to be fat lazy by in that 400 pound thing around or how much it weighs you. Like you said earlier even the humbling way to put it silly.

I mean these cultures you know is such a good word that like these different cultures and so you know if you break down and that’s like the conversation that I guess you’re trying to have which makes so much sense which is that. No it’s not. It’s not hard to draw a similar line between human powered and motor powered when they’re having the same conversation within human powered between hikers and bikers.

And so it’s like well they may be like well take a bike or over a snowmobile. It’s like you’re still having that same conversation. There’s there’s space out there that has limited access. I mean there’s tons of space out there but most of it is hard to reach.

And and thankfully I think it’s good that some terrain manages itself that way that you know we almost couldn’t conquer it right.

You know and you’re predominantly probably going to reach land that’s out of reach of a hiker or snowshoe or generally you’re late for a little while you’re in the same place.

Yeah and that’s and it’s typically where a lot of the conflicts happen at the parking lot right. I went to a South Lake Tahoe a year ago for my level one instructor training course with every American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education.

And we had a couple of days out in the field and you know I was blown away by how many people of all use we’re sharing the same parking lots and and that that to me and a little bit to some of the dynamics of you know the Tahoe area. As far as the human powered motorized. And then a few weeks later I was at S.A with a snowmobile on display for our products with our partners Westend snowboards. And it was pretty interesting the conversations I had with people for four days at that event was just a real quick snow sports industries of America. So it’s you know the largest ski snowboard retailer here show OK which is in Denver now.

And yes you know it.

I clearly remember an older gentleman probably you know late 50s came up to me checking out the snowmobile and you know it took for for whatever reason he felt it necessary to tell me how much he hates snowmobilers. Right. You know total stranger walking up to me to say I hate you. Right.

And then it’s like oh OK well let’s talk about that you know and he’s like Yeah you guys are just you stink your smoking up the place. You

know you’re so loud you’re driving every you know wild land creature away. You guys are just trashing the place like I hate snowmobilers.

And I was like well you know.

Have you ever talked to snowblowers it’s like Yeah there’s just just so inconsiderate they’re rude.

You know they litter in the parking lot you know. I mean he just he couldn’t say anything good. And I was like well you know I would challenge you to to realize that most snowmobilers are family oriented community oriented like you know that trail that you skin effortlessly up you know who pays for that Snowmobile registrations. You know who grooms that trail. Probably a snowmobiler is probably paid for by a snowmobile club.

You know who gives you your avalanche forecasts. Probably a guy on a snowmobile. You get lost out there. Guess who’s gonna come and save you in the middle of night in a blizzard of search and rescue can’t get in there with a helicopter. It’s going to be a group of local snowmobilers that will gladly you know put themselves in harm’s way to rescue you. And I was just like you know you got to understand how much value the snowmobilers bring to your back country experience.

And the second that you need them are going to be there. And and I hope that you can see that you know by the end of the conversation I mean we probably talked for you know 45 minutes and he was shaking my hand and he was you know just super grateful and we just had this really amazing conversation and I didn’t even I wasn’t there for that conversation. I was there to you know hopefully get people’s eyes on my product line right.

But while I was doing you know just got to have a really powerful conversation that I think you know I would imagine probably changed his perception a lot of ways.

Surely you know at least opened his eyes and he was he didn’t. Didn’t sound like he approached you he was really open to really having conversations there’s no way that he wanted to invite in the beginning. But you know and then you never know where that guy takes that conversation.

Absolutely. And so because he goes up in the mountains with his friends and you know they’ve probably been grumbling about it for years every day when they get to the parking lot or whatever but you know maybe it maybe changed things a little bit.

It’s funny even in you know in Colorado I have the conversation quite a bit where if I start getting into it with somebody who hates snowmobiles in Colorado especially in the front range especially people from Boulder I don’t know what it is. You know I can very easily say you know you probably drove past 100 trailheads where snowmobiles weren’t allowed before you got to this place that you’re so angry about snowmobiles right.

You know you know everybody goes to El Paso like when it like Vail passes like the you know I think actually I learned that Vail passes the most utilized mixed use. Winter

back country recreation area in North America maybe not North America. But in the United States it’s interesting to see the conflict that exists there right. You know when on the you know the Eagle’s Nest area the Gore range that’s all human powered. You can’t get a machine in there.

There’s plenty of terrain all day long if you don’t want to smell snowmobile smoke you’re only going to smell it when you’re in the parking lot at the parking lot. And you know the the trail network is all funded by snowmobilers you know. And then there’s you know snowcat operator there who does power guides. You know he’s frustrated now because skiers and snowboarders are now realizing that the snowmobile can take them to where he’s been taking his clients for 20 years.

Right. You know and I mean it just and there’s now there’s you know speed flyers you know skiers with parachutes they go there to learn that.

And there’s there’s timber sleds now so snow bikes motorcycles that are getting converted into snowmobiles basically. And you know you don’t even have any skills you can just go anywhere you want to go on those things. Really. Yeah.

And then there is you know the guys who have been going up Vail Pass for 30 40 plus years who truly believe that the people who have aftermarket exhaust on their snowmobiles did it purposefully just to piss that person off and so you just got all these different people that don’t realize that like OK if you’ve got a problem there’s a thousand other places you could go within 20 minutes of here where you wouldn’t even have to deal with that problem.

You know and there’s far more options. Yeah. Like you said like you’re have limited options.

Yeah I mean it probably seems like we have a lot of areas to ride but you know each year goes by and it gets cut down less and less. There’s there’s a lot of groups that their sole nonprofit groups that their sole mission of their organizations which have become very well funded very well organized have a lot of political influence.

Their sole mission is to create more wilderness which closes off even more and more riding areas. And you know and then in a place like Colorado where more and more wealthy people are moving you know they’re buying plots of land that that border you know national forests as well. So you know it’s literally like closing in on us while our population is exploding.

Well the ski resorts have become so crowded that more and more people are going to the side country when more and more people are going inside country.

More and more of the people who used to go inside country are now going into the back country. And you know you can see how this thing is just growing and you know now we’re seeing a lot of these public land issues really coming to fruition. Maybe I wouldn’t call it fruition.

It’s more of a say a negative history of reaching kind of a tipping point like under the surface a little bit.

Yeah I mean you know in a few weeks we’re going to have the outdoor retailer an essay. So S.A was its own show before. Now they’re combining the two and I mean it’s going to be the largest outdoor industry retailer show. I mean I think the only one bigger is ASPO in Germany. But yeah I mean it’s a big deal and it’s going to bring a lot of business. Colorado Malatya startups in the outdoor space are going to start happening more and more in Colorado.

You know the state of Colorado is very focused on growing the outdoor industry. And as you know as a giant right there with aerospace and you know M-M J. Yeah. So you know I think we’re going to see a lot more of that industry growth in Colorado and the political weight behind it is significant.

You know the the Outdoor Industry Association I believe they’re based in Boulder. They have and I haven’t seen the actual itemized breakdown of numbers but you know they’ve basically come to the conclusion that the outdoor industry is eight hundred eighty seven billion dollar industry. The third largest economic driver in the American economy twice that of oil and gas. Right.

And you know you can see why that organization of statistics makes so much political sense because it gives state governments like Colorado a lot more clout weight to swing around in attracting that type of industry here and you know outdoor retailer has moved Colorado because of how the state of Utah was handling public lands issues.

And so it was that the May I read about that move being made. I didn’t understand I did. I’m just not knowledgeable about that industry enough to understand. I figure is more like population or economically based but I wasn’t sure like that.

It’s not the short of it is basically you know the people who are running Eutaw government are predominantly fighting for state management of their public lands. And what that has done historically from what I’ve heard is that the states can’t afford to manage that kind of resource.

Yeah.

And you know and I mean you could take use the metaphorical example on a more micro level of like what happens if I can’t afford to pay my mortgage right. I have to sell my house or I have to find a way to subsidize the cost of my house by renting out the basement or something. Right. It’s like that except you know if they can’t afford to manage those lands you know they’re going to put in extractive industry in there where they can make money off of it. Profit off of it.

And you know so it’s just too tempting like the day if you know if there there’s a budget gap or there’s you know there’s things you want to pay for and you know there’s always people whispering and you’re like well if you we just do this then yeah we’ll get this like rent you know basically absolutely you know.

And then once you start like opening the Pandora’s Box of public land issues you start realizing You know the snow that we ride on in the winter is the water that in under served community in Detroit.

Yeah. That’s their clean water. You know the air we breathe that we take advantage take for granted. You know the thing about like China where there’s so much air pollution right. You know they just wear masks and they assume it’s normal. All right we have a brown day in Denver and you know it’s like it’s noticeable you know we. So we take our clean air and our clean water for granted.

I mean those are like the two most elemental you know life support systems of our our way of life our lifestyle our quality of life as Americans. And yet had another thought. But I’m kind of going down the list.

I mean well this public lands thing like you said it’s such a big issue and it’s super complex. You’re dealing with national level issues state level issues all these different bureaus. The land is in all these different groups there aren’t even in one spot.

It’s all in the lands literally serve everyone right in some way that’s vital to the very life that we take for granted you know and then you get into like you know native tribe issues. Yeah you know and it’s just I mean the rabbit hole is endless on this stuff and you start going historical as well. And you know there’s a lot of different perspectives clamoring for access right when it comes down to it.

And well I think one of the things it sounds like you’re saying is like you and people need to be open to the fact that there’s a lot of different ways to access and enjoy this land this not doing like any permanent damage to it or anything like that. And you know. No. No one is right. And a lot of communication just respect kind of needs to be had there. And you know this kind of sounds like what.

Well yeah there’s something for everybody already without having to like by just staying status quo. And that’s my wish. I wish the you know the wilderness that exists.

It doesn’t change the multiuse that exists doesn’t change the way over snow vehicles travel in the winter doesn’t change national parks they don’t change like you know of course private property. That’s a whole different conversation that I had. I mean I don’t even have the bandwidth to think about those implications. But there’s just the more that it changes the crazier it’s going to get.

You know it’s going to become just another one of the many political divides that are going on in our culture right now. You know spiritually energetically you know this divide between people that you know and and that’s when it starts getting political and you know it’s just you know it’s funny because recreation was kind of an accident. When you look at it like when you know the U.S. Forest Service started the reason why the Forest Service sits under the USDA is because trees grow their crop.

You know General like I’m generally speaking there’s a lot of intricacies beyond that. And BLM is about what’s under the ground. So it’s more about mineral rights and you know I’m sure there’s BLM lands that you know worry about forestry and I’m sure there’s Forest Service lands I worry about mineral rights but you know generally speaking I think that’s why they were designated the way that they were.

And it was a totally different business model profit center that was set up under the Department of Interior. You know and if you kind of compare the differences you know again it’s like if you want to understand anything you follow the money right. Yeah and you know it operates because like you go to Rocky Mountain National Park. What do you have to do before you even enter. Yeah we have to pay you know U.S. Forest Service lands what pays for that water usage timber.

You know probably some mining in certain places certain states probably some natural gas extraction in certain places a whole lot of outfitter like guiding permits you know hunting fishing and this is where it starts getting back into the recreation space right. You know OHV trail permits.

You know Vail Resorts for instance is the largest I think they’re the largest per Mitie hike in the recreation space. National Forest land.

So you don’t have to imagine when you think about like how much terrain they they use. Right.

Right. So how do you all well and how do you compare the dollars coming in through permits and stuff like that.

And the dollars that come in through the traffic jam at Yellowstone right that you know two totally different models. You know and and you know I think like Utah has a lot of BLM lands. You know it’s it’s I think more BLM than Forest Service but you know you think about how much mining is going on in Utah and I think that’s a big. Another big reason why there’s so much turmoil in Utah is because there’s so many minerals under the ground there.

Then when they go extract in those in that context I mean they’re changing the landscape right now in Colorado like I mean we actually need more trees cut down because of the beetle kill problem here you know. Right. Whereas like in the Pacific Northwest you know they’re cutting trees down and then they grow so fast you know they just re vegetate the area. Right. You know 20 years there’s a new forest that looks like more like a grid. It’s less organic but right you know.

So there are all those differences but when it comes down to it there’s skiers and snowboarders and snowmobilers and dirt bikers and mountain bikers and kayakers and rock climbers mountaineers and families that want to take their Airstream.

It’s crazy. I took a trip to Moab recently and if you want to just see like motorized access in the country and just go out there you get to your hotel the parking lot is a little out of control. Just full of rigs with huge trailers with like 10 side by sides on the back of dirt bikes and driver and you go to breakfast and everyone’s there at 6:00 in the morning and that like 7 o’clock in the morning that parking lots empty like they all scatter all over.

And you know that just goes to show like that. That’s you know that’s kind of what. That’s one of the freedoms we have right there. This land is paid for and a lot of different ways including all of our taxes. And things like that.

You know that’s part of the picture in which we should actually be grateful for any form of way that preserves our freedom. You know. Yeah. Like yeah we don’t want to change the landscape.

But maybe there’s some crappy flatlands. You know it’s OK if we drill that stuff you know.

But let’s not destroy the Rocky Mountains or the road you know Escalante Canyon. Right.

And you know and just to you know it’s complex man. It is like the Organization of the land. Is complex. The issues are complex. The cultures are complex and varied. The demographics of all of these things are complex and so I think it just gets back to what you’ve started here as a method of communication. And usually that’s where things need to start. And that’s where problems get solved. So

you know you’re like if I have solved any problems you’ve brought you’ve had that conversation with one guy that show.

Like that’s one that’s how grassroots things happen.

And especially if it’s you know in your particular your main focus which is you know keeping access for motorized access is you know it’s just you know is under represented and so you know I’m curious. You know you said you’ve come across some really good supporters as you’ve a view as you’ve started. You know this thing kind of organically grew from a Facebook page today to what it is now which is really interesting you know when to go check it out. You know again back country united ICOM.

You see the focus like there’s this you know we spent most of our time talking about these issues because that’s what you really mainly talk about. There’s avalanche awareness stuff on there as the most. It’s like a resource page for other really good resources that are out there. You’re not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything like that.

And then there’s your products that help support this effort also. But you know we were speaking just briefly before we started here. And you really wanted to make sure you had a chance to kind of pay for and get some.

Just like shout to some people because I guess you know why you’ve been having these conversations and as you’ve been on this journey you know you’re coming across a lot of headwinds and so anybody who’s ever started a new project or new business or knows what that journey is like. And people who get behind you like really make all the difference in the world. So let’s talk about some of the people have got behind you on this. Oh

man. I could take another hour knocking about people you know. I got to get to know some of the legends of the snowmobile sport guys like Randy Sherman Chris Brandt Dan Adams Keith Curtis gosh Jeremy Mercier there’s just so many great snowmobiler professional athletes snowmobiler personalities out there that have all just been so awesome I’ve gotten to work with people like that.

You know again Todd Williams. You know photographers tend to get together with a lot of athletes and media producer type of people so no one would know what you guys were doing back there.

Yeah they were part of our own problems.

I really like all you see is the parking lot you know you and you want to go see you like what these guys are doing snowmobiles in the back country.

Yeah the mystique is gone.

But as it continues to you know rapidly evolve as well. You know there’s a lot of people in Colorado as well the guys over at the public works Mike arts Ian Foreman both those guys are photographer phenomenal photographers they shoot a lot of stuff and like Warren Miller and you know Red Bull and Levis and do some cool stuff out there. The guys from and snowboards Mason Davey and Leo.

You know their grassroots snowboard brand that’s focused on split boarding. I connected with them because they got into snowmobiling and now so they’re they’re kind of more on the human powered side and I think that I’ve been like the snowmobile guru in their network.

And you know we we really value our relationships with one another. I worked on the Vail Pass taskforce which is a nonprofit that supports the bill past winter recreation area. So you know they were a human powered motorized committee that got together in the 80s when same things were going on back then.

I mean people were stringing up barbwire to you know decapitate snowmobilers and choose guns getting drawn in. So you know we’ll pass taskforce kind of came up as a way to bring people together to solve some of those same issues. You know this was 30 years ago. Right. And let’s see. To be outerwear there a Swedish company I met the founder I guess about 10 years ago at an event called heydays in Minnesota. It’s a big snowmobile it’s like the Sturgis of snowmobile.

I only imagine what that’s like. Oh man it’s pretty rowdy. But we hit it off. He

came out to Colorado. I took him to Wolf Creek Pass you know for a few days in late spring. We had one year let him use one of my sleds and you know made a lifelong friend and actually met another guy named Matt ense who’s has a company called Mountain skills with Matt ense.

He’s pretty phenomenal snowmobile athlete down in South Fork. He does avalanche training and also guides a lot of people. Man I could just go on I think I’m like forgetting a thousand people. Yeah there’s just a lot of really incredible people and you know and then in the last few years I’ve been working with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation.

As you know this is like Creative Director side work it’s not even really under technically under the banner of backcountry united,  backcountry united it has kind of created my my voice and my my thinking and my relationships. And so it’s been a natural tie and to you know be working on my passion project. But then also working toward conservation efforts for the forests that we enjoy got to work on. You know I was talking about a little bit about that campaign.

It’s called. It’s all yours. And you know it’s really special for me to be a part of that voice creating that message. You know that can relate to every user every American you know whether you’re you know that inner city kid to the you know somebody at a ski area a snowmobile or to a hunter to you know whatever walk of life you come from the public lands belong every one of us.

They don’t just belong to one group who happens to be hiking into it more than other people. Right. We just all have access to it and some are more privy to it than others. But you know it’s really important for me to get involved and work like that. And you know and so it’s informing back country united and back country united is informing that work and you know I’ve been I’ve got a wife and three kids I’ve been very blessed to have survived.

You know four years out on my own since I left the corporate world you don’t do work that I really am passionate about. And you know I got to go to D.C. last summer and got to meet with some of the you know top leadership from all sorts of different perspectives with the United States Forest Service the agency and the Forest Foundation and you know it’s interesting for me as a small town kid from a coal mining town in northwest Colorado who’s passionate about snowmobiling to sit in a room with people who are coming from all over the country you know really they’re the ones steering the ship and guiding how these lands are managed and all their infinite ways. Right.

You know I’m probably I’ve probably seen more places that they manage in person as far as you know winter back country goes than I think a lot had. So I think just my experience and my background I know even those on the ground. I mean these people I mean these people are just so brilliant and they’re like on a on a level that you know super humbled in their presence to even be having conversations you know.

And I realized that I have a great perspective that wasn’t really especially represented and right in a collaborative conversation like that now and I think a lot of the snowmobile you know advocacy groups and other motorized advocacy groups you know they’re so focused on fighting lawsuits at the federal level that at that point there’s no collaboration. It’s just everybody is on the defense and they’re just two forces fighting against one another.

Where I’ve got this really cool opportunity to kind of bridge the gap and be able to like sometimes like like a spy a secret spy that you know relate to two different sides of the issue and it’s kind of funny I was actually speaking with a pro skier this girl Lindsey DYAR pro skier up in Jackson doctor yesterday actually and she was saying you know you really should think about getting into politics and I’m like yeah you know quite a few people have been saying that to me lately.

And she’s like No seriously dude you get off your ass and go step up and I’m like oh yeah OK I guess I’ve come so far down this path.

Right.

You know again I don’t know where any of it’s going but just gaining like this collective knowledge is a start because it’s so complex.

Having conversations with a bunch of dick constituents in a debate is another huge leg up because that’s where movements happen. And that’s really where progress happens. And you’ve got to have passion for it because you know it’s so much energy and it’s so much commitment.

So not everyone you know everyone’s just so much easier just to go into defense mode and protect your interest. And then just not. It takes energy to look at things from all the different angles it takes energy to go like twisted down and have a collaborative discussion and try to like let’s get to know each other you know and so live in it. I

mean there’s a lot of situations I’m really uncomfortable in because I feel like I’m strongly advocating one side more than the other. And so I get tested in ways that I didn’t even see coming and you know and it applies to all facets of life. You

know it forces me into a lot of uncomfortable situations that I have to just take a breath and have faith and you know come into it feeling positive that the other people I’m talking to have good intentions to write you know and you know I certainly have a lot of things that I’m still working through.

You know just from a personal growth standpoint. And we didn’t even talk about the business entrepreneurial side.

You know so you’ll have men I think you know when you come back when you’re you know running for office and you want to talk to the audience you know. We’ll see. You know we’re all those things live it. I mean it sounds like you know again you put yourself out there and you know that’s kind of part of what this podcast was about. You

put yourself out there and you start meeting really interesting people and having conversations about what they’re passionate about it really. You know you learned so much I learn so much from from talking to my guests and people like you and I get to just tap into your wisdom and just get a little bit of the cliff notes version and record it so I can listen to it again because if we are I’ll have a few beers and had this conversation going like what was that thing you mention go down all sorts of different tangents in so you don’t so if you have to do it again some time you know we will.

And I’d love to Yeah. And so. So you mentioned a couple things I just want to ask and these are quick ones. And at the same time they can be very difficult. First you said you have spent so much time actually out there in the land and you know different access points different you know recreational areas and things like that.

We’ll keep it to Colorado and Colorado focus your favorites are hard man is there is there a favorite. Do you have like a. Sometimes it’s like it’s my favorite because it’s where I can go one step at a time. You’re turning around on me.

I am getting your local knowledge man and you mislead me you know but that’s also. Yeah. And so Kansas is great the city of Kansas snowmobiling though you know again like I don’t know a lot of hikes.

But at the end of the day my favorite ones like the one that’s in my backyard because it’s what I do when I have limited time but if I have a week drink that’s that’s a different thing. But anyway like anything out there what you’re just like man or maybe a surprise where you’re just like wow like I didn’t think this is going to be something that sticks out for me.

It’s funny.

And I never thought I would have answered the question this way when I was younger but the place I grew up is kind of has become this like really special place that you know I spent my whole life trying to get out of Colorado. Now that I have you know a family three kids and two dogs and you know it’s some slides of your own.

Yeah there’s a part of me that wants to go back and there’s still so much land unexplored out there and you know and now that my my dad he’s not really in the health to go to a lot of the places he used to you know give me piggyback rides ride to get me the last you know three miles back to the truck you know.

Now I kind of want to take my kids to those places and kind of backtrack and figure out you know oh that was that was that place that you know I caught that one fish or that place where I’d lost my shoe in the Green River and had to wrap my T-shirt around my foot to hiked for ten miles.

No. Yes.

You know northwest Colorado Moffat County Browns Park Dinosaur National Monument. You know these aren’t even places where you snowmobile. There really places where you know I wish I had a big RV camper and you know a couple of dirt bikes and a side by side and some mountain bikes and you know take my family and camp out for a couple of weeks.

I mean there’s still wildlife wild horses running free out there and I mean just I mean you can get lost you know. A lot of it’s sagebrush country. But you know it’s kind of the last frontier of Colorado and a lot of ways and you know and it’s also a kind of a depressed town because you know the hit that the coal industry has taken. So you know there’s a part of me also that that cares a lot about the community that I grew up in and you know I’m wondering if maybe that’s where I get into politics or right. You know there’s ways that I can help them from a marketing standpoint to drive more tourism if you know Colorado is growing in the tourism segment and you know maybe there’s other ways to boost their economy and help a lot of the people that I grew up with.

And you know so and it’s funny because you know as much as the state has changed you know especially in the last five years. But I mean I left Craig Colorado in 94. And it really hasn’t changed that much. And I like that right now. So yeah I think that’s kind of like full circle you know.

Yeah and that’s fun.

I think I want to you know move to Alaska or Idaho before you know those are kind of like bucketlist things but I could see myself going back to northwest Colorado.

Gacha that’s awesome. And then you know and then the last thing I know you gave me a when we talked about some of these supporters you know to make sure we dig up resources and put links to make you can find it. You know all that kind of stuff. But if you could pick one or couple for different reasons that you’d like to hear their story on this podcast man who would you like to hear on this or who do you think the audience would really benefit. You

know I’m going to just throw a dart in my head and it’s going to land on Mason Davey of West and snowboards.

They’re great little grassroots snowboard and split Ward brand focused on back country travel. You know they’ve they’ve really grown a lot in the last couple of years and you know I’d say Mason is probably my biggest champion out there. Nice you know one of my biggest supporters and so you know I’m I’m calling you out Maysam.

Maybe you can help put us in touch fit. We’ll definitely love to meet those guys. I definitely feel like I’m seeing their stuff around more.

Yeah they’re doing great.

They’re just really special people and you know they’ve figured out a way to make you know their following is their family. It’s less about like hey we’re the cool snowboard company like you wished you could hang out with us. It’s more like oh hey you want to come along. Absolutely. We got a Snowcat Yeah. You know we’ve got sleds like let’s go split boards. You’ve never done it before. No problem like we’ll teach you everything you know. It’s just that sense of community that you know you can see how that’s a reflection of all the energy that I’m putting out as well and you know I think the further down the rabbit hole I go you know the more people like that that I tend to attract to what I’m doing and again those are those are the kind of people that I want to be around too.

Yeah for sure not. That’s a powerful powerful thing. So you know and I just I know we could go on. These

are again you know this is just the tip of the iceberg. You

know a lot of times when you know you’re talking to somebody about their company and they your or their you when I talked to the people more about at a nonprofit or some like that tends to be super complex.

You know and people’s stories buying companies are are really amazing. But you’re really in a complex space and so it’s harder Les educate all of that and in this span of time and you know I just appreciate having these conversations because when we spoke on the phone we were just calling just to like catch up and touch base again after you know we had met a couple of years ago. And I ended up just getting just like you know education about you know what you’re up to. And I was I again I was I wish I was just running a tape recorder then because it’s something that really impacts us all. Like you said we were you know I I’m pretty new to Colorado three years or so and you know there’s a lot of people like me move in here and a lot of people say well like we’re part of the problem. But we’re all moving here. It’s happening and there’s a lot of issues that affect us all and that we don’t know about. And

that’s why it’s so important to make connections like this because you know had you never met me or if you didn’t know Todd Williams you know you might also think that snowmobilers were you know the devil incarnate in the back country and you know now that you’ve got those relationships and you know that there is a community out there that cares about the land despite what you know the political divide says crime. You know it’s just it just continues to spread that way you know.

It’s all we can do. Like just keep talking totally man. Again I appreciate you taking the time to come over and sit down and talk about what back country united is up to. We’ll be sure to put all the links to everything Backcountry United at backcountry united on Facebook and Instagram.

And we also have some products for your snowmobile accessories for the skier and snowboarder and then we’re trying to expand our branded merchandise because not everybody owns a snowmobile. You know so. Sure. And I’m you know creative art director background so you know my big strength and all this has just been I can design logos tagline.

So that’s probably been the coolest part of you know all of this from the beginning and have an outlet for your creative juices.

Yeah. So you know if you if you have a snowmobile or you’re getting into snowmobiling and you want to learn about how to access that way and you know curious about some of the tools and equipment to enable those adventures hit me up I love making new friends I love sharing this this amazing life. And you know these amazing places with. With other people who are stoked to.

You know go on an adventure. And yeah that’s you know probably the biggest reason why I’m doing all this.

Hey that’s a good reason to get outside right. Absolutely. Awesome. Thanks again. I appreciate it. I look forward to just like fall on this journey. More and we’ll talk again sometime soon. Thanks so much.

Thank you.

All right everyone thanks for listening. I hope you join this conversation. I know it was a long one. But again it’s a complex topic and you know but it’s really an important one to us. As we mentioned in the intro you can find links to any related content that we talk about in the show notes to this podcast episode.

If you enjoyed the episode you are enjoying Colorado FM please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave review if you have a few moments if you prefer to get our updates via e-mail or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android. You can learn more at Colorado dot fm slash subscribe. Thanks again. I really hope you enjoyed this episode and we will see you next time.

Alan Bernholtz – Former Mayor of Crested Butte and Minister of Fun for Eleven Experience

alan bernholtz eleven experienceAlan Bernholtz on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast

So this is a really awesome episode, if i do say so myself!

I had the opportunity to sit down with Alan Bernholtz, former mayor of Crested Butte, fire jumping aficionado, and currently Senior Guide and Global Activities Director at Irwin Guides and Eleven Experience, also dubbed with the envious title of Minister of Fun.

This is one of those times where I wish I had hit record as soon as I sat down in the basement and live music venue of Public House, a relatively new establishment right on Elk Ave in CB.  We talked as much before I hit record as after.

First off, there are some f bombs, so be warned…

Next, despite being exposed as the resort riding Boulderite that I am, meeting Alan was one of the real highlights of doing this podcast to this point.  Hopefully I’ll have a chance to take a ride in Tucker the snow cat up to Irwin with him at some point.

We get into Alan’s history from arriving in Crested Butte and living in his van to being the mayor of town and owner of the largest guide service in the area.  We then get into Irwin Guides and Eleven Experience, the services they offer and what makes them unique.

Online, you can find Irwin Guides at irwinguides.com and on instagram @irwinguides and Eleven Experience at elevenexperience.com and on instagram @elevenexperience.

Be warned, don’t follow them unless you want to see lots of enviable powder shots.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find these guys or anyone else we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Alan Bernholtz of Irwin Guides and Eleven Experience.

 


Show Notes

[02:30] Public House, a great new establishment in Crested Butte

[04:00] Being mayor and jumping fire

[11:45] Why Crested Butte?

[14:00] Growth of a guide

[17:20] Lee Ervin – “The most authentic person I’ve ever met”

[21:30] Heading to France

[26:00] Running a global guide service out of Crested Butte

[30:00] More parades!!!

[35:00] What sets Eleven Experience apart

 


Relevant Links

Irwin Guides

Eleven Experience

Public House

Wagner Custom: Skiing with Alan Bernholtz

Flaushink Festival

Jean Pavillard

Remembering Lee Ervin – The Crested Butte News

Karl Denson

 


Related Episodes

Venture Snowboards

 


Transcript

 

Alan thanks fan for taking some time to come out and meet with me. Where are we now we’re in the public house.

Yep we’re in the Public House the music venue in the basement downtown Crested Butte. So you’re saying they just put this place in. Yeah we just opened up on July 3rd. Are you part of the public house. No. Now we are like any new place that’s also been has music in town. No it’s not we have everything. This is just the newest latest bar in our town and it’s been a really nice addition to have a music venue and a place that’s no different unique and got a good vibe. Nice now and we were just talking about how some of the acts that they’re already attracting seems like.

The word’s getting out and the owner here was making. You were saying the sound here is amazing.

So yeah you know we didn’t have a large venue so I think he was more of like let’s make it really sound really good. So I think he’s hoping that it’s something is talked about amongst small musicians like Karl Denson came and played and we want him to go back to his hometown and be like Man you should have heard it. The sound is incredible and we want people to seek us out. But you know with 150 seats we’re not going to bring in huge bands so we want we want titan musicians is what we want right now I say I keep saying we I have nothing to do with it.

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You have to live with it because because you benefit from it when something comes up. So let me I was I was looking into your background a little bit. You know I was doing some kind of internet stalking I guess and I came across a page that was put up by the Wagner Skis guys. Yeah. And I guess they had like your quiver of just beautiful skis that they’ve made for you. But the article started with this sense I’m literally quoting you says ‘if you ever have if you’re ever lucky enough to meet Alan ask him about jumping over fire at the Mardi Gras parade when you are mayor of Crested Butte.’

So. That’s we’re going to start. That’s where I was. I saw that and I was like that kind of ticks off a couple of boxes just like Mayor? Jumping over fire?

I want to hear all that stuff.

Well thank you Wagner custom for putting that quote in there I guess. But yeah you know we have a lot of parades in town and we do a lot of you know local kooky grassroots fun festivals and so we have one that didn’t just watch. It’s not true I have jumped.

First of all. Who doesn’t love fire?

like when they go out and you’re a pyro. But let’s face it if there’s a big fire and someone has a five gallon bucket of gas and throws it on there who doesn’t like that. Everyone cheers. Yeah it’s the same thing. I love fire just as much as anybody else. I love fireworks a little skiing. So put all that together and we have like I said these kooky little. Festivals and parades and we had a Mardi Gras parade one year and I was like yeah I’m going to jump over fire as my skis.

And so I jumped over like tiny little like trash can fire and of the back of a suburban. And then I got better at it and got bigger bigger and it got bigger and then we started doing all kinds of floats and once you kind of you know once you kind of get the idea of how to do fire safely and you know how to do like a big water feature.

You can kind of do a bunch of different stuff in a parade with those things you know in a moving float. So it just became a challenge like what can we do every year different and different and then it got to be like well you know damn this is hard to come up with some different time and then I kind of picked up the for Mardi Gras.

I always just jumped over fire. It was the simplest thing for me to do as winter right. And it was simple and it was a couple of years it was like super dangerous like the jump and like people come with my wife me like What the fuck. Like how could you let Alan do that. Like that’s dangerous. Like he’s in to hurt himself.

And I never have. By the way right. And I got lucky. And then it got to be where we got it was really kind of safe. I’d almost say boring.

And so then I got to stop doing it because you mastered it.

So when say master anything I’ve mastered nothing in my life but I moved it to from the Mardi Gras parade. I moved it to another parade that we have called flouncing which is the ski season and that was like a five person parade. Mardi Gras was like maybe a 10 person pretend float parade. OK. So but everyone’s here it’s like spring Mardi Gras party. And show us your you know killer flower. It’s like end of the season you can’t give sking away. We tried that. No one came. So I was like I’ll jump fire in the Flaushink parade just kind of breathe life into that one and flossing is one of my favorite parades because it’s still doing some flowers.

Still happens and it’s been going on a long time. Long before I ever got here. And it is like this. It’s the flushing of of the winter and you’re it’s spring and it’s totally made up and it’s like supposed to be Slovakian or whatever the fuck it’s supposed to be and it’s not. It’s just like this. We’re going to party we’re in a polka dance. And the old timers all come out. They do like these old slide shows and they talk about the old times like you know before the left right when the skier was just beginning. And like the roots of Crested Butte as it is today not as a mining town. So right.

I just love it because it’s like really authentic little festival or little festival. Right. So and I did there and then I kind of stopped doing it. I remember the first year I didn’t do the Mardi Gras parade. I was just sitting there in the crowd I was all dressed up in costume and then the parade went by and someone like oh you know that wasn’t that great of a parade and someone says no no eight hours is going to come by with his flow.

And I’m like I’m not I’m not going by this year.

So yeah it goes on like the whole jumping over fire thing could go on forever. And the mayor so that’s pretty much how I was elected. I’d like to say that like everyone was like oh Alan’s got these great values and we want a mayor that’s going to. But really it was just like they knew me because I jumped over fire. Right. And so when I got elected mayor and then I went to Washington D.C. and testified and from the United States Senate to try to you know reform hard rock mining in our country because there’s a mine that threatens to be in our town. It’s only a few miles away that they’ve been fighting for you know four or five decades and there is you know they’ve been trying to reform this bill from 1872. And so we were the poster child Crested Butte as the poster child of mining reform.

He brought the mayor from Juneau who is like we love mines like yes. And then there was some some environmentalists and then there was some mine experts and so we all sat in this panel and like I had giant tanlines it was middle of winter you know and like I’ve just been skiing every day and I was like I went to D.C. It’s like LA. Better suit you know like I need a suit. So I went and bought a suit. And like every senator came and look who’s been skiing. Where would you go. Would be out in the sun because the giant tanlines. But I feel like it represented pretty well. I was on C-SPAN which is you know a big deal for me and I was like wow that was so cool what an honor like. And if you’re in D.C. as a mayor you can like you know you get the you get the key to the VIP bathroom you know it’s pretty sweet like you could do stuff.

And they’re like What are you on the mayor. OK come on in. You know like wow like this is great. I mean you can get free drinks or anything. You like. You know you walk down the hall and meet a congressman. Can knock on their door and I’m them to me and they say hold on. No I hear you because you’re an elected official even if it’s a town of 50 200 people. It was cool. Especially the local Colorado people senators and congressmen were always all ears. So then they came back and I was like walking down the street and a lot of you know there’s a lot of young people in our town a lot of parents visit.

And there’s this girl and she’s like oh hey. Mom this is our mayor. And I’m like fresh from back from D.C. I’m like Hell yeah I’m the mayor. Like this is great. And she’s like I’m like I just represent in our town on a national level and she just goes ‘he jumps over fire.’

I was like That’s it. You know perfectly clear to me right then like we elect people because we don’t want to do that stuff right we don’t want to sit through boring meetings and talk about policies and talk about expansions and we go to certain means that we’re interested in. But basically what we want somebody who represents us and abroad level sure and jumping over Feierstein to represent a lot of people maybe more than just in Crested Butte. And so that’s how I got elected.

What year was that like. What years were you married.

I was mayor. Well I got elected the town council 1999. And then I was on to serve for six years to two elections and then I ran for mayor in. 2005. OK. Right on.

So for years I didn’t make it through two elections there as well and you know I never lost I never I don’t believe in career politicians I don’t think someone should be. I don’t think our forefathers were like Yeah this is going to be your career some day. You know we were they were farmers and they were they were people that were like hardworking people that represented our country. They didn’t think that a senator was going to be in office for 35 years and be making like a ton of money doing it.

And so after 10 years in office I was like if I haven’t done what I’m going to do I’m probably not going to do it. So I step down. Right

And unfortunately you didn’t bring your fire jumping to the steps of the Capitol that might have made a step. Maybe. I think probably me. Yeah probably yeah. So after so you would come across to be.

From what I kind of read you had kind of hopped around you had looked all over place. What was it about. Crested Butte at that time that that made you kind of stop. And did you think at that time you were like This is the place for me or. Is it. Are you surprised that you’ve been here for nearly 30 years.

Well let me answer a couple of questions in there but the reason I came here and the reason not the reason I came. The reason I stayed here is the same reason I’m here now. Like it hasn’t changed that much which is the people the community here and the values that they have here are just in line with the way I think. Not all the way all the time and I mean you and I were chatting earlier and it’s not not the same as it was.

But you know I came here from Aspen and I lived and grew up in Southern California I moved to aspirin looking for like a ski town. I thought it was cool and then I realized that wasn’t the community that I wanted to be and I wanted to be in a smaller community of people that really took care of each other a little bit more although when I was living in Aspen it was great we had potlucks and you know there was it wasn’t it wasn’t all like ritzy and it was.

But there was still an underground community that’s still there today. But when we’re here and everyone would just say hi to me. And I was like walking on the street like take a second look like he’s talking to me like you don’t even know me. Right. And so I was like well this is really cool inviting town and I’ll go check it out. I do not think I was going to stay at all. I just thought I’d be here for a little bit at that time I thought I was maybe a farmer.

Gotcha. All right. But you ended up at the mountain. And.

I don’t know how many years like skipping forward to but after kind of putting in some time here and working on the mountain. You got into guiding and you actually did you start.

Crossing the mountain guides. I did. When you see on the mountain what do you what do you mean you know where you were. I think you were working out and mean the ski area. The scary mountains. So you realize there’s a lot now in the mountains.

Yeah right. That’s hilarious.

So well no I came here and you know I got a job like cooking at that cafeteria lied about the job a lot about my experience I was 20 years old. I came in. I was kind of late in the season late in the hiring process. Like we’re done come back on Wednesday we’ll see we got came on Wednesday. Guys like you have a good breakfast. You know I get my breakfast. So he hired me. I got a pass. I was super psyched. Started work and he’s like you’ve never cooked breakfast day in your life. And the guy was super pissed. For like a week and then he just like taught me to be a breakfast cook. And I just did that and then worked. There was like a mountain guide program they had. It was like a ski school kind of thing.

And the school director was a Swiss mountain guide you know like certified non guide and he kindof took me under his wing I was just getting back interested and I just learned about snow and avalanches and really kind of becoming interested in that getting a little away from the crowds a little bit I get into softer snow and kind of that that freedom kind of feeling. And he took me under his wing as my mentor and just like taught me kind of pushed me down that guide path and then worked on ski patrol for a while until. I resigned. Forced resignation from Steve Mitchell and started working for him full time as a guide and then. Starting my own guide service Crested Butte Guides 1998 while it was like meeting that guy really sent me down a path absolutely yeah.

Jean Pavillard, yeah.

Great dude it’s amazing how one encounter can do that.

Yeah he uses an incredible guy still is. I mean he’s still ready. We don’t we’re not really that close and not in touch really. Right. But he had a huge effect in my career and my life. So when you’re guiding back in.

I guess. So is this like mid 90s this kind of thing. You know this. Like what was the crowd like in Crested Butte at that time. Because I know there’s you know obviously like we all know about the growth that’s going on now. We talk about this morbid but what’s crested like you know at that point is it still feeling growing pains or is it you know or is it still pretty small.

It was still pretty small you know and I think in 1988 when I got here it was 700 people living here and I bet in 1995 there was you know 900 people living here. Got to know there was a couple experts that seemed like a lot of my friends that I have now kind of moved in these different little chunks of time but it seemed like 93 and 96 97 a lot of people moved here. But I wouldn’t say that there was any kind of like.

A gold rush going on and the same problems we’re having now. We were having then I mean housing was tough. The wages were low the expenses were high and you know you get paid more and then rents more and then you get paid more and then rents more and so there’s still there wasn’t that many places to live then. And there’s not that many places to live now so it’s always been kind of you know typical kind of skis last resort town problems that we have just trying to keep housing force workforce keep everyone happy and you know when I first moved here I lived in my car lived in a van for four years. So it was easy easy for me to just go wherever I wanted to go. Right. That was great right.

Yeah. We were talking a little bit about the editor of the local paper who just who just passed away and how by go into that. Service that they had for him which was just last night or two nights ago two nights ago you were able to see how you know there are still people here who. Are. Chris history dates back in Crested Butte to when it was miners versus ranchers and you know the ski industry wasn’t even the dominant kind of force in the town or anything like that. What was it like to just kind of get in the room with some of these folks. Well you know and also like Who is this Who is this guy that passed away like that. Was such an influence. Yeah Willie Irving I think as the editor of the paper I think he was I think he was the most real.

Authentic person I’ve ever met. Like he did not there was not fake news. You know there was not there was a bunch of quotes and what they called it but it wasn’t regurgitated news it was all original. He was an original person and he influenced everyone around him by being original and he was very accepting of everyone. It didn’t matter if you were a Republican or a Democrat you know and we said this all night long and at this memorial service. But he brought the community together and he taught people community values and he didn’t make those community values up. He believed in what was going on here. And he just was kind of like the guy who just kept going and spread it because he was an influential position as editor of the paper. And so he was able to really affect the town.

And at that time you know being so small I mean back then used to come to town and they would say Doug what do you do. And then you’d be in the paper. That’s what you did. And then if you’d said I’m an auto mechanic and you weren’t it didn’t matter that’s what you were going to be in town. And so people would come to town and say I’m a sign builder. Even though the last thing he did was sign bill but they didn’t have any training at building signs and then that guy you know built in Terra build signs for 15 years because that’s what the newspaper labeled him as we know small town back then and that’s what Lee kind of kept that going in and spread that onto the next Ed. And then the next editor and the editor of the paper that we have right now as a mayor you know you have to hate the editor of the paper because they’re assholes and they’re just trying to get a story.

And I love the guy you know. I mean he he made my life miserable but he kept me honest he kept me on the line. He asked good questions. He still didn’t today. He loves doing it. And then you know there was an editor before him that was like one of my best friends was at the paper I ran for mayor and the guy didn’t even endorse me. Right. You know that’s right. Eddie

I’m bringing it up. I have not forgot. He

knows every time I talk to him I bring it up but you know and so I think that that shows what kind of people we have in this community. It’s like just because you’re my friend. He thought someone else would do a better job at that position. And that’s what he did. He did his job and for this community not for himself not for any benefit. You know by voting for me because he’s my buddy endorsing me I should say. That would have been him just not toeing the line right. Right. And so I think our community still does that. I don’t know a lot of people here. You know there’s a lot of young people here a lot of new faces but I kind of feel like everyone’s still kind of toeing the line and like pulling out their best colors and that’s why I still live here. That’s why I haven’t left. Right

. Yeah.

You were actually mentioning how you did actually end up leaving with your job for a couple of years to help start some operations overseas. And then you came back to Crested Butte and. You kind of it gives you some perspective right. Step away from something you come back like the rate of change and what kind of started happening around this town and even just like a couple of years gone recently.

Yeah for sure and to be clear you know like we moved overseas start operation like I’m a ski bomb. I moved. They sent me to France to started a risky operation. You know I still ski bombs during the time that the place is skied as many days. I passed through the year and I don’t want to die I went corporate or anything like that because I didn’t. I just never. Maybe I should try that. But I just never gone down that road you know I just try to follow the path of what I love and what I think I’m capable of doing. But going away for two years and I didn’t want to go. I was like super reluctant. Like no I’m not leaving my town this is where I this is my roots this is where I live now. And you know I fought it and fought it and my boss met me on a business trip one time.

Higgins sounds corporate and he’s just like shut the fuck up and go to France like shut up this in November and he’s like I want you there by Christmas. And so I dragged my feet. I was like come on and he’s like it’s going to be a great experience like you little baby right. Sack up and go there. And so I brought my family over there very supportive of the family. We all lived over there. And after like one year to go there for one year and get it going after one year I was like Hey man is it cool if I stay for another year because it was awesome. Right. And he’s like yes. If you want to years differently or so coming back Chris I mean the town or the lodges over there the Chalet is 50 people and has like one restaurant sorta.

Oh OK. And then the town I lived in which is about you know 10 15 minutes away was 350 people that had the bar and had the restaurant you know. And so it was very small. And not only that like their French you know I was in France and so like the like oh Bernholz is that German I’m like yeah you know my dad was German my mom was Polish and there’s some Russian in there and they’re like oh that’s cool. Yeah my dad was French his dad was French and his dad was French or French. So like super hardcore you know roots the values you know about the French that’s why they speak French because they’re like we don’t want to learn English our language is the best we’re French.

And weather is known globally or not. We speak French. This is where we’re from totally and in the Savoi where we lived in the Terran days you know where the lodges and where we skied it vowed there and stand for like even being French isn’t good enough you know. It’s like this Savoi right. So I be like what about this guy you know he’s a guy. I know he lives down there. Oh no he’s not Savoi. You know I was like OK that’s cool man whatever like hardcore.

I came back here and to go back to your question which was after being gone for a couple of years you come back to town and you know it wasn’t it wasn’t. It

hadn’t crested at that point but you could feel the wave moving you know you can feel the number of people increasing in the area maybe not in the town the town numbers may have stayed relatively the same.

But outside unincorporated Gunnison County you could feel it is growing and swelling and it just you know changing sure but the like I said the great thing about it was that in underneath all that minutia the core was still like all these people that are fucking awesome people that have these great values that toe the line and follow their path. And so I came back and it was different but it wasn’t a bad place to be. It was different and if you don’t expect things to stay the same then you should just watch. You know Mayberry RFD because that’s only TV’s only thing doesn’t change right.

It just changes and if you just if you try to help and try to you know be part of what’s changing. Then I think you can affect the way it changes and if you want to be an asshole and if you want to be some stubborn you know crotchety old guy back in the day you know then you’re not then that sucks you know. But if you want to be like hey you know we used to do it. What about this and someone some millennial guys like well what about we could do it like this to be even more effective and you know like great let’s do that. And I think that’s what our town’s all about. Because when I got here it was just a whole another layer of guys that were crotched who didn’t want to see it change now and then before they got here it was the same and you know I mean in the 70s the hippies came in and took it over.

And you think all those guys from like the 60s were like No thug all these hippies are moving into our town. So I think it’s all and it’s all an attitude. Attitude is everything.

Right. And from my. Youth so.

I’m going to be real careful not to sound corporate. But you know as you’re guiding businesses you kind of grew and they evolved into a few different things including the wing guides. You know what I could just imagine that.

Makes a really amazing group of people. And that is it must be a spectacular place to work. But. What do you think about. Crystal beauty or even Colorado. Around the world you know started you’ve looked at operations in different places. What is it about Colorado and then in general that that makes even an international operation want to be based here. Like what you know the people there getting the the lifestyle that they get to kind of have the people you attract and also just you know just the awesomeness of you’ll be your guide in this area I guess.

Yeah well I mean we’re not you know we’re not you know we’re not going to be on a stamp. You

know we’re not Yosemite we’re not grand teton we’re not Rainier.

All these beautiful wonderful national parks and just areas that are just really well known for some of the guiding senses. You

know we’re not we’re not that spa we’re the we’re in the shadow of all those places and I think that when people want to get kind of down to what the activity is really about and not necessarily a feather in the cap because we’ve got no feathers you know we’re checking this feather that’s a Krispy Kreme.

I mean a featherless chickens were taken with feathers.

You know just the place it’s like we love doing what we’re doing and you know comes back to the community a community thing. I don’t know why our boss was like I want to make our global headquarters in Crested Butte. You know I mean this is the first operation that he started up guyed operation hospitality brand and he just kept it here you know our insurance this year insurance people here are our directors here like our headquarters this year and you know we are a company that has properties in different countries around the world and so it’s a bitch to travel to them and this is where we all start from and we’ve never really looked at anywhere else.

We’ve never been like let’s move our place. You know some you know some corporate land like Boulder.

Yeah because logistically would be closer to probably international airport or something like that.

So I think I mean the skiing here is phenomenal. The climb in here is really good you know we’re near the Black cane and but we don’t climb in the black rain much. We’re just we’re just another guide service that’s in in the state of Colorado you know people come out they will horseback riding they go rafting they go rock climbing. Now they go mountain biking. And I think that people come here and they they do all those activities that you can do in countless towns around Colorado but they don’t have crested butte you know and they come here and the town is very nice and it’s welcoming and you know you can just be yourself. You don’t have to. Doesn’t matter how you dress I don’t care if you drive a Porsche or if you drive a truck or whatever I don’t care.

You know sometimes I care if you have a really nice bike like a townie right. Not a mountain bike but if you townies supersonic that’s going on a little envious but that’s about it. I mean I think that that part of things that part of the whole package I think is what people really like. They come here they can just be themself they can wear whatever they want to wear whether it’s a T-shirt or collared shirt or baseball cap or slicked back hair like we don’t care. And I hope that never changes that we’re always accepting of people because it doesn’t matter what you look like it matters how you act.

Right. So are you ever going to jump fire and run for mayor again don’t you. I don’t know.

All right Mayor again but I’d love to jump over far. Yeah fuck yeah yeah fire is good fire is good. I mean last year I came out what happened. I was all poised. And something happened you know because where I work at Irwin guides and 11 that we have this snow cat that has rubber tracks that we drive into town we pick the guests up at our lodge and then we drive them into the mountains we go cat scan. And so once we started using that vehicle superhigh off the ground and it’s got this giant flat top that just made my life so much easier and safer. That was great. Without that I need to really think about how to jump over the fire because it’s just got to be so simple because I can catch big air. Enough air. And so yeah I’d like to jump over fire. I’d like to do all kinds of stuff. I’d like to have more parades so we can do because Fourth of July’s has gotten out of control. You know the parade.

Control you hear about that one from everybody.

And so we used to do one every year called the bizarro world float because we just didn’t want to be any part because it just became like every business just goes down the street and they’re promoting their business which is totally fine. But I was like You know it’s about having a good time. Right.

And so we do these floats like what are you guys and we’re like we’re bizarre or like you representing them like fun. We’re just doing something for fun like there’s an advertiser you know. Yeah.

So actually we do where there’s no like no 4th of July paraphernalia. You know it’s all Halloween costumes you know and we just do crazy. We used to do crazy kooky stuff. So it’s like he watch Richard Nixon slide down a water slide into a pool or you watched the Easter Bunny go through a fire breathing dragon and get spit out the other end you know or Tinkerbell go across a zip line over fire wear her tutu you know burned a little and then into a pool. So that’s the kind of stuff that I thought was you know what was I was attracted to this town about and before the I totally working. Like

people love it. And the businesses like it and the community seems to like it. I mean a lot of us stay away. Next it’s so crowded but we’ve got a lot of flow. We get a lot of parades going on and we just need more. Yeah. Which does have one a month for a month you’re like a big for a guy like that it brings it brings out people you know and it’s like fun and like you know one you’re the talker that that’s that’s OK. That can drive in the street and that and that that I want to hear more about that after this. OK. The flower show you like I was telling you earlier you know the Flushing. So like when you’re on back that’s on our story. But Tucker we just drove tuckered out. It’s all squared out.

You know it’s just like a giant vehicle. And we we just pick kids up hey you want to get on the. Yeah. Just get on. So by the time we went down and the parades here you know they usually go up and back because they’re so small you can’t sure you can’t do it just one time would be really boring. So and then we just had all these kids like hanging out and riding on top of this Tucker and I was just like you know how fine like these kids get to be in a parade. Like it’s awesome. Yeah that’s great yeah.

I’ve lived in you know big places in small places and when you get towns that still hold onto that almost like Norman Rockwell Americana thing you really connect with it because it’s awesome and it’s kind of pure right like you get there and you get like little kids or you’re not worried about the permit or you know whatever. Like people are just having fun and jumping on the roof and doing that.

That’s the same because the permit thing and it’s really it’s really changing. I think that they don’t want to do a parade once a month. I think they don’t want to close off the main street. I think a lot of businesses are like it hurts my business a lot. But I think that if you think a little bit bigger than you and of your nose you realize that if you have a cool town that you shut this street down once a month we only have one main street in one street in town that has any kind of real commerce. Now I’m not taken away from the other zones that sell you know weed and an auto mechanic like there are other businesses but like our main tourist street is one street. And if people are coming in they love it they’re going to keep coming back and not come in for one day.

If we close down for one day. Honestly I do not think that we’re going to put anybody out of business. I haven’t seen it. I think it’s just that business owners are complaining because they’re having a bad. I think it’s unrealistic. I think it’s an irrational to think that way. And I think that when someone opens up another business in town they’re not your competition. The next are neighbors not your competition. It’s the next town it’s the other ski town that’s that we’re competing with. How can we be a better ski town than those those places so we have good restaurants then what people want to come here. And we have a good product. We have a good town to be in. We have a good everything and we win.

If you just have one really good restaurant. Everything else sucks then no one’s going to come back here. No one’s going to want to be here. They’re going to go to these other ski towns around the country. Right. So I think. I think it’s important to like think bigger than your own business and to think bigger than your own four walls when it comes to community. Right. And like the business owners these aren’t people that just got here. These are people who have been here for a long time so I try to respect that. Like hey man maybe this guy knows Eli’s been in business for 40 years. Sure. But I just don’t see it. I got Sandy earlier. I think we need to make decisions on how can we make this community a good place. Right. And then tourists and community members will benefit. Yeah and I mean. The general just like is that.

This is a crowd favorite manlike. I mean it is a. People. One of people’s favorite places to come visit.

Everyone I speak to but it’s competitive in Boulder. Yeah. Yeah. There are a lot I don’t mean to. It’s a great place.

As long as you don’t go from there and wants to live there. Exactly. Everyone from like half the people in this town.

No but. Yeah. No I don’t know. I mean I think. We talk about the living guys for a little bit 11 11. So you know. You started actually a couple other guy companies and it evolved into some other like we want to get in every step. But like you’re there’s urban guides is a town of Fastrack.

Through it all she works for a company. When I first started on Pavier adventure The Edge started my own business when I saw the opportunity to get a Forsters permit called Cresta Amoun guides.

There was a few other guides services in the valley. I ended up purchasing a few of them and then to buy an adventure. My mentors business and then became like the largest guide service in the area. Did that for a while. And you know I always wanted to try something new and also just getting kind of I kind of ran into where I could had kids. Was

the mayor I was like holy shit I’m really busy. I got to give something up. Mom sold the business to one of the guys a few months later. Back then it was called. Irwin back country guides hoga which is our which is our current operation now that I worked for. They started up cat Irwin Lodge was a Keskin operation that went out of business in 2002 and 2008. You know they bought it in 2006. We started back up in 2008. They asked me to come and work there. I worked there and eventually we bought Irwin guides. We bought crest mountain guides back and started a company called Irwin guides and so then Irwin guides is like the guide service. And 11 is the adventure travel brand. So 11 is where you stay the lodges the properties and then Irwin guides in Colorado is the activities guide service gacha and within them. I

mean you’ve got a pretty sweet job it seems like a fun time in your job is to help them establish you’re in charge of the experience and making sure the people who come in. Have a great time and I was curious like you when people show up and the flights went smoothly and there’s tons of powder and then there’s a bluebird the next day it’s pretty easy like everyone’s happy. How do you manage when when things start getting difficult. Right. Like what. What is the the approach and what do you guys do when can you get there and it’s kind of raining or no ceilings like too slow to go up in a helicopter or things like that. What

  1. That’s a great question you come up on your own. Yeah you know that’s actually a really good question because I think a lot of a lot of guide companies a lot of guides services and a lot of guides kind of missed that. That little piece there and I think that’s great. As

someone who once traveled I’m sure a lot of people listening there if they travel for sports that are weather based. Whether it’s surfing or snowboarding or skiing or whatever. We’ve all been skunked. We’ve all traveled halfway around the world to get there and spent a bunch of money that we just saved up for this supposedly once in a lifetime trip and there was no snow. There was no waves. It was raining or.

Well you know like I was saying about the community here. Like why are you here. What kept you here. You know it’s the people right. And so like 11.

It’s the same. It’s the people the guides and beyond it’s the whole staff that really make this thing incredible and like why you come here and have a great time and so I could go off on this tangent for a long ass time. But you know when we started I got hired by this woman Missy ox’s she’s phenomenal still in town. She’s she doesn’t work for us anymore she left and went on to bigger and better things but she hired me and then a couple months later shy this is getting Billy Rankin. So it was just us and then really close after that we hired this woman named Clare Martin. So Billy Keira and myself all still work here and we were able. Three people you can make any attitude you want you can be all this socks or this and that. But you know Billy’s like I would I would classify him as like the Jewish Santa Claus.

And he sat on town council with me and you know curas has got a really bright spirit but a realistic goal. So she kind of like we all would help each other out we had a we had an office all three of us instead of having our office faced a desk we faced inward. So we all looked at each other and we just play the grateful that grateful that Grateful Dead Grateful Dead and she would just sit there you know some headphones and stuff and I’m like Hey Gary you know what do you listen to. And she’s like why even ask her to the Grateful Dead. And I was like I’m not asking what band you listen to him asked me what year a Grateful Dead you I’ll listen. And so it’s like being the big joke and Billy he’s still you know he’s still our director snow safety director and beyond you know his title is Business Card isn’t big enough to what he does for the Colorado operation and where I kind of spread out and started doing things around the world.

He focused on here and he taught me so much about. I mean no bad days what a cliche but like just having a good time no matter what we’re doing. And so skean might suck. We can’t guarantee the skiing is going to be good. You said you know you go to Mexico and it’s flat you can’t go surfing but you know we taught it very early on that it’s about the attitude of having a good time. So you know what the schemes are not good let’s where a bunch of costumes. Let’s go back country skiing let’s blow something up. I mean the ATF isn’t listening but you know within our regulations you know let’s go do this some advice control work and let people witness it from a safe distance you know and like let’s do something that’s not just hey this sucks like having know if you’ve ever been guided but if you have a guy who’s psyched to be what he’s doing like authentic real really excited like fake not being like cool good the I’m getting paid for like.

He doesn’t care because he’s not working a corporate job. And I say he but she them you know they’re just out there because we have a we have a girl that works for us too like if you’re having a bad day you want her to be your guide like it’s super fun. And all of them are like that all the guys like super pumped men so sometimes it’s really tricky.

You know I take my wife to Irwin I never take her up there when it sucks. I always take her up there when it’s good. So she’s like I come home from work and I got exhausted. She’s like Oh yeah I bet she really I would ski which Baroda and when you Fazl but like sometimes it’s just really tricky skiing. And so you know Billy was always like it doesn’t matter what the skins like. It all matters what we do and how we have fun doing whatever we’re going to do. And so we started just doing that from the very beginning and it is just it is just something that’s our mantra and our ethos of what we are. And so all the guides come on and you know guides are we can be a little you know egotistical and like we’re cooler than most and you know now that I’m so old I’m not cool or the most and I’m not stronger than everyone so it’s kind of like been really humbling.

And what we do is we can enjoy what we’re doing and really enjoy it we’re doing like waking up and you know people say like I never feel like I’m going to work because I love my job so much like that’s true about my job. My

job actually kicks ass. You know I’m not a real estate real estate broker who loves selling real estate. You know I’m somebody who just loves to go skiing and biking and climbing and I think that’s what makes 11 different is that it’s the people and it’s not just in Colorado it’s like wherever you go. And then. So this is Yealands all low. My last example because I don’t know if I’m rambling on I might ramble.

You can it this.

I don’t care so I’m we’re in we’re nice and you know it was like on my last trips I did last year. And these guys have been skiing together for 15 years. You know they knew the Queen program. They had been all over the world. They knew what was going on and we had really just crappy weather you know just couldn’t we’ve got like a half a day and then we got another half a day.

And so I mean it sucked it was like sliding sideways and this is like in May so it’s not like when it’s it’s like almost raining. You know it’s warm it’s light out all the time and so like fuck it and let’s just have like Olympics and so we had this giant Olympic event where we rode bikes and we rode bikes. We shot ski. We felt Pong and it got to be the end like you know and I’m not I’m not saying that you have to get drunk to have a good time but like it start off during the day no one drink or any of that and it moved into a party at night and no one gave a shit anymore about the Olympics. And we just had the best time and then they’re just to leave and I was like hey what about you know laser tag.

And I think it’s you know it’s it’s all cold and blowing sideways outside and you know it’s over. And I was like. Let’s let’s just play urban laser tag and play inside and so we play laser tag and they were like crying. Leaving and the guy said to me. I skied for two half days at a six and this is maybe the best skiing ship I’ve ever had. And they just had a great time. And I tell people this a lot like we’re having a good time. You know we’re having a good time. It’s created there there a lot of times they make our good times happen because without them we couldn’t be doing what we’re doing. Sure. And their energy of having a good time makes us have a good time too and maybe it sounds crappy on a podcast like these guys when I scanned they went play laser tag and that was such a good time. But it’s more than that. It’s hard to describe it but it’s like super fun. Right

. Well that’s why it’s called experiences not 11 guaranteed days are. I mean and travelers know that right. The unexpected part of your trip is is usually the part you remember. I mean you go out to go see some country and you think you’re going to like this architecture museum or whatever you went there to see but you found something walking down the street or some person or whatever and that’s just kind of what it’s all about. And so you know you probably do get to benefit from your clients being adventurous people that are open to it but you’ve got to still make it happen. And I think that’s a lot of motivation. Like

I said Attitude is Everything is something I’ve been living by since I found this sticker when I was on tour. You know attitude is everything and there was a guy I was working with them and I was a crappy day and everyone else was Skeeter and he’s like oh man I’m like a skeeter and I’m like what you gonna do. It’s like I’m going to go back to my room and work. I was like well we should go do something like to do my going horseback riding on horseback riding my you want to drive the buggy or Nylander while you’re like OK I’ll go skeet shooting he’s like Yeah skeet shooting. That sounds great went out there and the guy was a dead shot. He was super good at it. And his daughter got back from skiing and so he’s like you always go skeet shooting and I think it made his day from being super Borensztein in a beautiful lodge.

I mean it’s beautiful in there. But you know kind of something you can do at your own house to have a day that he had a great time like teaching his daughter to shoot a gun better than she was shooting. And so those kinds of things. Yes it is experiences and I think 11 really are bosses. Vision has always been whatever you guys are doing. I wanted to keep doing what you’re doing. You know is this this guy that is like. He makes decisions I’m like wow is was going to work and it always works. He’s very intelligent but he’s very visionary about having a good time. He likes to have a good time right. He likes to go out and do activities.

He stays fit and you know he’s a real person that likes to have real fun. And so if I’m going to go to Mexico to go surfing and it’s flat what am I going to do. That’s not evidence. What else can I do. And I think that’s been the whole behind the scenes with 11 that’s really kept us one unique to all of us energize to keep doing our jobs because it’s so great. And like what can we do better. What can we do different.

Well that sounds amazing man and I don’t know if that’s a good place to leave it. I mean unless there’s something else you wanted to mention I I really appreciate you taking the time. And thanks to the public house people for letting us use their their stage. People have been walking around here. What are these guys doing. People are just curious about.

I didn’t ramble too much and hopefully you get some help. It was interesting I was trying to make it interesting. You

know I think I think so and you know it really says a lot about you know I think people in Colorado are you know they’re curious about towns they’re curious about people and they’re curious about lifestyle and I think and also like the history of the town so I really think we gave a little bit of everything on that. So cool. Thanks a lot man Doug Narong appreciate it. And you know if anything comes up feel free to have you on any time. All

right. We’ll be all right and soon. No no. Exactly. Thanks.

All right.

Thanks for listening and hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. As we mentioned in the intro you can find any links related to the content we mention in the show notes to this episode. If you enjoy this podcast please subscribe to follow us on iTunes and leave a review if you have a few moments if you prefer to get our updates via e-mail or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android. You can learn more at Colorado.fm/subscribe. Thanks again. Hope you enjoyed this podcast of so and we will see you next time.

 


 

Romp Skis – Custom Skis Built in Crested Butte

Romp Skis

Caleb and Morgan Weinberg of Romp Skis on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast!

This episode is another from my recent tour of Colorado. While in Crested Butte I was able to catch up with Caleb and Morgan Weinberg of Romp Skis.  Romp builds custom, hand-crafted one-of a kind skis for a bunch of really happy clients, and it was a pleasure to have the chance to tour their factory and meet these guys.

Every company has a story, and we get into the history behind Romp and some really interesting twists in their entrepreneurial journey.  We also talk about what you can expect as a client as far as the process of buying custom skis and how they make sure you’re getting what you really want.

Finally, Morgan gets into some of the evolution of design and material and what new skis they are looking forward to this season.

Online, you can find Romp at rompskis.com and on instagram @rompskis.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find these guys and check out their amazing gear in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Caleb and Morgen Weinberg of Romp Skis.

 


Show Notes

[01:45] What brought Caleb and Morgan to Crested Butte

[02:50] Doing business in Crested Butte

[03:45] A ski company born out of the recession

[05:30] Journey from copy to innovation

[06:30] A custom factory for custom skis

[07:45] How it works from the client perspective

[09:30] Becoming a government contractor

[12:00] What’s new in the lineup

[14:45] Who would they like to hear

 


Relevant Links

Romp Skis

Line Skis

10th Group Special Forces

Gunnison Western University

Reactive Adaptations

 


Related Episodes

Venture Snowboards

Erica Mueller of Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crested Butte Real Estate with Corey Dwan

 


Transcript

Morgan and Caleb thanks for having me over to the Romp ski factory here in Crested Butte. It’s really amazing to take a tour and see what your process is all about. And thanks for taking some time to talk to me. It’s always fun to show someone new around the factory.

So. You know why don’t you just start at the beginning like what brought you to Colorado and then specifically Crested Butte. And what made you kind of want to stay. And then you know then we’ll get into how romp skis kind of came to be.

Well I moved to Colorado in 92 after graduating from high school to go to school in Gunnison Western. I went to school there. By the time I was done going to school I had moved to Crested Butte. So really even as I moved here to go to school my plan was pretty much always to stay. So once I found Crested Butte this is where I want to be.

This is one of those things where you just using college as the chance to relocate and you are good.

Yeah I mean I came on a college tour of Colorado and by the time I had been to Crested Butte I knew that wherever I could be the closest to here is where I was going to stay.

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So as far as doing business in Crested Butte like what’s it like growing a business in this little town and you know how’s the community for that.

I mean having a business in Crested Butte is a challenge. There’s basically nothing available here that is involved with our business. There’s no going to the store to get something that we don’t have. So we end up making a lot of things on our own. It’s easier to get raw materials and it has to get finished products here. So we we build a lot of things that in other places you could go by.

And that’s kind of the case in a lot of small towns I guess.

But you have to get a little more creative first year where you know where the end of the road here so. But I mean it’s a challenge but in some ways it’s part of the fun and it’s fun to build things so that’s what we do.

You’re building things from scratch. That’s kind of what you guys wrote to anyway right. So when we talk about Romp Skis was kind of actually born out of the recession you know what were you doing at that time and what was the opportunity that kind of opened the door for this. And did you really ever see it getting when you started did you see it get into where you are today?

Well, no we definitely didn’t see it getting to where we are today because we really didn’t have a when we first started there wasn’t really a plan for the future it was only us doing something for fun because we had that winter off and I were both working in construction and we didn’t have a house to build that winter.

So we were skiing a lot and Morgan found online a few web sites that were describing ways of new ways that people could come up with to build skis in your garage with basic woodworking tools which were things that we had because of a construction company that I owned. So between our woodworking knowledge and then we had some fiberglass knowledge from doing things with boats when we were kids we were pretty well prepped for making skis. So we started that winter I think we made eight pairs in Morgan’s garage and they were they were ugly and most of them fell apart.

But when we gave them to our friends many of which are you know lifelong skiers or pro skiers or people who work in ski shops or people with a lot of experience people loved their skis they really had a good time on them. And that feedback from our friends prompted us by springtime to rent a space and start a business. And that’s where that’s where Romp Skis started.

Gotcha. Was there anything when you saw these videos online where you were there with your experience were you able to see like I what we can do this part better in this part. Differently is there something no secret sauce to the recipe or is it just you know kind of extra care and some skill.

That’s what I mean when we first started it was just you know can we do this at all you know we we basically took skis we took shapes that we liked from other companies. We were both working on line skis at that time and we love their shapes and some of their ideas.

So we I mean when we were first starting we were copying things that other people were doing it wasn’t. It was hard enough just to try and put the things together and say to not you know we weren’t designing anything brand new. We basically took a shape that we liked and we made a little fatter and that was our first ski.  But now I mean with a lot more experience we do believe that our shapes and our designs are really innovative and they’re fun. And that’s really the goal is to make cool skis that are fun.

And I mean you know you were able to give me a little tour around a place which I appreciate is really cool to see your process and you’ve had to even innovate the process in the sense that since you’re customizing them you know a lot of your equipment is kind of adjustable and you know it’s ready to accommodate. I guess all the different you know your kind of designs but all the different clientele customizations that you’re doing. So that was pretty interesting to see for sure.

I mean most ski factories are designed to build things on repetition. So you’re going to make the same thing until you’re done making it and then you get to make something else. But we press between four and seven pairs each day and every one of them is basically completely different from the one before it. So all of our equipment from beginning to end has to be designed to take that change and be able to continue moving the products to the factory.

So we’ve had to adjust what regular ski factory would do to accommodate that.

So what’s the view from the client and what’s the process. Kind of like if somebody decides they want a custom pair of skis.

So people find us normally either online or it’s someone who’s here in Crested Butte and they stop in the factory but either way the process is the same. It involves 15 minutes to half an hour interview with the skier. And that interview is really about them as a skier not about the skis because most clients don’t know exactly what they want. And even if they do they may not be right. So we really try and help them give us the right information and then we design the ski for them and with their input of course.

But sure that’s the way our process works and it’s very successful. We very rarely get a pair that isn’t you know if people don’t love it.

Right. And you know we were looking at some of the skis that you’re making right now. You know these orders kind of came in at the tail end of last season. People have those in time for for this one. But you were kind of saying the turnaround time that you try to keep is we really try to keep our turnaround time.

Less than about five weeks. We want people to be able to order their skis and get them while they’re still excited and not forget about them and then have them show up in a package so we do get we do get backed up around Christmas time and things get pushed out a little farther. But in general we try to keep it in that month the five week zone.

Right. Right. And so you said you’re doing about seven pairs a day like what’s that translating to a year. How many skis are you making.

We’re hoping this year to be somewhere in the mid 300 for custom skis. And then we have we did a large order for 10th group special forces. So that was an additional 350 pairs so this year we were hoping to be somewhere up around 700.

Can you tell us a little bit more about that what that relationship was like with the 10th Mountain guys?

So its 10th group special forces and they are their base down at Fort Carson and that started by us making some custom skis from. For some retired guys are from 10th group and they came up with a design that had a special graphic that was commemoratives to a lot of things that had to do with that group. And after we had made their skis they opened up that graphic to anyone who was a member of 10th crew could could order a pair of those skis from us.

So a year or two after that the 10th was ready to order new skis for themselves and they had heard of us obviously because some of them were risky on our skis so we got the opportunity to bid on the skis along with a bunch of other companies.  And we won that bid and we were able to make those skis last year.

Gotcha. Is that something you think is that like a one off type thing or is it become ongoing.

Who knows. We’re hoping it’s going to be ongoing we’re bidding on more military skis.

Now it’s a slow process dealing with the military and the Department of Defense so we don’t really know the answer. We’re hoping to do more. They’ve been great guys to work with. Even though their process is slow the individuals have been really helpful in making our little company into a military contractor which is not from what I’ve gathered speaking to other people it’s not a common thing to have a company this small b military contractor so their helpers has been we couldn’t have done it without it.

Well that’s definitely got to be one of those entrepreneurial twists that you never saw coming out.

We never had any idea that we would ever do anything like that. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who had become a military contractor right.

That’s crazy. So what do you think. What are you excited about for the next like you know a year or two for the company you just kind of hoping for steady growth do you see any cool new products coming along.

So we’ve had a we’re always developing new skis so we’ve got our new ski for this year. It’s one time under foot and it millimeters and it’s flat tails. He was not a twin tip it’s a little different from what we have done in the past as well it has a longer side cut in it. We designed it as like a back country specific ski for skiing back country powder.

So it’s made to tour well we can build it with our lightweight core which is paulownia and carbon reinforcement. So that’s going to be I think a really fun ski for a lot of people it’s light and it works well and it’s. And it powder really well it’s light and cuts through you know variable conditions and stuff like that. And then the other thing we’ve started to do a lot more of is counter veil which is a vibration damp and carbon fiber which we license a few years ago and have been you know incorporating it incorporating it more and more into our skis and it’s a really cool material.

And it started to catch on with more people now.

So new shapes and new materials are just kind of always evolving and I’m sure the back country basically is definitely driven by your Christodoulou crowd in location here because it’s definitely a playground for that.

Yeah it’s you know Crested Butte shs really good back country access. There’s basically you know four valleys that lead out of town and dead end the roads dead end or closed in the winter time. So you can hike personal bill from there and access tons of stuff. So backcountry has always been you know an important part of our products and development.

Was there anything else you guys wanted to kind of mention about your process or customers. I mean I really appreciate getting a chance to take a look inside and know I guess maybe people should know that it is a retail location they can kind of stop by and see what the the process is and know a lot of people who are order in the high end custom stuff. They kind of want to. See what’s going on for real. But. You know one last question I do like to ask people when I’ve talked to them is you know is there anyone else that they think you know they’d like to hear kind of their story on this podcast. Is there anyone you guys have in mind that you’d like to hear. Oh yeah.

I mean as far as local Crested Butte kind of builders.

There’s Jake O’Connor here in town. He builds custom hand cycles for disabled athletes and he’s really pushed to the development of them and made them you know their off road and he does fat and plus tired ones and really cool bikes and he’s really taught himself how to do it.

And while it sounds like a crazy story I’ll have to hunt him down for sure. Thanks for that. You know one of the fun parts of how this cast is kind of you know gone beyond people I know or can find is people give me the best recommendations in their local town of two to go track down next.

But will listen guys. I know. Best of luck with this company and everything you have going on it seems amazing. I’m actually a snowboarder so that my my brother is actually he comes across to be a lot and I was like oh you got to look at these rough guys. So I was like OK. And thanks for making the time. I really appreciate it.

Well thanks for stopping by.

OK. Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy this conversation with the guys at rock. As we mentioned in the intro you can find the links to any related content in the show notes to this podcast episode. And if you enjoyed this episode please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and leave for review if you have a few moments if you prefer to get our updates via email or use the podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android. You can learn more and subscribe at Colorado.FM/subscribe. So thanks again. Hope you enjoyed this episode and we’ll see you next time.

 

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Crested Butte Real Estate with Corey Dwan

Corey Dwan Talks Crested Butte Real Estate on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast

Corey Dwan Crested ButteFor this episode I was able to sit down with Crested Butte real estate expert and local realtor Corey Dwan.

While most of my podcasts to date have dealt more with the Colorado lifestyle, as real estate values continue to soar this aspect of life in Colorado isn’t far from most people’s minds.

Whether it is the on-going conversation of affordable housing in resort communities, rising rents across the state, how to nail down your first home or whether now’s the time to buy that dream ski house, the current economic environment and growing popularity of Colorado affects everyone.

Of course, as is usually the case, the story behind the story is super interesting as Corey explains how his seven-year climbing odyssey eventually landed him in Colorado.  And I think everyone trying to achieve that lifestyle will appreciate his explanation of how real estate investments helped make it happen – and he did it with his money from being a checkout guy at Safeway!

So, just a really interesting tale of adventure mixed with business, which adds to the perspective he brings to his real estate practice.

And as far as real estate goes, Corey offers his insights into what’s going on in Crested Butte as someone who has seen both the ups and downs of the last few cycles.

Online, you can find Corey at crestedbuttecollection.com and on twitter @coreydwan.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find Corey or anything else we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Corey Dwan of Crested Butte Sotheby’s International Realty.

 


Show Notes

[03:30] A 7-year climbing odyssey brings Corey to Colorado

[06:50] From Denver to Crested Butte

[09:15] Historical perspective – How the economic downturn played out in Crested Butte real estate

[11:30] How remote workers and families are changing the local economy

[15:30] Growing pains, the challenges for Crested Butte going forward

[19:00] Current market conditions in Crested Butte

[21:30] Summer visitors exceed skier visits

 


Relevant Links

Crested Butte Collection

Crested Butte Community School

CrestedButte.gov – Affordable/Work Force Housing

Tommy Caldwell

 


Related Episodes

Erica Mueller of Crested Butte Mountain Resort

 


Transcript

 

All right. Hey Corey thanks for having me over man. It’s been a great tour of Crested Butte. I was really glad to catch up with you and thanks for being on the show because as much as the other kind of entrepreneurial stories that I’ve been getting into are you it was super fun. You know what’s going on in the real estate market is really on top of mind for everybody I think who’s either in Colorado or is potentially thinking about moving here.

We’ve got the dogs.

They say hey maybe it’s my soothing radio voice.

But you know so it’s super relevant. And you know I appreciate your insights. You know Crested Butte just it’s kind of a crowd favorite. So your perspectives. Thanks for having me appreciate. Awesome. But before we kind of get into that I love learning more about what brought people to Colorado because whether it was 30 years ago or 10 years ago where you know I moved here about three years ago where if you’re thinking about it you know there’s some common things that go on with it you know that pursuit of lifestyle and you know things that make Colorado really special. So what brought you here.

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Well that would have been that would have started in 91 but I was working for Safeway out in California. I started rock climbing back then and man over the course of a few years and some long trips I got frustrated with my job that I had there and quit. And that evolved into seven year climbing trip basically traveling all over the world and living off some investments that I was smart enough to do as a 21 year old kid. So that brought me to bend Oregon to run a climbing company afterward. You know and I kind of felt like I needed to settle down somewhere and from there I moved out to Denver. The front range.

Who came. Was there anything in particular that brought you to Denver. Was it work or just Colorado or climbing the mountains and being outdoors and actually real estate prices were pretty low in 99. Gotcha. And you know I bought my first fourplex out there for a hundred and seventy eight thousand dollars you know for four apartments. And that was the thing I talked to my real estate agent I said you know I’ve been traveling for seven years.

I don’t want to have a mortgage or be stuck just like why don’t you look into duplexes. I worked in some duplexes and it was still cost me a thousand bucks a month. I can’t afford a thousand bucks a month if I’m on the road for a year. So I said What’s the biggest thing I could buy and she said fourplex So we started looking for those. My first one I bought moved into and I was making 200 bucks a month living there. Catcha and I gave me the freedom to keep traveling.

Right. All right. So. So before you even really got into real estate from the brokerage side you were an investor. I was then. So you lived in one of the units were not the other three in that kind of bankroll your your lifestyle. Correct. How long did that kind of go on and did it just stay with that or did you end up growing into something that beyond what you even thought it would be.

Well it definitely grew into something I didn’t ever expect. But over the course of six seven years and I had a job at Safeway again it was a simple phone call from my old manager to out here and that just gave me health benefits and a paycheck. But that first fourplex turned into I don’t know 22 places eventually. Gotcha. So just through the course of learning what was a good investment. I kept buying and buying right.

And that in that perspective has got to be useful when you’re talking to people whether here or anywhere else of course.

Second Homes are a big part of the market and investments and not to mention you know that kind of advice to say somebody looking to achieve that lifestyle here. I mean I don’t know what kind of multifamily is available and how much different it is totally a free market. It’s a different world.

But you know you bring it sounds like you bring a lot of different perspective to the table than somebody who maybe has just been working as a broker their whole life you know. Yeah. That’s super interesting So how long do you stay in Denver. And what brought you the move to Crested Butte.

Well I was I was in Denver for almost seven years. And what brought me here was actually a phone call from some friends. We were on a 10 month climbing trip. Australia New Zealand and Thailand and they came back early and I kind of got them into the Denver market to invest in properties when they moved out here.

So they called me up and they say Crested Butte was going off you got to see this place. Check it out. I never heard of it. So when is this. This was. Oh for Oka when they bought their first places up here right after the million but the resort in March of 0 4. So when I got back from my climbing trip I came up here and absolutely fell in love of the place. I mean what is there to fall in love with.

Exactly.

It’s pretty amazing.

So I got really emotional did a bunch of investment’s speculation of the Muellers buy the resort definitely help spur my interest. Because I already was an investor and yeah that’s how I settled down here we started installing tile when I first moved here. He even installed a tile in the back room have to call it tamale.

Oh there you go. Do you still get tamales out of that or will it do for at least a year. I think he hooked me up big time. You got it. Dobbins gone now and new owners own it. So no more discounts. Gotcha.

I think doesn’t transfer. So I think you know it’s really interesting to hear that wall you always had this other stuff going on you are still kind of a side hustlin and doing other things and you know taking the chance to invest in you know it just really.

Sometimes people forget when you look back and like all these properties or this business didn’t just arrive here you know like really hard for it and you know make some smart and sometimes lucky decisions you’re in the right place or bad ones or bad ones. And that’s where I want to get to next so you’ll get in here in 2005. I mean you know we were just talking about this before. You know you saw the peak of the cycle and then you know the financial crisis and everything that happened in basically every part of the economy after that. And on top of that you’re like in a really small market of you know second homes and vacation homes. I mean what was that.

And you know what was Crested Butte real estate going through in 2008 well into in 2005 when I moved up here it was it was just starting in rock and roll obviously because smaller but the resort No 4. And our market lags behind the rest of the real estate market a couple of years. I remember phone calls with my dad warning me what are you doing buy in real estate there you know you may be at the top of the market. I said no we’re own own little bubble and so forth and talked myself out of his advice which I should listen to that point. So in 0 5 0 6 0 7 0 8 I mean the market was going absolutely insane. Right. Whereas in the rest of the country it was going down and it takes a while for people to realize they can hold on to their second third fourth fifth homes.

So by the time it got up here a couple of years after the crash elsewhere we started to play in the market with properties that people couldn’t hold on to anymore. Right. Yeah. And unfortunately I just bought at the top so I made some poor investments.

Right. And what what happened as far as the ski. Vacation economy at that time as well. Like we’re skier days way down way down. I mean this is not a cheap hobby.

No. I’m back in the day before the Mueller’s. You know they they obtained 500000 skier visits a year. Right. And shortly after. They purchased the resort we were down into the 200. Oh ok. Yeah. Well we’re still recovering from that and they don’t really they haven’t broadcasted really what they’re skier visits were last year even. But I know they are getting close to 400000 if not more.

Yeah I thought it was like around there. From research I did yeah. So what you’re saying is like that’s just getting back to where it was previously. Pre-Muellers Yeah. Gotcha. And so that’s hard you know these are hard businesses and these smaller economies are dependent on you know tourism and things like that. There’s not that there’s other not other companies here and other things going on but they’re dominant. And you know it’s a big number of jobs and a big driver.

And one and one thing we have now is a multitude of families that have moved up here with people being able to work from home. That’s changed our economy. Sure. Because even if we go into another decline we have families here that are working remotely and they’ll sustain our restaurants a lot better than they have in the past. Sure. Because we were we depended on skeer visit Solway back then or summer visitors right. Sure. But like you said like year round residents people who come work from anywhere like they’re starting to become a reality of the last 10 years I guess. Yeah. In Crested Butte in other towns.

When I moved here I believe there is less than 300 kids in school in 0 5 and now we’re up to over 700. Wow. So it just goes to show that winners a long haired drapery and I get a lot of people who moved here with their kids because it’s the most amazing place to raise a child that can ride the bus when they’re five years old.

And I was I was just talking to somebody else last night and he was he was talking about how adding the high school changes that whole dynamic because before that you may move here for this little sweet spot when your kids are certain ages. Right. But you had to go somewhere else. Or you had to commute to Gunnison. Right. Which would be horrible. Right.

Not because as I’m just talking about it’s only half an hour away. But when you live somewhere where you drive three to five minutes a day a half hour is a long way. Exactly

. And so so things like that so having these full time residents has precipitated adding things like a high school which means you don’t have to leave when your kids exactly which gives you that whole perspective. Hey we can live here like basically indefinitely. Yeah.

And the kids get a great education because it’s one of the best schools in the country. Yeah. Literally because it is.

Yeah. With 700 kids or whatever it is ratios are probably pretty epic. And I know I can’t even imagine what the life of these classes the day.

I mean powder days. I mean they get out and they enjoy themselves and they’re good kids. I mean the kids that grow up here I think they don’t get into drugs like they do in other metropolitan areas because they have the outdoors to enjoy. Sure. And parents do the same right in the end so. So

these are all interesting things and from a real estate perspective you know what I really enjoy about talking to a real estate agent is that know it’s their job to know all these things regardless of whether you have kids or not. That’s the questions that everyone’s asking. So I don’t know the answers exactly. It’s fantastic because you know these are questions that are asked by whether you live here or you’re thinking about moving here and not just crested butte but just kind of in general. You know they’re hard choices and so you know we’re starting to get into this world of less attached to kind of big city centers little towns like this start being a potential And so what have you been seeing as far as you know what’s new. Chris Matthews a small town. We’re talking how many actual full time residents.

Fifteen. Fifteen hundred eighteen hundred. Right. And about over 400 dogs and 400 nice.

Exactly. And there’s like three families that have 80. No no. I mean I did see like five some people walk in like a bunch of dogs. You know my dog walker. Oh do those. You don’t just set them loose.

Well you can see we don’t have a leash law. But they have to be envoy’s command. OK. Are you in command as I use on my dog.

Whatever works. But when you have a town the size your little incremental growth is a lot you know 100 people is 10 percent growth right. You know 10 families move to town. It’s a significant clamshell right. And so. Towns like this always deal with growth issues right because you’ve got people who want to keep it the old way. You’re worried about losing what made it great in the first place. You know what. What are some of the challenges you see kind of going forward for Crested Butte. Just as a town and I know this is just kind of your opinion. You know it seems like they’re you know they’re building some good infrastructure. But you know do you think they’re moving in the right direction.

I think they are. And I think Crested Butte does a good job of limiting growth as best they can and we’re surrounded by millions of acres of national forest so it’s you know the biggest the biggest issue here I think is affordable housing. And you know a lot of people have had to move to get us because they can’t afford to live up here anymore. When we get to a point when there’s so much construction going on there’s so many more bodies in the sea that come here because it’s busy. People are forced out because rental prices go up.

How to solve that. I really don’t know the best answer obviously.

I mean this is a discussion going on and basically every ski town and of course Colorado right up and and it becomes into an argument of who has and who doesn’t and it’s not really about that. It’s about making the right choices and moving forward. And I know town has the best interests to do that. But are they doing the right thing. I’m not sure right. Are putting houses on the east side of town next to the river and some of the most valuable land. Available giving it to locals for 50 grand so they can build deed restricted houses. Is that smart. Personally I would have sold all that land and gained millions of dollars and built affordable housing because most people that come here to work are longtime residents. They’re here for two or three years. They want to experience a ski town before they you know settle into their job after getting out of college.

They don’t want to buy a place they want to rent a place rent. So I think we could have used a lot more money from that particular example. Building affordable housing in it had inexpensive rent for people that needed it right.

Yeah it’s a challenge. And again like I mentioned this is a conversation going on whether it’s Vail. Well it’s it’s a steamboat it’s I mean anything everyone’s trying to figure out that balance and not only just a balance from an investment an ownership standpoint but a I mean we need housing for the people that are relied on to run all of these businesses right. And so yeah it’s there’s no easy answer but a step and more into kind of your realm of things you know. Appreciate your insight on that other stuff. But you know so what do you see in like in the market right now. I mean is Christopher you just there’s some gossip building going on in town there’s some new lot of construction and construction going on down.

Prices are going up. Inventory is at an all time low. And just to give you an example I think right now we have 74 condos on the market on Mount CB. When I moved up here in 0 5, 0 6 at one point we had 380 on the market and that was when we were getting all time high prices. Sure. So what I’m seeing right now is of low inventory and a lot of demand. So supply and demand is as simple as that. It’s going to pop and it’s going to happen soon. And you know in some cases single family homes have recovered two prices they were selling for and 0 6, 0 7  already condos haven’t land hasn’t but because of how much inventory of that particular product there is it usually takes them longer. So there’s some good perspective because there are.

You know if you read a lot of financial news and if you’re into real estate you know that it has been in what they’ve called an uneven recovery rate. There’s places that have yet to recover from prices that were made in 2006 or so some places you know New York’s way above where where it was at that time. And so it’s interesting to hear that you know with all this growth and all this demand like this town is just getting back to where it was protected which gives you some perspective on hey is this you know as far as it can go it’s like well I mean it’s actually been here before and it was 10 years ago it was 10 years ago and you know when you talk to brokers that have been here for 35 years it’s cyclical.

And historically when we reach highs that we did in 0 6 0 7 after the following dip our highs of the next heighth of the market surpassed the previous rhyme and that’s. So it’s always an upward trend. Right.

As places like this become more and more desirable to live in a lot of a lot of things have changed about the workforce and things like that that make it that much healthier actually economy in the long run like we are which is actually not that it’s it’s not so dependent on the tourist time.

So it’s the big piece of the pie.

It might be our summer and just an example you know it used to be ski year based. Right. Well now our summer visitors have far outreached our visit. So our attraction is summer. Right. And then obviously the ski resorts doing well and they’re getting more and more ski resorts every year. But it doesn’t even come close to how many summer visitors we have.

Right. Which is which is another just kind of great thing to keep in mind because you can’t help but think that it’s dominated by the city resorts.

And we have a saying here this the winters brought me here. Summer is keep it here. That’s true. Summers are absolutely amazing spectacular.

That’s good.

I mean it’s been fun to come here kind of in the shoulders. Because it’s super empty and the last time I was here it was just earlier in the summer. And you know it is beautiful. But the town’s kind of crowd in there’s a lot of stuff going on and you know I’ve just been able to wheel around and feel like I have the place to myself. So it’s been pretty Feydeau.

I always enjoy those times. And this is my favorite time of the year because April-May or mud generally. Sometimes it dries out sooner but the fall is absolutely incredible. I mean we’ve been biking right up till Thanksgiving turkey is fantastic. I’m not going to complain. Well hey man I don’t know if there’s anything else you know you feel like might be some good inside about this town that you wanted to mention.

But man I just really appreciate you just taking a few moments just kind of talk about what’s going on out here. I mean again real estate on a lot of people’s minds. You know I’m in the front range and it’s just crazy.

Yes and it is here too. I mean we’re up 30 percent over last year at the end of the second quarter. Right. And I’m sure the third quarter is going to be up just as much compared to last year. So the demand and a lot of it is coming from the front range because they’re tired of that I-70 corridor.

So they’re buying over here although I I’ve heard that argument and being a front range person like I have to drive on a two lane road the whole way here so that’s true you know it’s you know maybe because no one little hick up in that chain and no way you’re going to wait.

So you know I do love getting out here but it’s it’s hard to put in Beauty and the crowds are less. Yeah.

So aside from those two things is fair to ask a bit less faithful which is exactly what we’re all what everyone is looking for exactly.

Well man again thanks so much. You know it’s really interesting and I hope we can just kind of have a conversation like this again in future sometime for sure. Oh boy. Any time. All right.

Thanks a lot.

All right thanks for listening and I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I know it was a bit different but I thought it was super relevant and I really enjoyed having that chance to sit down with Corey. As we mentioned in the intro you can find the links to any related content in the show notes to this podcast episode.

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