Earth Day in Roubideau Canyon

Earth Day was celebrated in unique ways in the small towns across western Colorado. In Montrose I joined a small group to honor the gifts of the natural world at a pre-dawn ceremony near the Ute Indian Museum. We gathered around Montrose’s  Peace Pole with a chorus of songbirds as our backdrop, near the flowing Uncompahgre River.

As the morning warmed I headed to Roubideau Canyon, a Wilderness Study Area, also known as Camelback, about ten miles southwest of the town of Delta. Roubideau Corridors is a complex of picturesque desert streams, canyons and mesas. The ecological significance of this area has been recognized by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. These canyons harbor uncommon riparian plant communities and sensitive species like northern leopard frog, Grand Junction milkvetch and desert bighorn sheep.

Roubideau Creek was flowing hard and brown with spring runoff after many warm days in western Colorado. Fresh leaves sprouting on the cottonwoods were so intensely green they looked luminescent. Along the trail, sage filled the air with its rich and heady aroma. Ravens soared high above as my dog, Galahad, and I padded down the sandy canyon bottom.

Just upstream lay the confluence of Potter and Roubideau Creeks. Out of sight was Monitor Creek, as well. I’ve heard that traditional cultures lend great significance to places where streams come together. Certainly this beautiful setting where three streams converge near each other holds a sense of something special.

We are extremely fortunate to have outstanding natural settings like Roubideau Canyons near local communities in western Colorado. Roubideau Canyons is one of many treasures of public lands managed by the Uncompahgre Field Office (UFO) of the Bureau of Land Management. The UFO is currently revising its Resource Management Plan, and considering special management designations to preserve the sweet solitude and high ecological value here. 2013 will bring opportunities for the public to comment on the RMP, and how we can best preserve wild and natural areas.

My Earth Day adventure reminded me of how important the management of our lands is. As I left Roubideau, a pair of great blue herons flew up from the stream. In this world of daily stress, places like Roubideau Canyons offer a haven to remember every day like Earth Day.