Posted: Friday, Mar 16th, 2012
By STAN MOYER
Rapid weather change reminder of water’s importance
MONTE VISTA — The dedication ceremony of the Shriver-Wright State Wildlife Area had just ended when all hail broke loose.
As everything comes with a weather risk in Colorado, the timing was fortunate, since all speeches were finished and the sign with the new site name had just been unveiled.
Instead of perhaps 40 in attendance at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, approximately 150 showed. The number of seats available reflected the first number given, so most stood and watched and heard speeches by a number of Colorado officials and friends and family members of Doug Shriver and Ray Wright.
All were there to pay tribute to the two acclaimed protectors of San Luis Valley water resources, who died together in a roof avalanche in March 2010.
Rio De La Vista of the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust began the ceremony, introducing family of the two and the procession of speakers, including Doug’s widow, Karla Shriver, who is also a Rio Grande County Commissioner; water veteran Steve Vandiver, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar, Mike King, director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Roxanne White, chief of staff for Governor John Hickenlooper.
State Senator Gail Schwartz and Representative Ed Vigil were also on hand, as well as a staff member of Congressional Representative Scott Tipton’s office.
Salazar credited Shriver and Wright with changing his attitude regarding environmentalists, making him one of them, “more than I had ever been before.”
He said Shriver, in particular, “Stood up for what he believed in,” on such issues as water rights, and joked that Shriver’s family “taught me all my bad habits.” He clarified he was saying that in jest, because the two “were terrific mentors,” and fought hard “to preserve our way of life, in the San Luis Valley.” Salazar also noted that both had sacrificed a great deal of time in their lives when perhaps they could have just been relaxing or having fun, working during the week and on weekends, long hours, often by themselves. He agreed with White’s statement that, although the men’s lives were cut short, “They were not forgotten and were very significant people.”
Before unveiling the new sign indicating the Shriver-Wright State Wildlife Area, north of Home Lake on Rio Grande County Road 3 East, along the Rio Grande River, a poem written by Ray Wright in 2003 titled “High Stakes” (composed for the Colorado Water Congress) was read to the crowd. A heavy round of applause followed as the blanket covering the sign was pulled off.
Just about then, at about 3 p.m., the reminder came that everyone in Colorado is exposed to the environment, especially if one is outdoors, with a few rumbles of thunder and approaching dark clouds, and then a few minutes later, as the large crowd began to disperse, hail started to fall heavily.
It is fair to say that Wright and Shriver were honored in a heartfelt way and the storm was certainly a reminder that water is a very important facet of living in the San Luis Valley.