Saturday, August 06, 2005

[puma-news] FW:barn owls on nature almanac

Although not up here at the moment, I thought you might be interested in the
increase of barn owls down in the flatland. Cherie

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Stephen R. Jones
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2005 9:39 AM
Subject: [nature-net] barn owls on nature almanac

Friday morning's Nature Almanac (KGNU radio, 8:10 a.m.) features a visit to
a barn owl nest site in northern Boulder County. We now know of 5 or 6 barn
owl nests this summer, the highest number ever documented in Boulder County.
These owls are listed as "rare" on the Boulder County Avian Species of
Special Concern list, and they weren't even documented in Boulder County
until 1937. It appears they may be increasing in number, especially since
four of our sites are within a 10-square-mile area south of Hygiene and
north of Boulder Reservoir. So keep your ears open for those loud hisses and
rattles. Steve


Boulder County Nature Association's Nature Network

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[puma-news] High Country Fire Department

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change
the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

Hi all,

Sometimes I tend to "stir the pot" by expressing some of my non-mainstream
beliefs. I'm sorry if I've offended anyone. What can I say? I love a good
argument <g>. Please don't hold that against HCFD now. My views are uniquely
mine. They are definitely not typical of HCFD. Ask Greg Ching (another HCFD
volunteer firefighter).

First, this is not in any way an official statement of HCFD. I'm just a
firefighter, not even any kind of officer in the department -- I'm a grunt.

Here in the Magnolia area, we rely on High Country Fire Department (HCFD) to
respond to medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, structure fires,
wild fires and various other emergency situations. When I moved to Magnolia
in March, 1985, HCFD had just succeeded in lowering us from a zone 10
(worst) to a zone 9 (reducing the cost of fire insurance). It has continued
to fall, and I believe we are now down to a 6 or a 7 -- remarkable for a
forested area. That has saved us all a lot of money on homeowners insurance.

Over 73% of firefighters in the US are volunteers (800,050 of 1,096,250
total). High Country Fire Department is entirely volunteer (the fire
marshall gets a trivial stipend to help defray his expenses). Of the 30,542
fire departments in this country, only 2,018 (6.6%) are all-career (paid).
In other words, unless you live in a city, you're likely to be served by a
volunteer fire department. Even down in Boulder, the non-urban departments
(e.g., Cherryvale) are mostly volunteer. Hiring professional firefighters
would cost an estimated $37.2 billion per year nationwide. Between 1983 and
1996, fire departments nationwide saw the number of calls grow from under 11
million per year to over 17.5 million per year. As the population ages, that
growth in calls will continue. The number of calls to actual fires declined
in that period.

Over the last 12 months, High Country Fire Department has seen more
attrition than usual. It's not a desperate situation, but if someone has
thought that they might want to become a volunteer firefighter, it might be
a good time to check it out.

It's a serious time committment (at least 60 hours a year), so why do it?

1) The most important reason (to me) is the good feeling that you get when
you see that you've helped your neighbors. Not every call has a good
outcome, but just seeing that a neighbor, who cares, is responding, makes
people feel better. If you want to help create a Magnolia neighborhood, this
is about as effective a way as I can imagine.

2) You'll meet people from the area that you don't know, and learn a lot
about the various subdivisions (side roads of side roads). You'll discover
places you didn't know were here.

3) You'll learn a lot. You'll be trained in everything from how to tie knots
to how to drive a big fire truck to running a pump to handling a hose to
using a chain saw to CPR and how to use an AED (to shock a heart back into a
normal rhythm). That's only a tiny fraction of what you'll learn. Knowing
that you can do those things can be a tremendous boost to your self-esteem.
I know from first-hand experience that there is nothing worse than not
knowing what to do when someone you love needs immediate medical attention.
Beyond the basics, it's up to you how much medical training you persue. We
have several local members who have gotten EMT training (department pays the
course cost). You decide whether you want to learn more about any specialty,
from wildland firefighting to whitewater rescue, and the department gets you
that training.

4) The state of Colorado has a nominal pension that volunteer firefighters
qualify for (after ten years of service). It's not much, but I didn't want
to forget it.

If you've thought about joining, you've probably wondered whether you could
do it. I wondered whether I could do it, before I joined.

A) You don't have to be a big, strong man. You will get some exercise, which
can help your fitness. I believe there are seven women in HCFD (out of about
40 total). I have no qualms about working with and relying on any of the
women. They're all very capable and well-trained. When I took my "red-card"
class (Federal wildland fire training), the most capable firefighter in our
group was a woman (Gold Hill Fire Department). She knew how to fight a fire,
and had been involved in the Black Tiger Fire. Her card had lapsed, so she
was re-taking the class.

B) Practice is very important, and we try to schedule it often. You're a
volunteer, so you don't have to go to every practice, just a minimum amount
per year. You'll find that practicing helps you feel more confident in what
you're doing, and you'll get to know the other volunteers better, learning
to work with them as a team.

C) You need a relatively good driving record. The big engines cost $300K, so
we'd really rather not have you roll one <g>. We'll teach you to drive a big
truck better than you thought you could.

D) You'll be given a pager, so that you can be 'toned' in an emergency. That
means that some morning, you'll be paged at 3AM. If you can, you should
respond to that page. You are a volunteer, so you don't have to respond.
You're not expected to turn around if you're on your way to work, etc. But,
if you simply won't respond to calls in the middle of the night, then don't

E) Expect the unexpected. I love the surprises of HCFD. I recall responding
to a call about a vehicle that had rolled into South Boulder Creek, and on
the way there, we had to turn around to respond to a car fire on the paved
part of Magnolia. There were other trucks responding to So. Boulder Creek,
but we were the closest to the fire. Even when the call seems normal,
there's always a surprise. You'll learn that you can adapt much better than
you may have imagined.

F) If you're ever asked to do anything that you feel is dangerous, you do
not have to do it. You're a volunteer. I've never been asked to do something
that I wasn't comfortable doing, but we do not want people trying to do
something that they aren't confident that they can accomplish safely.

If you're thinking of volunteering, you can call the department at
303.642.3588, or call me at 303.440.0157. I'd be happy to try to answer any
questions, or connect you with someone who can answer them.

It's a big committment, but the rewards are well worth it.


~ the chart guy

John Carder, CMT
Topline Investment Graphics
Where your chart dreams come true! or

PO Box 2340
Boulder, CO 80306-2340 USA

800.347.0157 (toll-free in the USA)
303.440.0157 (voice)
303.440.0147 (fax)