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When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.
– Henry Ford  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 5 May 2020  

None Black Forest News   None Book Review   None Community Calendar   None Did You Know?  
None FFPD News   None From the Publisher   None Letters to the Editor   None Marks Meanderings  
None Monkey Business   None News Briefs   None News From D 49   None People on the Plains  
None Pet Adoption Corner   None Pet Care   None Phun Photos   None Prairie Life  
Front Page   |   Feature Stories   |   Search This Issue   |   Log In

Bill Radford

  Faces of Black Forest
  Advocating for water quality and quantity
  By Bill Radford

   Donna Duncan was 4 or 5 years old, growing up in New Mexico when the family’s septic tank had to be redone. After that,"We became the most careful people with water,” she said.
   Since then, Duncan has always lived in areas where water was a concern, with the exception of eight years in New Hampshire. Although, even with a bountiful supply of water, people there would fret about it, Duncan said. "If it doesn’t rain for two weeks, they sit around and tell each other they hope it rains because they need the moisture. No, they don't."
   These days, Duncan leads the Black Forest Water and Wells group, a committee of The Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan. The committee's mission is to educate people about, and advocate for, groundwater quality, quantity and sustainability.
   Most of the water in Black Forest wells comes from the Dawson Aquifer, part of the Denver Basin system. The Denver Basin aquifers provide the primary source of water in El Paso County, the county's Water Master Plan notes. Those aquifers are considered nonrenewable because they recharge over long periods of time –- centuries, in fact, according to the plan.
   In other words, Duncan said, "We are not effectively replacing the water in any sense of the word." That is why she becomes alarmed when she hears of planned developments in the area that would result in greater density and "really scary plans for the water."
   Donna and her husband, Dennis, have called Black Forest home for nearly 30 years. There were water worries from the start; Dennis was told back then by people at the state engineer's office that the Dawson Aquifer "was already oversubscribed."
   Donna and Dennis met in high school in New Mexico — specifically in an algebra class that Dennis breezed through, while Donna made C's and "kissed the ground for them." They married as sophomores in college; they’ve been married 50 years. Throughout the years, Donna Duncan worked for Digital Equipment Corp., taught high school science and did technical writing. Dennis Duncan served in the U.S. Army for a few years and has also worked in corporate America.
   For the last several years, they've operated High Altitude Rhubarb, a pick-your-own organic rhubarb farm on their land. That is mostly her husband’s project, Duncan said. “We’ve decided that two chiefs trying to run a business doesn’t work." She is happy to report that rhubarb prefers a drier climate.
   With adjudicated water rights, the Duncans must report their water usage to the state.
   "I feel like I can talk to people about the aquifers until their eyes cross and they remember they have other important things to do in life," Duncan said. "But when you go to various government agencies, they've been monitoring well water levels for years, sometimes decades, and so you can look and track and see what happens with well water."
   Duncan encourages all well owners to monitor their usage and their well water levels. Gauging the usage is easy; there is a monitor on the pump. There are various ways to measure the water level, including sonic devices and electronic tape measures.
   In addition to water quantity, there is water quality to consider. While Duncan sometimes hears about concerns, she said, ”My understanding is our well water quality is very, very good"
   The Water and Wells Committee began in February and meets every two to three weeks. Other members are Janet Fortner, Joanne Przeworski, Monika Eckmann, Doug Lollar and Dave Schneider. The group plans to have a presence at the Black Forest Festival, Aug. 10, at the Black Forest Community Center; they'll have information on well monitoring and perhaps an old-fashioned pump to show children the effort it takes to pump water.
   "These people bring their own level of interest and competence and abilities" Duncan said, of her fellow committee members. "And together, I think we're the latest group of ants who are determined to move the rubber tree plant."
   (To learn more about The Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan, visit You'll also find information on well permits and measuring your well water level.)
Donna Duncan leads the Water and Wells Committee of The Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan. Photo by Bill Radford
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  Festival preview
  By Leslie Sheley

   The Black Forest Community Club is 90 years old this year. It has been the site for many events over the years, including the annual Black Forest festival. This year, the theme of the festival, which will be held Aug. 10, is “Black Forest strong, 90 years.”
   Shari Conley, event coordinator and member of the community club, said the festival is a community service event, and profits go to local charities and nonprofit organizations in the community. “My family attended the festival for years while my kids were growing up, and I help keep the festival going now, because I feel like a part of Black Forest and Black Forest feels like a part of us on this day,” Conley said.
   The festival is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will kick off with a pancake breakfast, sponsored by R&R Coffee Cafe, at the community center, from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m., with the outhouse race starting about 11:40 a.m.
   Black Forest Brewing Co., Black Forest ward, The Chicken Coop, Log Depot, R&R Coffee Cafe and the tooth fairy outhouse from Colorado Dental Ceramics will participate in the outhouse race.
   In keeping with the 90-year theme, activities and games will celebrate the Black Forest heritage. Conley said children can opt to work with wood crafts for a cost between $2 and $4. The Black Forest LDS youth group will be running free children’s games inside from 12 to 3 p.m. There will be a pony express game and a horse trough from the Big R store for water games.
   Alpaca breeders and artisans will be available to answer questions, give demonstrations on sheering, spinning wool, dyeing fiber and selling their products, Conley said. She said the chicken races will be back because they were a big hit last year.
   Twisted Pines Farm; High Altitude Rhubarb – Organic Farm and Nursery; Farm Instead LLC and the Black Forest Garden Club/Getting Well Together group will be on-site to talk about hydroponics, high-altitude gardening, etc. The garden club will demo a simple hand pump to use as a backup watering method in the forest.
   Eric Greene will demonstrate the saw mill. Cheyenne Willis, from Roots Chainsaw Art LLC, will demonstrate chainsaw artistry; Conley said he is donating his time and labor to create a design on one of the trees on the property. She said they are excited to see his design, but they did request that he include an Abert’s squirrel since they are unique to the area.
   Conley said music will be provided all day by The Bros, Pine Creek High School Fusion; the United States Air Force Academy Wild Blue Country Band will play from 12 to 3 p.m.
   As always, the festival includes plenty of arts and crafts vendors.
The handmade quilt designed by Sherrie Lidderdale and Dawn Sciarrotta to commemorate the Black Forest Community Club’s 90th anniversary will be raffled off at the Black Forest festival Aug. 10. Photo by Sherrie Lidderdale
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  Summer jazz concerts in the Forest
  By Leslie Sheley

   This summer, free jazz concerts are held every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. through Aug. 22 at the log school pavilion in Black forest. To promote community camaraderie, the Black Forest Community Club sponsors the concerts.
   Dawn Sciarrotta and club volunteers provide a light dinner, cold drinks and homemade desserts for purchase before and during the concert. Bring your own chairs or blankets for seating, and parking is available near the club or on the street. All of the bands are local and family friendly; the schedule of the bands can be found at In case of inclement weather, the concert moves indoors.
   "This is our third year, and many of these fine musicians are friends or acquaintances that love to play and also are happy to help nonprofit organizations like ours,” said Jeff Ader, event organizer.
The band Triple Play performed at the Black Forest jazz concert on July 18.
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  Ute prayer trees in the Forest
  By Leslie Sheley

   Black Forest has many prayer trees that were culturally modified by the Ute people, who had a special relationship with the trees. The band that lived in Black Forest eventually moved to Southern Colorado, but the trees they modified continue to be a part of the landscape.
   Sister Jan Ginzkey, Order of St. Benedict, who is with the Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery, said she became interested in learning about the trees in the late 1990s, when a lady, who wanted to write a book about the trees, asked if she could walk the property and look for the trees. Together, they identified eight culturally modified trees on the Benet Hill property.
   There are several different types of modified trees, but they are all considered prayer trees, she said. The medicine man or woman would select a tree, pray to the Great Spirit and the tree, and ask permission to modify it. Ginzkey said the process to culturally modify a tree started when it was small and pliable. They would tie a rope, which was probably made of yucca, or a piece of leather around the area they wanted to start modifying and shaping. A family or clan would then be responsible for the care of that tree, which was passed on from generation to generation, Ginzkey said. Each year, the Ute would come back during their migration and tend to the tree, by either tightening the rope or putting on a new one so the modification would continue.
   Trees are identified as marker, burial, solstice/equinox, vortex and medicine to mention a few, said Ginzkey, who described how to distinguish each tree and its purpose.
   For example, marker trees have a 30-degree angle and point to a landmark or destination that was important information for future generations. A burial tree has two distinct 90-degree angles, created in memory of a chief, a medicine person or someone important.
   The solstice/equinox tree was used to celebrate and acknowledge the changing of the seasons. Two trees were grafted together, leaving an opening designed specifically for the sun to shine through on the day of the solstice/equinox.
   Ginzkey said the Utes were in tune with the earth, and created the vortex tree to mark a spot of energy. The tree was modified, so that the grain on the trees went in two different directions.
   The medicine tree can be identified by the scarring on the tree, where the inner bark was used to make teas, compresses and nourishment. Ginzkey also mentioned a cat face tree, which they don’t have on their property, but it is formed by burning off the top layers of bark to reveal the spirit of the tree underneath.
   The cat face tree does exist on the property of the La Foret Conference & Retreat Center, which also hosts several other prayer trees. Larry McCulloch, executive director, said they also have identified burial, marker and medicine trees on the property. John Wesley Anderson, author of “Ute Indian Prayer Trees of the Pikes Peak Region,” identified one of the medicine trees, he said. One of the burial trees on the property fell during the bomb cyclone storm in March, McCulloch said.
   Ginzkey has spent many hours researching the trees, the Ute nation and their practices. The Sisters of Benet Hill Monastery is also one of the charter members for NASTP, the Association for Native American Sacred Tree and Places. “The idea is for people to recognize and appreciate the culture of the Utes and what we still have, because the trees are living artifacts of the Ute nation,” Ginzkey said.
The La Foret Conference & Retreat Center has identified prayer trees on its property: top left, burial tree with marker; top right, marker tree; bottom left, medicine tree; bottom right, cat face tree. The center offers a pamphlet to help visitors locate the different types of trees on their property.
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  Black Forest in the Pride parade

   Colorado Springs held its Pride Festival July 13 and July 14, and Black Forest Community Church participated, along with three United Church of Christ organizations.
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  AARP Black Forest
  Picnic fun and community service plans
  Submitted by Stanley Beckner

   The annual Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 picnic at the Black Forest Regional Park was perfect. The weather was great, as well as the company. The traditional picnic food: fried chicken, salads, fruit, vegetables and delicious side dishes; along with desserts, including watermelon, ice cream and more were in abundance. Everyone feasted, and there was food to take home! 
   During the abbreviated business meeting, Ray Rozak, chapter president, reminded the members to participate at the Aug. 10 Black Forest Festival, where chapter volunteers will staff an AARP booth and sell a variety of interesting and useful homemade and home-grown items at reasonable prices. The money earned from sales will go to a local charity. 
   A week later, on Aug. 17, Patricia Dix, project leader, has arranged for clinical technicians, assisted by Chapter 1100 volunteers, to be on hand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Black Forest Fire and Rescue Station on Teachout Road for a community blood drive. Everyone willing to give “the gift of life” as a blood donor should stop by the station during the above hours.
   Chapter members were also reminded to attend the Oct. 15 AARP Colorado Awards luncheon, which will be held in Denver. Exceptional AARP members and support organizations throughout the community have been nominated for recognition at this biannual event. 
   The business meeting concluded with nine lucky individuals drawing envelopes stuffed with a variety of surprising and valuable “prizes.”
   Most of the picnic attendees stayed after the business meeting to play bingo. Many nice or useful prizes were donated by members of the chapter. Winners of each round of bingo chose their own prize from the table of prizes.
   Individuals interested in more information on the above events or wishing to visit or join Chapter 1100 should contact Ray Rozak at 719-495-6767. All are welcome. The Chapter motto is to “Serve not to be Served” — and the members have a pleasant time doing it!
Chapter members and guests are filling their plates with delicious food at the annual AARP Chapter1100 picnic at a pavilion in Black Forest Regional Park.
After the July 10 AARP picnic, Chapter 11 guests and members stayed to play bingo, and nine of them won prizes — mystery envelopes that included a variety of useful items.
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  No fee senior social

   A monthly informal occasion for seniors is the no fee event. They meet in the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road in Black Forest.
   Seniors are welcome at the Black Forest AARP and Black Forest Lutheran Church monthly informal gathering, held at the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road. The social is from 1 to 4 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month, and all are invited to socialize, play games, work on hobbies or to simply sit and talk about “whatever.” Light refreshments are available. For more information, contact Lavonne at 719-494-1276.
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  Black Forest Women’s Club

   The Black Forest Women’s Club is not meeting in July and August. The next meeting will be in September. For information, call Carol at 719-495-3846.   
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