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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 11 November 2019  

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Bill Radford

  Faces of Black Forest
  A minister of the environment
  By Bill Radford

   It has been quite a year for Logan Bennett. In the last 12 months, she has gotten married, been ordained as a minister and settled into a new job at La Foret Conference & Retreat Center in Black Forest.
   
   Bennett grew up "just down the street a little bit" from La Foret but didn't have any exposure to it as a kid. "I didn't know what it was," she said.
   
   Now, the history and mission of La Foret are well-known to her. La Foret was once the summer home of philanthropist Alice Bemis Taylor. After her death in 1942, the Bemis Taylor Foundation deeded the property to the Colorado Congregational Church, now known as the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Church of Christ. Today, La Foret operates as a nonprofit, full-service conference and retreat center with a mission of "providing sanctuary to consider the transcendent issues of life." It retains a "strong connection" to the Rocky Mountain Conference but welcomes all denominations, as well as nonreligious groups, Bennett said.
   
   Bennett was hired late last year as director of transformational programming, a new position.
   
   "In the most basic sense, my job is to make sure the facility gets really cool events that fit our vision for the future," Bennett said. One such event: "Earth, Sea, Sky: A Heart and Soul Immersion in Ancient Celtic Spirituality” is coming in late November. It is touted as "an immersive and experiential exploration of Gaelic and Welsh ancestral traditions" and is an example, Bennett said, of "more contemplative programming" that she is working to introduce.
   
   Previously, Bennett worked at Lakewood United Church of Christ for 18 months "in a variety of positions." She was ordained in February but doesn't have a burning desire to lead her own church, at least not for now. "I think that the churches in this region are in really good hands, and what we need is more innovative outside-the-church ministry," she said. "So I'm really glad to be here. I like doing ministry and serving the community in a different way."
   Faith was not really a part of her life growing up. "We went to church a handful of times a year," Bennett recalled. But growing up in the Forest did shape her.
   
   "I spent almost all of my time outside," she said. The family rule was no TV watching while the sun was up, and there were 6 acres to explore. "I had two older brothers that didn't like to play with me too much, so I just spent a lot of time just kind of by myself in the woods, and I think it formed a lot of who I am and my understanding of spirituality and how the world's connected."
   
   When she was a junior in high school, she began attending the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Colorado Springs; a neighbor had told her that it was a progressive church –- "different than you would expect," she was told.
   
   "The pastor was very social justice oriented in his messages and that was something that really resonated with me,” Bennett said. “I just felt really comfortable there."
   
   She became more involved in the church and, in considering her future, "I realized ministry was a job and people could do that for their work. And the idea just stuck with me." She went on to earn a bachelor's degree in sociology at Colorado College and a master's in divinity at Iliff School of Theology. She and new husband Matthew live in south Denver.
   
   Bennett, 32, still has a passion for the outdoors; most weekends, you'll find her and Matthew up in the mountains, hiking or rock climbing or ice climbing. At La Foret, Bennett tries to take multiple walks in the woods every day, soaking in the serenity.
   
   "One of the reasons people love La Foret is it's just a really peaceful place to be."
   
   She is also passionate about various causes, including the fight against climate change.
   
   "That's probably my No. 1 thing I'm concerned about," she said. "I feel like we're approaching living in a 'Mad Max' world." She tries to stay positive though; she praises efforts to be "more green" at La Foret but looks at what more could be done, such as large-scale composting or the creation of an eco-camp.
   
   Another cause: LGBTQ rights. "As an organization, I think that's one of the places we've done a lot of good work," she said. "Our camps especially are very open and welcoming.”
  
"One of the reasons people love La Foret is it's just a really peaceful place to be," said Logan Bennett, La Foret Conference & Resort Center's director of transformational programming. Photo by Bill Radford
 
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  Water Law: It takes a lawyer
  By Donna Duncan, Black Forest Water and Wells Committee

   On Sept. 30, Hank Worley, a Colorado retired water attorney, talked to a packed meeting at the Community Center in Black Forest. His topic was titled Denver Basin Aquifers, More Than You Probably Want to Know.
   
   Given the intense interest in Black Forest by big-project developers who mostly expect to furnish groundwater to the future residents, the audience clearly wanted to know what he had to say.
   
   Worley started with a review of the Denver Basin aquifers from the surface down: the Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills. All the water in all four aquifers is non-renewable, meaning water pumped from the aquifer is gone forever.
   
   A water right is a property right, similar to ownership in real property. A land owner acquires a water right by obtaining a well permit and constructing a well on his or her property or by obtaining a decree adjudicating the water right from a water court. Adjudication results in a vested water right. A benefit of adjudication is that if water law changes to affect water appropriation (how water is set aside for use), other than by ownership of the overlying land, the vested property rights are protected. Also, vested property rights can be condemned by a public entity only upon payment of fair compensation.
   
   Adjudication costs between $2,000 and $3,000, if no augmentation plan is required, but with an augmentation plan the cost is between $5,000 and $6,000. An augmentation plan is required for adjudication in mostly nontributary aquifers, such as the Dawson. A mostly nontributary aquifer is one where pumping over decades reduces the flow of water to streams, which reduces the amount of water going to downstream owners of surface water rights. Augmentation plans, therefore, explain how the well owner will replace water that was pumped over time instead of going into streams.
   
   The most common method of meeting the water replacement requirement is to state in the original decree that adequate water from a lower, nontributary aquifer, such as the Arapahoe, will be reserved for that purpose. When pumping in the mostly nontributary aquifer ceases, the current owner constructs a very expensive well into the nontributary aquifer and pumps very small amounts of water into a leach field or something similar for eons to come. Yes, really.
   
   Developers also obtain water rights. El Paso County has a 300-year rule that requires developers to show sufficient water for a subdivision for 300 years. To determine if there is sufficient water, the state engineer’s office examines the developer’s proposed water supply, including the water rights decree; along with, if applicable, the augmentation plan and the proposed water demands of the subdivision. Calculations are performed on the estimated amount of saturated groundwater in each aquifer to be pumped, the surface area of the development and expected flow rates from wells. This number is compared to the anticipated water needs of the development over 300 years. If the estimated amount of water is deemed sufficient, the state issues a finding of sufficiency.
   
   A member of the audience asked if a developer can be sued if they pump so much water that surrounding residential wells suffer material injury. Worley’s answer was yes, but he added, “You’d never win.” The state expects water levels to decline and wells pumped to extinction.
   
   Worley added that his talk represents his understanding of such issues as of the date of his retirement. His information is not intended to provide legal advice regarding any particular situation. Anyone with significant water rights issues is strongly urged to contact an attorney who is competent in such matters.
   
   Worley’s full talk is available at https://www.blackforestwater.org/blog/denver-basin-aquifers-more-than-you-probably-want-to-know. This paper contains information added after his talk about material injury.
  
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  Proposed nature center narrowed to two sites
  By Pete Gawda

   Interested citizens who gathered at a public meeting Oct. 7 at the Black Forest Fire Station voiced their opinions on two proposed sites for a nature center in northern El Paso County – Black Forest Regional Park and Fox Run Regional Park.
   
   The audience heard Todd Marts of the El Paso County Community Services Department and Jeff Webb of Altitude Land Consultants explain the process of how several proposed sites were narrowed to the two under consideration.
   
   “We need to know where to put it,” Marts said of the proposed nature center. Whichever park is chosen, the preferred location would be in a more secluded area of the park away from most of the traffic, he said.
   
   “Your input is really important to us,” Webb told the audience. He said a nature center can encourage children to spend more time outdoors. He said the objective of his organization is to connect people to their natural and cultural resources and inspire them to become stewards for the environment. He noted that county plans have nature centers as a priority. He said trail loops, regional trail networks and diversity of plants and animals are preferred traits of a nature center. He said that county-owned public land would be preferable over buying private land.
   
   As Webb explained, both sites would work well for a nature center. His organization came up with a rating system by assigning points to each desirable quality. When that scale was applied to the two proposed sites, they both scored close with 45.69 points for Fox Run and 45 points for Black Forest.
   
   Webb said that Black Forest has 382 acres and 14 miles of existing trails. He noted that the fire that destroyed part of the park several years ago is a “blessing and a curse.” Through the coming years, the public could see how an area recovers from a forest fire.
   
   Fox Run is the most visited park in the northern part of the county, Webb said. It consists of 409 acres and has 6.8 miles of existing trails. It is conveniently located near I 25, making it accessible from the north and the south. However, there is not as much wildlife diversity as Black Forest.
   
   When asked about facilities for disabled persons, Webb said that issue will be part of the deciding factors.
   
   After the presentation, which included several photographs of both proposed sites, the audience was divided into small groups and asked to discuss several specific questions dealing with each proposed site; including which site they would prefer. A spokesman for each group reported on the group’s consensus.
   
   Marts said a decision will be made regarding the site at the end of November. Then, plans will be drawn up and presented to the county commission — how to fund the center also will be determined. In addition to county funds, Marts said they will be seeking grants and corporate sponsors. He said the nature center could be completed in late 2022 or early 2023.
  
At the public meeting Oct. 7 at the Black Forest Fire Station, the idea of a nature center for northern El Paso County was the topic; presenters and attendees discussed the pros and cons of two different sites proposed for the center. Photo by Pete Gawda
 
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  AARP Black Forest - State awards dinner recognitions
  Submitted by Stanley Beckner

   The biannual AARP State Awards dinner was held at the Field House Restaurant in Denver on Oct. 15. Fifteen Black Forest AARP Chapter members attended the awards recognition dinner. During the event and ceremonies, chapters and their members from throughout Colorado were recognized for their exceptional activities during 2018 and 2019.   
   
   For the 11th consecutive year, the Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 was designated the Platinum AARP Chapter and awarded the Chapter Cup as the most outstanding AARP Chapter in Colorado for community service. The chapter received the award for numerous community service projects such as the annual free shredding events, blood drives, hosting the monthly senior social gatherings, participating in local public expositions, maintaining a presence at the annual Black Forest Festival; and making significant donations to veteran and community charities. The award was accompanied by a $300 grant to the chapter.
   
   In addition to the Chapter Cup, three Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 members were individually recognized for their exceptional service.
               
   Jim and Lori Belk received the AARP Community Service Award for the sustained support they have given to Chapter 1100 and the subsequent positive effect they have had on the community in general. Specifically, Jim Belk excelled as the person in charge of the 2019 free shredding event that the chapter undertook in partnership with ElderWatch Colorado. Jim, a Chapter 1100 board member, supervised the project and ensured that every aspect of the planning was appropriately accomplished, resulting in the total success of the event. 
   
   Lori Belk is very active in chapter activities. She has served, in a superior manner, on the Chapter 1100 Community Services Committee for three years. In addition, she has been the chapter luncheon and catering coordinator the past two years. This responsibility includes coordinating and ordering two annual catered meals for the chapter and supervising the luncheon activities for each of the other chapter meetings during the year. She was also active in the planning and supervising of other chapter activities.
   
   The AARP Colorado Program/Strategic Award for 2019 was presented to Stephen Blucher. Stephen was recognized for his 22 consecutive years of service as an instructor in the AARP Driver Safety program and his steady, consistent volunteer service with AARP. Stephen has been a member of Chapter 1100 in Colorado Springs since 2014. During this time, he has been a steadfast and reliable member on numerous occasions. He was cited for his exceptional record of achievement, service and commitment and providing the extraordinary example of the difference that volunteerism can make in the lives of individuals and in the well-being and vitality of a community. Stephen has recently been appointed one of the two AARP Western Region delegates to the Chapter Activities Team at AARP headquarters in Washington, D.C.
   
   AARP Colorado took great pride in congratulating The New Falcon Herald newspaper and its editor, Marylou Doehrman Bride, for the publicity, support and visibility given to AARP and the Black Forest Chapter 1100 through The New Falcon Herald. The New Falcon Herald has published more than 20 press releases from AARP Chapter 1100 over the past two years. Items published include pre-event and public service announcements as well as post-event news releases consisting of reports, articles and photos. The publicity, support and visibility given Chapter 1100 by The New Falcon Herald has increased the interest in AARP and Chapter 1100 activities throughout the central Colorado community. The Business Award was accepted by The New Falcon Herald publisher, Michelle Barrette.
   
   Chapter 1100 President Ray Rozak invites anyone interested in joining Chapter 1100 and participating in community service projects to the meetings, including anyone who just wants to visit the chapter meeting and find out more about the group. Contact Ray at 719-495-6767 for details. The Chapter 1100 motto is “To Serve, not to be Served.”
  
Chapter 1100 award winners included (left to right) Jim and Lori Belk, Community Service Award; Chapter 1100 President Ray Rozak with Chapter Cup; Stephen Blucher, Program Strategic Award.
 
Michelle Barrette (left) publisher and owner of The New Falcon Herald, accepted the AARP Business Ward for Marylou Doehrman Bride, editor of The New Falcon Herald, from Kelli Fritts, AARP Colorado Associate Editor, Advocacy.
 
Chapter 1100 attendees at the AARP Colorado 2019 awards dinner gather around President Ray Rozak, who is holding the Chapter Cup - awarded to the chapter for community service for the 11th consecutive year. Photos submitted
 
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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.
   
   The next meeting is Oct. 23. There will be no senior social in November and December.
  
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  Black Forest Women’s Club

   The next meeting of the Black Forest Women’s Club is Nov. 14 at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road. The parking lot is in the back. Use the ramp and go in the first door on the right. Coffee and refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m. and the meeting begins at 10 a.m. The November program is a cookie exchange. If you want to participate, bring two dozen cookies.  Containers will be provided to take two dozen cookies home. Come join the club and meet new people. Visitors and guests are always welcome. For information, call Carol 719-495-3846.   
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