Sustainability Through Gardening,  submitted by Colorado Mesa University club Meant for Movement, is the winner of WCC’s first-ever student video contest.

The three-minute video will be shown as part of WCC’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Saturday, March 24 at Colorado Mesa University.

Filmmakers Nicholas Moore [club president], Ryan Dudley, Matt Haynie and Stephani Soto will be attending the festival.

“We are trying to help people around the world to support each other and the global community at once,” said Soto.  “Gardening seemed like the first step because it is simple, inexpensive and directly affects the quality of food you eat and therefore your physical well-being.  It also limits the negative global and environmental consequences of a modern world that runs on mass production and profit.”

Visit WCC’s website for details on the Film Festival and to purchase tickets.


Local Foods, Local Jobs Act [SB-48] signing

Sponsors and supporters look on as Gov. Hickenlooper signs SB-48 into law.

On Thursday, March 15, Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bipartisan Local Foods, Local Jobs Act(SB-48) into law.  The Act , sponsored by Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass) and Rep. Don Coram (R-Montrose), supports local, small-scale growers and producers by creating alternative methods for them to sell homemade, value added goods.  This legislation will allow small growers to sell their products directly to consumers, jump starting local economies and increasing the availability of healthy, locally grown foods.

Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar, as well as local farmers and producers Monica Wiitanen and Beth Conrey were present to show their support at the bill signing.  Wiitanen, who is also a WCC member from Paonia, received one of the three pens Hickenlooper used to sign the bill.

“Our path through the legislature this year went smoothly since we were building on what we did last year,” said Wiitanen.  “That, and knowing that so many other states have passed similar bills, and that they contribute to the homegrown prosperity of our farms and communities.”

The Bureau of Land Management is hosting a public meeting in Silt, CO, on Monday, March 12, to answer questions and solicit comments on its oil shale and tar sands Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Draft PEIS).

The Silt meeting will be held from 7-9:30 pm at the BLM Colorado River Valley Office, 2300 River Frontage Rd. Similar meetings will be held: March 13 in Vernal, UT; March 14 in Salt Lake City; and March 15 in Rock Springs, WY.

The BLM’s Draft PEIS, issued Feb. 3, assesses management alternatives for future oil-shale and tar-sands activities on public lands. A 90-day public comment period ends on May 4.

If you are unable to attend the Silt meeting, please send your comments to the BLM today. Oil shale development would make major demands on our limited energy and water resources, not to mention the stress to the infrastructure of our communities. Written comments on the Draft PEIS can be submitted through the BLM’s oil shale website or through Colorado Environmental Coalition’s site.

See these additional resources on oil shale:

US Congressman Scott Tipton will be holding a town meeting in Delta on Monday, March 12 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the Delta County Courthouse in Room 234 located at 501 Palmer Street.

The meeting is open to the public so come and bring your concerns and questions on topics like oil & gas drilling [including fracking] and the proposed San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act!

Denver may be where the state capital is, but it sure is a long way from western Colorado.

Mountain ranges and miles of road sit between us and state-level governance. Geographic challenges can create gaps in communication, and those gaps can result in less representation of Western Slope issues or values. But sometimes, people need to go to the power to have their voice heard.

That’s why Western Colorado Congress coordinates a trip to the state legislature in Denver every year!  Members get to talk with lawmakers about conservation and community issues, while learning from the pros about legislative processes. You’ll influence pending bills related to agriculture, water, air, energy, wildlife and communities. Also, we’ll join other conservation organizations for a reception with lawmakers following a full-day at the capital.

We Want You!
Our trip to Denver will be on March 12 & 13 and we’re holding a brief call tomorrow (Wednesday, March 6) to plan with members.  We’ll create our team, highlight the trip itinerary, and discuss specific bills of interest. What bills?  Well, that depends on status of bills and what has been scheduled during our trip.  Our short-list of bills includes, but is not limited to: Supporting Local Foods; Protecting public health from uranium and oil & gas; Preserving local government authority; and, Maintaining Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard.

If you’d like to participate in the call, contact Frank Smith at or (970) 256-7650

Western Colorado Congress is once again hosting the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.

Exciting new location this year is in the Colorado Mesa University Center Ballroom on Saturday, March 24. Doors open 6:00pm, program starts at 7:00 pm.

We’ll feature a handful of engaging films that inspire viewers to join WCC protecting the environment.   Feature film is Chasing Water, with photographer Pete McBride following the Colorado River from its source in the Rockies to the sea.  McBride will be interviewed on KAFM Radio on Tuesday, March 13th from 12:30-1:00pm.

High Noon Solar and Bookcliff Vision Center continue as local sponsors. WCC is also partnering with the Colorado Mesa University [CMU] Outdoor Program, as well as Environmental Networking for Volunteering Students and DMU’s Sustainability Council.

We’re also including our first-ever CMU student environmental video contest, showing the winner that night.

Advance tickets are available for $10 in Grand Junction at Summit Canyon Mountaineering (461 Main St) and Whitewater West (418 South 7th St).  Students are $5.  To buy tickets online, visit WCC’s website.

The Colorado Cottage Foods Act (Senate Bill 48) passed out of the Colorado House of Representatives on Monday, March 5!

Coloradans are one step closer to enjoying certain homemade foods sold to them directly by local producers.  The Governor’s signature is all that stands between hungry consumers and local jams, jellies, baked goods, teas, honey, dried fruits & vegetables, and farm fresh eggs to be sold farmers markets.

The bill exempts small producers of non-potentially hazardous foods from the licensing requirements placed on retail food establishments but requires producers to be certified in safe food handling and processing.  SB 48 also encourages the purchase of home kitchen insurance and allows for sales of up to $5,000 (net) per eligible item.  All homemade items meant for direct sale to consumers would be labeled with ingredients and producer’s contact information.

“This bill benefits farmers and fledgling home-based businesses,” says Monica Wiitanen, of Small Potatoes Farm near Paonia.  “I could help my farm (financially) by baking and selling bread, and local costumers get satisfied in the process.”

Western Colorado Congress [WCC] members from Mesa, Montrose and Delta traveled to Denver on multiple occasions to testify in support of the measure. WCC sees local food as beneficial to agriculture, community, climate, and economy. Farmers may have more demand for their produce, consumers have access to better food, and a little more money stays in the community.  As a bonus, local food means less fuel to haul produce to market—that saves gas money and reduces climate-causing air pollution.

“I especially want to thank Sen. Schwartz and Rep Coram (Montrose) for their efforts stewarding the bill,” said Marv Ballantyne, WCC Legislative Committee Chair.  “Supporting local food and growers helps us create sustainable Colorado communities.”

Collaborators include, but were not limited to: Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Valley Organic Growers Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, the Colorado Beekeepers Association, and Western Colorado Congress.