Category Archives: Zion Canyon Friends

Sunday Sermon
Conservation in Springdale; What We Can Do

KateJewelCDIn the coming decades there will likely be 11 billion people on Earth. This population increase, and our diet and lifestyle choices, have driven us to a precipice.

Deforestation is a central cause of climate change, contributing more greenhouse emissions than does the transportation sector. The tropical forests of Central and South America, Africa and Asia are being destroyed to provide land to graze cattle, to grow food for the animals people choose to eat, and for wood and paper products. I discuss the consequences of diet choice in my book length essay, To Save the Animals. (Nearly completed.) This editorial will focus on the need for paper, cardboard and other recycling.

Trees use carbon dioxide in photosynthesis, therefore when they are destroyed, more CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere. In addition, the water from plant transpiration rises, then condenses to form clouds, and falls as rain or snow. Deforestation disrupts this cycle, and much of the land turns into desert. Large quantities of carbon stored in the soil (especially in peat swamps) are then released to the atmosphere.

Primates, elephants, parrots and other fruit-eating jungle animals disperse seeds away from the parent trees, and package the seeds in fertilizer (dung). As we destroy the forests, we are forcing these species to extinction; the forests may well go extinct, too, without their help. We destroy the forests either by setting fire to them or by cutting down the trees. 50% of all animal species live in the rainforests. We set them on fire or starve them when we destroy the forests. Our actions have set in motion the greatest mass extinction of all time, one that is happening 1,000 (perhaps even up to 100,000) times faster than any previous mass extinction. The animals do not have time to adapt to the rapid change, new species cannot evolve.

Climate change is responsible for heat waves and drought that cause tree deaths from disease and infestations, and lead to hotter forest fires that destroy more trees. Recently, British Columbia lost 58,000 square miles of forest in only a decade. The forest fires kill wildlife. Animals suffocate, burn to death, or lose their shelter and sustenance, as in tropical forests. Thousands of fish may suffocate from ash or die from the heated water in a single forest fire.

To help prevent this cruelty and devastation, it is crucial for businesses and residences to recycle cardboard. Options include:

  • Allied Waste/435.628.2821. AW charges less for pickup of both recycling and trash than for trash pickup only.
  • Blue Sky Recycling/435.673.1400.
  • Sol Foods has a cardboard compactor. They bundle then sell the compacted cardboard. The owners, Max and Julie Gregoric, generously allow other Springdale businesses to bring cardboard to the compactor, located at the side of the building, between Sol Foods and the hardware store. Sol Foods bought the compactor from AFS, and Rocky Mountain Recycling purchases the cardboard.
  • The post office has a recycle bin that accepts cardboard, plastic and paper. It is not big enough to accommodate cardboard from businesses; however, people may recycle cardboard from packages there.
  • The town bins, located past the Community Center and tennis courts on Lion Boulevard, now have a cardboard recycling bin. However, it is not for business use.

Springdale businesses can work together to expand cardboard recycling options. For example, were businesses to contact Dixie Waste to request recycling, it would provide incentive for Dixie Waste to provide such a service.

Businesses and private residences can also make a significant difference by choosing to use recycled paper products – cups, plates, napkins, toilet paper, paper towels.

Springdale is a village, but millions of tourists come here every year. Springdale can help them to recycle plastic, paper and metal cans by placing small recycle bins throughout the town (as is done in Zion National Park). Motels can provide individual recycle bins (metal/plastic/paper) in every room; Cliff Rose Hotel already does this. A competition, either for children and young people, or for people of all ages, could inspire beautiful posters and banners, and fliers to display in store windows to encourage people to recycle. T-shirts, perhaps with designs by children, could promote recycling. Once Springdale has earned bragging rights, there could be bumper stickers and decals as well.

For Springdale to truly be a green community there must be water conservation. The Virgin River provides the water in Springdale. The forecast for the West the coming decades is drought, to where what now is a very dry year will be considered a wet year. The temperature is expected to continue to rise. There will be less snow melt, upon which the Virgin River depends. Springdale can promote water conservation with signs in motel rooms, public restrooms, and restaurants. Businesses and residences that have not yet done so should install water-conserving showerheads, faucets and toilets. Waiters should ask customers if they want water, or partially fill glasses, or restaurants can use smaller glasses. Leftover water should be saved to water plants. Businesses and residences should only water before 8:00 a.m. and after 7 p.m. from mid-April through September; during the heat of the day, much water evaporates. Green laws are water intensive, and therefore not appropriate in Springdale; desert landscaping is beautiful.

There is no more glorious place on Earth and here. Recycling and water conservation are ways to treasure the land and to save wildlife.

Kate Jewel

The Man Who Brought Civility Back to Town

Six years ago, Springdale, Utah–deep in red rock country–was a community in chaos. A friendly “outsider” came to the rescue.

By Michael Ryan

Phillip Bimstein when he was mayor of Springdale

Phillip Bimstein when he was mayor of Springdale

Situated just outside Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah (pop. 350), has one of the most breathtaking settings in the nation. Elegant inns, middle-class motels and inexpensive campgrounds coexist in this town that sees 2.5 million visitors annually. Six years ago, however, Springdale’s political climate was anything but serene.

Tensions ran high between developers and conservationists. Developers argued for the right of property owners to do what they wanted with their land. Others thought the local government should step in to preserve what they saw as the quality of life. “People took sides on an issue, and lines got drawn,” says Mavis Madsen, a librarian. “They took things very personally. There were many battles and many scars.”

“People took sides, and lines got drawn,” says one resident.

 “A sheriff was needed at every council meeting,” says another.

Don Falvey, who was appointed superintendent of the park in 1991, recalls the atmosphere: “I was advised that when I went to the town meeting in Springdale, I should sit close to the deputy sheriff, because he would be there to break up the fights.” Falvey assumed that his advisers were joking. They weren’t. “It was true,” he says. “They needed a sheriff at every meeting.”

The town was desperate for new direction. In 1993, a group of residents asked Phillip Kent Bimstein to consider running for a four-year term as mayor. A Chicago native, Bimstein had impulsively bought a house in Springdale on a hiking trip through Utah in 1988. “It was a gamble,” he says. “I didn’t know anything about the community.”

Many felt that Bimstein was the one public figure in town who had been actively improving Springdale’s reputation. As president of the town’s arts council, he’d persuaded the New Music Festival, an annual international event, to come to Springdale in 1992. That year, the festival was spread over a dozen locations, including Berlin, Chicago and Los Angeles.

After some initial hesitation, Bimstein decided to run. “I started to get excited about the idea,” he says. “I thought I could do some good.” He was not your typical politician. Instead of organizing rallies of his supporters, Bimstein campaigned among voters he didn’t know. He would call up a family and ask if he could drop by to discuss whatever was on their minds. “I could meet people and, in case I actually got elected, I could get a sense of what their concerns were,” he says.

Even more unconventional than his campaign style was his platform, which Bimstein summed up in one work: civility. “I told them I didn’t see the mayor’s job as pushing through an agenda but rather as moderating and facilitating,” he explains. “We all have to listen to each other and respect what the other person thinks.”

The voters liked what they heard: Bimstein swamped two opponents, taking 60% of the vote. Two new like-minded council members were swept into office with him. He immediately began making changes: encouraging citizens to share their concerns with him, appointing new members to the planning board–and reminding everyone to listen. He instructed his new appointees in town offices and committees to treat each citizen equally. “I told my friends before the election, “If you expect any special treatment from me after I’m elected, forget it,” he says. “They actually liked that.”

The new mayor’s civility platform had an immediate effect. “The atmosphere has change,” says Don Falvey. “Now it’s conducive to mutual cooperation and problem-solving.” One citizen has even given up attending council meetings: “All they do now is conduct business. They’re no fun anymore.”

In addition to being a respected leader, the mayor is also an accomplished musician. In the early ’80s, he fronted the successful New Wave band Phil ‘n’ the Blanks, marrying the band’s co-lead singer, Blanche Blacke. (The couple divorced amicably in 1990, and then Blacke returned to big city life.) Though he’s not a Mormon, Bimstein has sung with the choir of the town’s Mormon church and composed a commemorative piece for Springdale’s 30th anniversary.

Bimstein’s friendship with Garland Hirschi, a 71-year-old cattle rancher, inspired him to combine Hirschi’s voice, the lowing of the cows and instrumentation into a strangely moving composition titled “Garland Hirschi’s Cows.” In another piece, “Dark Winds Rising,” he combined the voices of Native Americans from the area with the sounds of a string quartet.

Bimstein was among this year’s recipients of a grant from the national Meet the Composer New Residencies program, which selects five composers annually. Each receives $235,000, which is shared with his community to help make music an integral part of its culture and to gain wider exposure for the composer’s work. “In my music, I like to look at my community and see what is unique,” Bimstein says proudly. “I want to tell the stories of the people.”

“I started to realize that being mayor and being a composer can both be creative,” he adds. “Being mayor is like making a collaborative composition.”

Collaboration has become a watchword in Springdale. Park workers volunteered to paint the town’s gazebo. The town and the park worked together to develop a new shuttle transportation system. And when a sudden late-night rockslide dammed up the park’s Virgin River and threatened to flood campgrounds and low-lying buildings, Park Superintendent Falvey turned to the mayor to help organize emergency evacuation relocation inside and outside the park.

Last year, this unprecedented level of civility earned the town and the park an award from the National Park Foundation in Washington, D.C. “I feel at home in this community,” Bimstein says. “It’s a good place to be. We had lost faith in ourselves, and now it’s being restored.”

Reprinted from Parade Magazine, November 2, 1997

Climate Change Sunday Sermon – Louise Excell

(Note: The following is an essay written by Louise Excell in response to “Sunday Sermon – Climate Change and Solar Power”. Another essay in response to Louise will be posted in about a day.)

Thank you for the great discussion of climate change and its rather immediate effects on southern Utah and Springdale, based on Dr. Robert Gillies’ lecture at the CCC, compliments of the Zion Canyon Field Institute.

David and I have bought into the scientific facts from the beginning, so we went, knowing that Dr. Gillies would be “preaching to the choir” in our case.  We left, having learned much more about our immediate region, and we were even more sober regarding the climactic future for southern Utah.

Last summer, I spent a week with some very smart people while trying to plan an educational experience for students studying in the environment and the humanities at the University of Utah.  One of my fellow conferees had studied weather and climate change extensively at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his conclusion—and that of climate experts he cited—is that “it’s too late.”

The window that would have allowed humanity to turn back the human-caused devastation to the climate has closed.  The best we can do now is hunker down and brace for a series of world events like modern humans have never seen.

We may, indeed, be leaving our grandchildren a hellish future that they don’t deserve because we have been so terribly selfish and short-sighted, but let’s not count them out. They are, after all, the best of all of us.

You offered a solution which I agree should be on the table, but I would like to suggest that there are other things we might do:

  • Consider a world in which we acknowledge that we have screwed up royally, and we’re now in a position that we never wanted to be.
  • Consider a world in which we use the incredible intellectual gifts that nature has given us to solve problems.
  • Consider if we start now to prepare everyone for the new future our children will live in and leave to their children.
  • Consider if we start with children who are six years old and younger and teach them the science, mathematics, technology and engineering to create the living spaces necessary to sustain human life, and how to nurture the biodiversity of flora and fauna to make a sustainable existence for our species and ALL of the species with whom we share the planet in the new climactic conditions.
  • And consider, if at the same time we give them the training in ethics, aesthetics, history, civics, language arts and human compassion necessary to sustain the quality of life we have come to cherish.
  • Consider a world in which we admit our errors and correct them.  Imagine the possibilities.

Letter from Louise Excell and David Pettit about Helicopters in Zion to the Springdale Town Council

March 11, 2014

Mayor and Town Council
PO Box 187
Springdale, UT 84767

RE:  Aircraft Ordinance Revision

Concerning the question of expanding the current town ordinances that prohibit strictly the operation and landing of aircraft within Springdale, we urge you not to expand or further liberalize the ordinances to make exceptions for particular types of aircraft, including drones of any sort.  In our opinion, it simply is not necessary to use such means to acquire stunning promotional images of Springdale and Zion Canyon.

To date, many organizations, from state and county travel bureaus to private promoters, have been able to convey the spectacular images of Zion Canyon without intrusive airborne technology.  People all over the world see this area in all its glory, communicated to them through technology that does not require an ordinance revision.

We are worried that to allow drone overflights for promotional activities will not benefit the people of Springdale or the millions who come here for the serene experience the canyon offers.  It will only open the possibility of further overflights.  Please do not open that door.

As for the provision for “life flight training,” why must it take place in Springdale?  May we suggest that the town or the emergency services who are asking for such permission work with Zion National Park to land their aircraft and conduct training at the location west of Coal Pits Wash where the park maintains a large (and already unsightly) facilities yard.  We think it is perfectly reasonable that necessary training for air evacuations could easily be conducted outside of the steep canyon walls where humans and countless other animals are subject to the stress and trauma of such noisy activities.

As you know, it has been an endless and frustrating battle to protect the sound quality experience of this canyon, especially since the National Park Service cannot even control overflights, thanks to federal regulations.

To the extent that you can help us save our serenity, we beg you to do so.


David Pettit and Louise Excell

A Bernie Holiday

My neighbor Paul Mailloux does some beautiful photographs and sells them too! This year, Paul’s Christmas card was so beautiful that I asked for permission to post it here.

The dog is “Bernie” … Paul and Jenny adopted him after Jenny saw him in a Springdale parade sponsored by our local rescue organization.

You can click on the files and see them full size. The files are fairly large so the page may take a minute or so to load on your computer, but it’s worth it to get the full impact of Paul’s photography.





Pro ASP.NET 4.5 in VB

Since this is a site that is supposed to be all about ZiCC (Zion Canyon Community), you might reasonably ask why a post about an obscure computer programming technology is here.

Because I wrote it … that’s why.

In a shameless display of self-promotion, I’m proud to announce that my book has finally shipped. You can see it here or here. Twelve hundred pages of single-minded determination to get to the last chapter, let me tell you!

At this point, I have to confess that I’m listed as the first author only because I did a conversion of Adam Freeman’s C# book into Visual Basic … so I was the last person to work on it. (Doesn’t the Bible have some verse about “the last shall be first” ?) I don’t know why Matthew MacDonald’s name is on it. As far as I know, he was only involved in the previous edition and this was a complete rewrite … must be some kind of contract thing.

I wasn’t aware that Niles Ritter (Niles lives in Virgin. He also has a web page here.) was a computer professional until we started chatting about it during one of the Springdale Library Book Discussion Group meetings. I promised Niles that I’d give him a copy when it was published.

ZiCC has some amazing people in it so maybe there’s another computer professional out there. If there is, I’ll gladly pass along another free copy. Just send me an email.

Who knows? You might have a table with a really short leg that needs propping up.

Sir Elton John

Some of you might know that I write the occasional article for the St. George News. One of the intrepid staffers there is Alexa Verdugo Morgan and she’s an animal lover. (Just like Roxy and me.)

Alexa has put up a Facebook page for her guinea pig and she asked me to pass on the link. It’s a cute page!

From Alexa:

Check out the new Facebook page for my pet, Sir Elton John the Guinea Pig? His website is under construction, but he is rapidly becoming a popular figure in the local animal community.
Thank you!